Alexandra Kozowicz katowice.wyborcza.pl
“The second day of the Tauron Nowa Muzyka Katowice included the performance by Śląsk Song & Dance Ensemble with their latest work, Folk Solution.
The type of folklore we cultivate is not commonly experimented with, but rather nourished and passed on from generation to generation. But, frankly speaking, the value of such museum-belonging art is no longer in the scope of the audience’s interest. Therefore, the originators of this choreography decided to describe the relationship between folklore and contemporary art by asking whether it represents what is right here, right now, or it is completely detached from reality?
Is the art of such traditional ensembles so impenetrable that it is difficult to change or redesign anything in it? No! Despite the passage of time, the Ensemble does not capitulate in front of the audience by flustering with its ballet kunst and the impression of belonging to the art of ancient times. Folk Solution was, in fact, tailored to hit the top of the charts. Music genre? An ethnodesign that is twisted, musically knocked over, and yet very catchy, especially at a second and third glance. Musically it consists of charmingly synthesized sounds – the authors are juggling them freely and playfully and putting them together into intriguing folk puzzles. Nothing is predictable here – from the colours, through the tempo, all the way to the ambience. No wonder! The repertoire of the Ensemble incorporates many types of dances which extend beyond the folklore frame. You may notice in the
Website: muno.pl /autor Staś Bryś
“The premiere of the Folk Solution project, prepared and performed by the dance artists from the Stanisław Hadyna’s Śląsk Song & Dance Ensemble, was a huge surprise. I am quite distant when it comes to projects like this. Marriage between novelty and tradition often gets overdone and creeps to the shallows of the superficial. This time, however, the festival guests managed to avoid primitiveness. It was replaced by a well-thought-out choreography by Michail Zubkov and the eclectic electronics composed by Rafal Zapała. Dance and sounds were connected rightly through the search for organic energy and vibrating rhythm.”
Website: polskatimes.pl / autor Aleksandra Szatan
“One of the biggest attractions of this year’s edition of the Tauron Nowa Muzyka Katowice was the performance by dance artists from Śląsk Song & Dance Ensemble. It was their yet another partaking within the festival setup (since exactly two years ago they performed at the OFF Festival), successfully moving beyond the frames of the mainstream. Performing at the Tauron Nowa Muzyka Katowice, the artists of the Śląsk Ensemble premiered the Folk Solution, a work attempting confrontation of electronic music and contemporary dance with Polish folklore. This colourful spectacle, intertwined with multimedia, frequent costume changes, and rapid exchange of flow through different tempos, resulted in attracting a large group of audience to the stage.”
Website: Going MORE / autor Kacper Peresada
“I was almost certain that the performance to become the Golden Graal of the festival would be the Folk Solution project, prepared by the Stanisław Hadyna’s Śląsk Song & Dance Ensemble. If I was to choose only one piece to watch at the Tauron Nowa Muzyka Katowice, this would be the one. I was not disappointed. My relationship with the Śląsk Ensemble barely exists, but I do remember watching, as a child, with my father, a performance of the Mazowsze Ensemble. It was an experience which indeed fell into my memory, even though long 28 years have passed since then.
The Folk Solution attempt at creating a performance that combines the Silesian soul with modern electronics, could have been a failure, but in this case, it was not. The choreography by Michail Zubkov, with music by Rafal Zapała simply charmed me, giving me the vibe that, at last, I was experiencing something exceptional at that festival.
It is not common for folk elements to dovetail with modern sounds. Many artists try to create what then comes across as an artificial production, consequently bashing its originally aimed authenticity. However, the above production did not lack authenticity. It was not only the highlight of the festival but also one of the most interesting productions I have ever seen within the festival scene.”
Fumi Cadet’s review of the EXODUS performance at Theatre X in Tokyo
On the 9th of November 2020 – included in the January 2021 issue of “Theatre X’s Monthly Critical Information Book”
“Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, 2020 Japan scheduled life performance of the Exodus dance work had to be cancelled, and instead was aired in a form of full-length video production. The title of the spectacle – Exodus stands for escape, fleeing, emigration, and migration of many people, thus symbolising mass escapes.
