The Choreographic Machine

Project Curator: Anna Królica

The series of performances framed by the term Choreographic Machine is a continuation of the search for meeting points between the work of Tadeusz Kantor and contemporary Polish choreography. I undertook this search as a curator in 2012 and a year later we presented its results during the first edition of the Choreographic Machine, as part of the project Who Inspires? Tadeusz Kantor! In that edition, the starting point for creating the programme was recognising a (nearly) continuous presence of the notion of the body in Kantor’s work — especially in the context of his happenings and theatrical experiments.

When watching the actors of the Cricot 2 Theatre on stage, it is difficult to believe that they achieved such a plasticity of movement and activity of the body without any systematised physical training routine. And what especially drew the audience’s attention was the performers’ non-standard presence and dynamic of movement. The contexts and body landscapes in Kantor’s work (especially in the Theatre Happening: The Theatre of Events and the Theatre of Death) appear both in the verbal and visual aspects, and finally, the actions of the actors on stage are their culmination. This manner of functioning on stage — a fascination with combining the everyday with elements of acting — is akin to current trends in new choreography — turning away from acrobatic showcases for the dancers’ agility, while at the same time moving away from the realistic rendition of simple narrative stories.

My attention is drawn to the fact that among the multi-threaded research on Kantor’s work, attempts to analyse the somatic aspects of his theatre are rarely undertaken. In my experience, first as a scholar and now as a curator, I have devoted much time to seeking common contexts for the work of Tadeusz Kantor and Pina Bausch.

This projects constitutes a kind of extension of the said idea and expresses the desire to find similar contexts for artists coming from the same cultural sphere (unlike with Pina Bausch), for whom corporeality, performance and reality are also recurring themes (similarly the notions of memory, as well as ready-made objects and those found in memories, never vanish from their field of observation). On the other hand, the stage or the theatre themselves become a starting point for discussing the past, for turning the turmoil of thoughts and memories into something material.

While creating this project, I thought about the current power of influence of Kantor’s theatre, on its presence in cultural memory, in theatre history and finally — in the individual memories of those who had the opportunity to watch the performances of Cricot 2 on stage, to read the commentary appearing in the press at the time, to simply participate in that theatrical phenomenon.

However, the people I invited to the project know Kantor’s theatre and happenings only indirectly — from the ideas created through historical materials and documents. As part of the Choreographic Machine I have programmed performances not directly inspired by “Kantor”, but whose creators, so to say, subconsciously resort to solutions, themes and devices known from, and associated with the Cricot 2 theatre. I treat these presentations as an attempt to establish a contemporary inter-generational dialogue.

All the choreographies refer to a past time. In two cases it is the space of collective memory, in other ones — individual, personal memory, one annexed by the stage and one which invites the spectator to wander through the intimate world of the creators’ recollections, in which a photograph (be it a series of polaroids or photos projected on the stage) comes alive and provokes memories, contributing to the creation of a stage narrative about oneself. And so the dummies become the alter egos of stage characters, which the director controls like a demiurge, placing them in opposition to the living dancers.

 

Project The Choreographic Machine has been conducted in cooperation with Institute of Dance and Music – program Scena dla tańca 2014.