Contemporary dance - excellence, distinctiveness, uniqueness

Author: Vesna Žarkovič

Date: 2. November 2019

Time to read: 3 min

Not only does Slovenia have a well-developed classical ballet scene, but it also has a rich contemporary dance scene. By definition, contemporary dance does not only communicate the beauty of movement but is also recognisable by its ability to influence a spectator.

Slovenian ballet - a bow to the figures of Slovenian ballet

Slovenian ballet includes the history of the ballet in the Slovenian National Theatre Opera and Ballet Ljubljana, the Slovenian National Theatre Maribor and ballet institutions in other, smaller towns. History records roughly 600 ballet dancers who have made important contributions to the history and development of Slovenian ballet.

About 100 of ballet dancers are particularly notable and performed or are still performing on Slovenian stages as soloists, strengthening the reputation of Slovenian ballet and contributing to its continued development.

Using provocative, disputable, sometimes even inadmissible approaches, dancers from diverse environments try to provoke spectators' inner world, testify to the present moment, provide a metaphor for being, or even just offer the formation of a new attitude or emotion towards what a spectator saw. The criteria now shaping contemporary dance in Slovenia are, in the opinion of its authors, excellence, distinctiveness, uniqueness and innovation of expression or form.

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EnKnapGroup dance company

In the 1990s, choreographer, teacher and dancer Iztok Kovač established, virtually out of nothing, the notion of Slovenian contemporary dance in European culture and beyond. In 1993 he established the international dance company En-Knap in Leuven, Belgium, under the auspices of Klapstuk Festival; a year later the group moved its headquarters to Ljubljana, where Kovač established EN-KNAP Productions. After 14 years of project work, in 2007 he founded the international dance company EnKnapGroup, the first permanent ensemble for contemporary dance in Slovenia, and began working on a repertoire basis. 

In 25 years, EN-KNAP has introduced and established its own aesthetics in European culture and formed its trademark, whose quality has been promoted from the very beginning by many acclaimed co-producers.

Iztok Kovač is a recipient of several prominent domestic and international awards. A company of remarkable dancers under the artistic direction of Kovač works with internationally acclaimed choreographers and directors of highly diverse aesthetic backgrounds, developing into an A-class international ensemble. Since its establishment, EnKnapGroup has worked with over 30 Slovenian and international choreographers and theatre directors, and created 26 full-length stage works and a dance film. The company has over 50 annual performances on domestic stages and regularly tours abroad.

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Selected shows for the ninth edition of Gibanica

Another event important for Slovenian contemporary dance is Gibanica, the biennial of Slovenian contemporary dance. This year the jury selected the shows for its ninth edition. The shows reflect an intense creativity of the contemporary dance scene in Slovenia. According to the jury, there is no dominant topic or conceptual approach in this selection – each author has demonstrated their own voice and choreographic language, further proof of the maturity of the scene as a whole.

The only selection criteria that was followed were excellence, distinctiveness, uniqueness, and innovation in a particular expression or form.

The members of the jury noticed and rewarded the fact that there were more ensemble works produced than in the past.  Gibanica – the 9th Biennial of Slovenian Contemporary Dance Art will took place in Ljubljana between 27th February and 2nd March 2019.