The year 2020 marks 100 years since rescuing Polish orphans from Siberia. As a result of the health and care activities (in 1920-22) of the Japanese Red Cross, nearly 800 of them were saved.
The above events are what Exodus aims to refer to. In one of its scenes, you may notice the use of the dancers’ profiles, as a reflection of those children’s faces. The implementation of such an informal and casual scene within the recording is what makes it something more than just a dance spectacle.
The recording of this new dance piece, performed by the Polish national Śląsk Song and Dance Ensemble (founded on July 1st, 1953), shows the journey of the human life, moving towards the future, filled with national independence, pride, and the awareness of the passing history.
In the opening scene, a woman is sitting alone on a tall narrow chest. She gets up slowly and opens it. Takes out a vessel and tilts it at the height of her chest. Grains of sand, accompanied by a quiet and subtle sound, start pouring steadily from the dish. This sound enhances the silence of the space but nothing else is happening. Suddenly two men appear. They seem to be looking through the window. The camera zooms on them, filling the whole screen with their facial expressions. The woman is anonymous and looks as if she has a mission to complete by standing in silence.
She is like time confined in a human being, with a ‘memory device’ that goes back into the past and shifts in time. Beside the woman, as if supporting her, the two men embody the existence of people – living beings who ‘feel time and live in it’. They are not beings changing like her but ‘memory devices’. Looking out the window they are unable to catch the time. In time, existence is just ‘drifting’. It is just as if the two men wanted us to realise it.
Exodus’s video structure is an attempt at asking, ‘what does it mean to live within history’. The female character is dancing around with a small purse tucked under her arm. She is following others and moving forward. A mad dance begins. A movement, that is hard to describe in words. She is dancing and the others continue to walk in a casual manner. We are gazing at a landscape but cannot see the time itself. There is a beautiful sunset, and we are melting into the landscape as if anticipating the end of the day.
Then we see men and women dancing across the desert. A group dance begins. Whilst in the open space, the movement is very lively, explosive, and full of hope and desire. But, once taken indoors, it changes completely and the sensation it brings reminds of despair. The very same choreography, when in a closed space background, turns the movement of hope into the movement of dejection.
A backdrop is just a tool. This ‘memory device’ plays with people and fools them at every point in the history of time. The work shows how to cut ourselves off from the ‘idea of time’. It tries to describe, through dance, by means of body expression, the relationship between ‘time and space’ as well as between ‘body and memory’. The sound of the spilling and falling sound echoes the idea of kinetic art. The look of this woman expresses time itself.
In ‘Śląsk’ the expression of the body, nurtured by Stanisław Hadyna and Elwira Kamińska, has been excellently developed. During the post-war period, Poland went through the abstract notion of ‘dance in time’, changing its own collective consciousness in terms of its territory and political system, i.e., the state. It was the dance of the history of this nation: how to proudly face the history that led to the new regime, how to find the light leading from despair to hope. Time, which cannot solve every problem, transforms memory, heals wounds and directs people towards tomorrow, as does the silent breeze blowing towards the desert.
From the desert, the railroad tracks separate to fill the screen. It is a closed railroad, a continuation of the memory of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, which deprived people of fundamental rescue. And now, all around the world, there are clashes of people who exclude others. But we are alive. We live. The march of people who believe in the existence of a new life and keep going is still not over.”
“POLE”, no. 104, September 1st, 2021, the bulletin of the Society of Polish Culture Enthusiasts in Hokkaido on pages 4-5 of the above-mentioned the newsletter
Ms Maki Ogawa, member of the Folk Dance Club in Sapporo, member of the Society of Polish Culture Lovers on Hokkaido
“Exodus is innovative and fantastic. The sound of lightning strikes, the sound of falling sand, the sound of the wind, water, the heartbeat, the music of Wojciech Kilar that puts it all into a whole, and the strikingly beautiful expressive movements of the dancers. This monochrome dance performance hit straight into the depths of my heart. Strong will, concern for others, autonomy in large groups, a lonely journey – just like in every life.
