In Ostrava, the MOVE fest, festival of contemporary dance, physical theatre and new circus launched on Monday 10th November 2014. Taking place in Cooltour Culture Centre, the event offers five days of lectures, presentations and discussions. The flying start of the festival proves the rising vibrant cultural life of the Silesian capital but also the city's will to be seen and heard.
The Cultural Confessional by Nová síť (New Network) organization has thus already met with great interest since its installation on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, owing to the organizer's illness the public presentation of the project's results could not be given. Let me therefore publish an extract from the final report of this interesting project.
"The Cultural Confessional gives people a chance to discuss what they dislike or, on the contrary, appreciate in the cultural life of their town and its surroundings. The opinions expressed enable cultural organizers, culture life agents and officials to get a overall picture of cultural life in the area, the weaknesses and demands for change, and eventually a feedback on their own work. The aim of the confessional is an individual communication and professional processing of the data obtained.
The data is a useful tool for cultural life improvement; it contributes to community consciousness, develops local facilities, and also serves as a discussion mediator and life activator in the area. The primary aim of the confessional is to encourage citizens to stop and think; the confessional is not a means of data accumulation and statistics gathering. The meeting with a cultural confessor is thus arranged in the same individual way. The content of interview is not connected with a specific person and the data obtained is considered to be anonymous.
The primary aim of the project is to make the confessional beneficial mainly for its visitor – to initiate, motivate him and have a good feeling from the dialogue. The confessional was located in the main railway station, which offered an interesting social spectrum. It was visited by locals, people from other towns who were waiting for their trains, as well as respondents who came intentionally to confess. Their age ranged from nine to seventy-five years old. The confessions took place not only in the confessional itself but also outside giving rise to small discussion groups. Contrary to other cities where the project had already been organized, the cultural confessional visitors in Ostrava tended to discuss personal topics. They talked about their current family and social situation, unemployment, their wishes and goals connected with the closest people and their immediate vicinity. They had a tendency to avoid more general topics, which they considered to be social and media clichés (e.g. air pollution, unemployment, politics), they were full of hope because of a new mayor and city representatives, they expressed their discontentment about the insufficient cleaning service and high crime rate in the city. The respondents complained about gradual depopulation of the city centre, insufficient network of services and their centralization to shopping centres (especially Karolina shopping mall) which are of difficult access to the elderly.
In its majority, the people expressed certain patriotism – locals feel at home (including those who moved to the city), guests from other towns find Ostrava a cultural and attractive city with a lot to offer. The interviews showed that the inhabitants are aware of the culture; the information service about all genres is satisfactory. Even though people feel that their choice is tailored to tourists and visitors, they do not see it as a problem. Still, some of them do not consider the alternative culture concept to be unambiguous enough – they know where to go, what's on, but often they can't clearly define what the offer is about. They knew Cooltour but they couldn't specify whether it is a gallery, theatre or a dance stage even though they appreciate it exists. Of course, there is also a large group of people who are not generally interested in culture."
(Selected and abridged from Nová síť project's final report; adapted by Adriana Světlíková).
What does it feels like to be a ballet dancer or a freelancer ?
The programme in Cooltour Culture Centre thus opened with a Freelancer's Survival Camp talk by Karolína Hejnová, successful dance production and cultural manager, in which she presented the listeners with the reality of production and management work in the cultural sector. To be a freelancer primarily means to manage yourself and to be able to realise your artistic ambitions effectively, thus turning your dreams into reality. Hejnová's theoretical knowledge supported by her practical experience led to a lively and illuminating talk about the importance of managerial thinking to enforce any artistic intentions. This applies not only on leisure time and regional scale but also on the national and international level. The main benefit for the present dancers (who prevailed among the spectators) was probably the emphasis on the importance of self-control as well as careful and effective planning of activities which lead to the defined goals. Karolína Hejnová also briefly summarized the basic forms of independent dance projects' funding and the essential qualities of successful grant applications. Hejnová is a real expert in the field so it's a shame the discussion couldn't last a bit longer so the audience could absorb her knowledge without rush.
While waiting for the performance, the spectators had the opportunity to listen to the interviews with former ballet dancers in Cooltour gallery. Miřenka Čechová's installation Byla jsem baletkou (I used to be a ballet dancer) is a bold project which, through the voices of five women, points out the unnatural character of the dance education at conservatories, its outdated system, and hostile and discouraging atmosphere. The institutions are compared to factories which produce ballet dancers with loads of waste material and "spit" the immature girls with physical and mental problems back on the street. The installation will be held for the duration of the whole festival and it is definitely worth seeing, and considering how society can change this supposed evil, which has finally been mentioned out loud.
VerTeDance and Clarinet Factory: Inspiring and liberating
The highlight of Monday's programme was VerTeDance company and its performance Korekce, awarded 2014 Performance of the Year by Divadelní noviny (Theatre newspaper). Seven dancers breaking the physical laws, discovered both humourously and regrettably the limits of freedom and oppression. Literally fixed to the floor they were exploring the anxiety and joy of not being able to move their feet and all the resulting communication and movement effects. They found out how people, not only deep inside but also when communicating with each other, are forced to find new alternatives within the given limits. Or how the existence of a limit may become a relief from the excess of the independent decision-making.
During the discussion following the performance, the spectators had a chance to get behind the scenes, find out about the dancers' feelings during rehearsals and performances, and discuss whether we can still consider it a dance performance if the dancers do not move their feet from the ground.
The first festival evening ended with a party to the sounds of Clarinet Factory, indispensable live music accompaniment of Korekce piece. The large number of spectators is definitely a promise of a unique cultural experience, which should not be missed by all who have a chance to visit Ostrava this week.
Author: Lucie Hayashi
publicated in Taneční aktuality 11.11.2014