Sometimes their viewers were offended, but they were never afraid. They have found the fourth dimension of dance expression, started a revolution and now they are encouraging you to experience a dynamic zen. Body/Mind Festival is 20 years old. The 15th edition starts on 30 September.
Body/Mind Festival has discovered for the Polish audience a number of important dance art creators and introduced to the viewers various kinds of dance art, which are now commonly known, but when they first appeared on the festival stage, they were a novelty for the audience, and sometimes an utter surprise.
We?ve always shown non-obvious performances, which were often impossible to classify. We went against the current: against tendencies and habits. It happened sometimes that viewers demanded to be given their money back and left. In 2001, two people watching ?Jérôme Bel? took off their clothes and ostentatiously left the show saying that they could also get naked, says Edyta Kozak, Body/Mind Festival creator and director.
Is it a dance festival?
The first edition of the festival took place in 1995 in Warsaw on the initiative of Edyta Kozak and Jarosław Żwirblis. It was called Small Forms of Dance Theatre. It was the first event of this type in Poland. Today, the festival is known not only for its uncompromising nature, but also for placing dance in the wider context of modern art. The show creators use visual art, performance techniques, architecture, live music and the new media.
Is Body/Mind still a modern dance festival after those 20 years?
For us, dancing is art originating in the language of movement and cooperating with other means of expression, such as live scenography or multimedia. It can even co-create music. A dancer traditionally moves in three dimensions, but those elements create for it a certain fourth dimension of expression. Today, we have our regular audience, who appreciates the daring nature of our shows and treats the festival as a true feast for sensitivity and a challenge for the intellect.
Revolution and sailing into the unknown
The year 2001 was a path-breaking year for the festival. This is when its name was changed into Body/Mind and the programme was structured on the basis of Edyta Kozak?s own concept.
In the 1990s, we started from dance theatre and our main themes were male/female relations and the pursuit of freedom. In 2001, we began a revolution. To Poland came some artists who were evoking fear even in some dance communities in Europe. The controversy concerning them stemmed from the fact that they started questioning the originality of the human body. By experimenting, they initiated a discussion on the rules and the role of dance, comments Edyta Kozak.
This was when Jérôme Bel, today called the anti-choreographer or the philosopher of dance, showed his artistic manifesto (the mentioned Jérôme Bel). There was also Xavier Le Roy with Self-unfinished, where he changed his body into all types of morphological creatures, Sasha Waltz with Körper (Bodies), who studied the anatomy and physical appearance of a human being, constantly asking about the limits of using human bodies. One of the most important performances was Katarzyna Kozyra?s Dance Lesson concerning forms of manipulating body in ballet.
After 2001, a few editions were like sailing into unknown waters and discovering new lands. We learnt some trends and forms, which had not even been named yet, such as no-dance or conceptual dance, formal and multimedia experiments, says Edyta Kozak.
Since 2008, the Festival has been organised every year. It has a significant position in the Polish and the European map of the most important modern dance events. The festival audience has seen such esteemed artists as Akram Khan, Constanza Macras, Steven Cohen, Robyn Orlin, Marie Chouinard, Mathilde Monnier or La Ribot, and a whole generation of young, experimenting choreographers.
For the last decade, modern dance has been dynamically developing and artists have touched upon all the possible social, historical and political issues. They joined art with science, reached into popculture, availed of the possibilities provided by new technologies. Even a new genre was born ? a hybrid performance. All of those changes, novelties and trends are reflected in the festival programme.
Since 2008, the festival boasts an original artistic and social project, where amateurs have an opportunity to cooperate with famous performers and artists. The performances which have been prepared in such a way include Velma Superstar (by Velma group), Show Must Go On (by Jérôme Bel), Living-room Dancers by Nicole Seiler, Clean Room by Juan Domínguez Rojo and two projects by a Portuguese duet Ana Borrahlo and Jo?o Galante entitled SexyMF. The project called Atlas Warsaw was also exceptional as 100 Warsaw inhabitants took part in it.
The 15th edition of the festival concentrates on the pace, fluency and sudden, increasingly faster changes in the modern world.
We don?t divide people, feed them with conflicts or diagnose, which is difficult because it requires more focus and eagerness to distance oneself form the outside world in order to take a wider perspective. Even political or social problems are shown in such a way as to stimulate the mind and evoke empathy. We might say that this year we?re encouraging our audience to practice dynamic ZEN, summarises Edyta Kozak.
All the festival editions to date have included 280 performances and events in 29 locations in Warsaw, which have been seen by more than 20,000 viewers.
The festival is co-financed by the capital city of Warsaw, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, and supported by the EU Culture Programme.
The Body/Mind International Contemporary Dance Festival has been held annually since 1995, when its first edition was organized by Edyta Kozak and Jarosław Żwirblis. Originally known as ?Małe Formy Teatru Tańca? and the first event of its kind in Poland, the festival was renamed to Body/Mind, presenting dance as a thought-provoking field which integrates the matter (body) with ideas (mind), offering new possibilities to present latest art projects. Since 2009, the festival has been held annually, with each edition heralded by a new leitmotif. The festival presents the oeuvre of groundbreaking artists of each generation, including many eminent international artists, for whom the festival frequently serves as the venue of Polish premieres of their work.