I felt a beautiful and strong vitality on this journey with the words of praise ‘Hallelujah’. I cannot express it in words, but it is a powerful vitality that will never yield to anything! And this wave has pulled me in.”
Ms Ayako Taguchi, pianist, lecturer in undergraduate piano studies at Sapporo Otani Gakuen University, member of the Society
Regarding the Exodus presented by ‘ŚLĄSK’
“First, I watched Exodus on a DVD, without looking at its description. The show was very impressive. What could it mean that the dancers’ movements and the scenes change frame by frame? It touched my imagination. This is where the different emotions stemmed from. It also evoked associations with creative dance, which I practised as a child during my physical education classes. The piano student to whom I lent this DVD had the same associations. As for music, I could feel that dance and music were one. Then, in the description, I found out that it was music written by the pianist and composer Wojciech Kilar…”
A lecture by a Polish interpreter, philologist, and essayist (writer), Ms Michiko Tsukada at Theatre X in Tokyo on November the 9, 2021 – selected quotes from her speech
“When I saw the recording of Exodus for the first time, I was impressed by the high level of this work. It is by no means a classical work (in which we follow the course of events as in a traditional story). Rather, we try to keep up with what decisions people should make in extreme situations. The performance is very contemplative, which is great. It made me reflect on many things. Thanks to knowing the basics of classical dance, the dancers have reached a level that impresses the audience. I am also very amazed by them. However, frankly, there was basically no verbal explanation during the performance, so not everything in it was as clear to me. That is why I wonder: would it not be better if the choreographer added such explanations to the individual fragments of the performance. Maybe it is necessary to share today’s comments with ‘Śląsk’ in order for them to create an even better work? Although this may be just my private desire, I wonder if it would not be good for this project to result in a joint Japanese-Polish film? I even thought of starting to collect funds for this purpose right away.
The Bytom premiere of Exodus is not the first of such innovative combinations of folk and contemporary culture in which the Śląsk Song and Dance Ensemble participate. In 2016, their choreographer and teacher, Mikhail Zubkov, created a choreography combining elements of the following folk dances: oberek, mazurka and highlander dances, with contemporary dance. A group of ten ballet artists from the Śląsk Ensemble, dressed in costumes with folk elements, danced to the hypnotic sounds of electronic music. The project delighted the audience of the Unsound Festival in Krakow. The reviews stated that this was ‘a touching affirmation of how cultures can coexist while retaining their own voices.’ The Soft Power project was also successfully presented in 2017, during the London edition of the Unsound Festival. ‘(…) According to the Hitchcock principle, it started with an earthquake, and then the tension grew. Classic figures of Polish national dances have been subjected to creative stylisations and treated as a modern expression of tradition. Tradition combined with electronic music is quite surprising, and it turns out to be very up-to-date and attractive.’ – as reported by Jacek Hawryluk, a journalist from ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’ from London.”
Jacek Świąder. Reviews and Accounts of Gazeta Wyborcza journalist (28/10/2016)
“I attended the performance of Śląsk Song & Dance Ensemble in a collaboration with Felicita, and, as someone wiser would say, I had sunk in it with all my senses. It began with an earthquake. The music was sharp and expressive, with an irregular rhythm. It could be sensed that the dancers – performing within the well-known traditional dances – had to fully concentrate, as if on the edge of an explosion, in order to maintain the unison. Every now and then, a change within the choreography was dictated by the folk-inspired music sample. With time, the sound would move away from its radicalism and modernity into folk, whilst the movement actions would incorporate elements from the contemporary dance. It was, indeed, a very surprising performance, and definitely the best international collaboration I had seen during the last few editions of the Unsound Festival. The music was fresh and well-tailored to the space and the Dance Ensemble’s resume. This dance work opened up for me a whole new face of the company. The combined quality was of the highest level”.
“Felicita presented PC Music, a genre which irritates me more than fascinates. On top of that, it involved dancers from the Stanisław Hadyna Śląsk Song and Dance Ensemble. This type of collaboration usually presents itself better in the light of R&D, where you create, but frankly, in the final form, it turns out to be a spectacular disaster. So, full of pre-assumptions, I came to watch this Titanic sink, which instead, waved goodbye to me and flew away towards the stars. On one hand, the Ensemble stroke folk movements, which I had expected, but on the other – it implemented a wide range of contemporary dance elements.
The bold choreography by Michail Zubkov, must have involved a lot of planning and required looking for new ways and solutions, which certainly led him into shedding more than just a single sweat. The performance, which could have been grotesque only, turned out to be a completely new and refreshing story, full of great potential. I am really looking forward to its continuation. Bravo!
Website: trojmiasto.pl/ autor Rafał Tołwiński (22/08/2019)
“I have seen it live. The idea, the presentation, the light design, the music, and the dance – everything was incredible. This concept of collaboration between Felicita and the Śląsk Song & Dance Ensemble should become a Polish export commodity. I have not seen such an original combination of tradition and modernity in the art for a long time. Fryderyk or other cultural distinction should go to them.“
Suite in the Old Style
Joanna Brych, taniec.blog.polityka.pl/2018/05/27
„On the other hand, the positive change of cast in the Suite in the Old Style choreographed by Michail Zubkov with music composed by Alfred Schnittke meant that this time the evening had a much better end than the beginning. The whole thing confirmed the potential of the Ensemble…”
“The evening got commemorated by the Suite in the Old Style, composed by Michail Zubkov to the music of Alfred Schnittke. The soloists and the corps de ballet of the Teatr Wielki in Łódź did great …”
George Sand’s Letters
Anna Bieńkowska http:/ tAnna Bieńkowska http:/ teatrdlawas.pl 20 Krakowskie Spotkania BaletOFFowe 25-27 November 2011.
“After these performances finally, the time came for the most anticipated point of the evening (and rightly so!), George Sand’s Letters. A very effective performance without any sign of a show-off. Touching minimalism without unnecessary decorations – just a grand piano and a chair – leaving lots of space for good acting.
There were no biographical references, nor laurels coming straight from the primary school stage, although both Sand and Chopin were great artists. The focal point was to convey the atmosphere of their high-profile romance and to express the emotions tumbling in it. All this was based on excerpts from their letters and music composed by Chopin, Szymanowski and Satie.
So, we saw Aurora – portrayed by astounding Kinga Szablowsa – radiating intoxication, frozen in longing expectation, wandering in doubt, and overwhelmed by a shadow of helplessness, up to despair in which it is impossible to even cry…
This multidimensionality became more striking considering the poverty of the movement and the chorographical qualities that were used. Movement resounding in the void, or perhaps the music vibrating through the action of movement, brought about a strange feeling of calmness. The space became somehow distilled.
One would like to mention Sartre’s remarks about the metallicity of music, which distracts from the persistent ‘stickiness’ of the world. It allows you to stay out of everyday life for a while. The performance could easily stand out as a monodrama, but it is impossible not to mention all the other dancers who showed admirable skills. The same should be said about Przemysław Winnicki, who played the piano score live. Bravo!”
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
Ewa Siemdaj, Gazeta Krakowska, Fiddler on the Roof, Krakow Opera, premiere on June 13, 14, 1995 at the Słowacki Theatre.
“… and the ingenious choreography of Michail Zubkov, appropriate to the music, was performed on a level not seen on the stage of the Słowacki Theatre in a long time.”
Jerzy Parzynski, Fiddler on the Roof, Krakow Opera, premiere on June 13, 14, 1995 at the Słowacki Theatre.
“I looked at the dance work with pleasure: modest in its means, clear in expression, perfect in style, consistent and skilfully woven into the course of action.”