ALTER Dance Theatre was founded in 1985 in Kalisz by the choreographer and dancer – known by the unique name of Ruchmistrz (Master of Movement) – Witold Jurewicz, artistic director and main producer of the group’s performances. The theatre’s projects are based on individual movement of dancers, their own exploration, creating characters on stage and the relationships between them. The specific character of the work, assuming permanent expansion of the means of physical expression, develops dancers’ creative potential. The group was a kind of alternative dance school for the Polish dance scene, educating young generations of dancers and helping them to take their first steps in the field of contemporary dance. Quite often, these were the beginnings of their professional careers – the group worked with 85 dancers over 25 years. These include artists, who later began individual dance and choreographic careers, often founding their own groups, such as: Jacek Owczarek, Joanna Chitruszko, Eliza Hołubowska and Izabela Chlewińska. As Anna Królica wrote in her “Report on the status of dance in Kalisz” (2011) “An important dance centre developed in Kalisz around Jurewicz and his dance theatre. Dancers and choreographers were educated during workshops in the field of contemporary dance to become professionals. They held dance classes in the Performing Art School (PPSKAK) (specialization: dance). After a few years (1992) they organized festival-competitions – International Presentations of Contemporary Dance Forms, whose artistic director was Witold Jurewicz. From time to time the theatre also collaborated with Wojciech Bogusławski Theatre in Kalisz, as in Bluebird (2004) directed by Norbert Rakowski.
Until 2008 the theatre operated in Kalisz; in 2009 it moved to Łódź, where it collaborates with other artists – currently the main group consists of Jacek Owczarek’s Pracownia Fizyczna dancers: Mariola Benesz, Wojtek Łaba, Agnieszka Muczyń, Paweł Skalski, Radek Stępniak and Aleksandra Ścibor.
ALTER’s unique feature is its focus on the creative process, which results in permanent evolution of performance. The theatre’s projects, both strictly for the stage and happenings, are not typical choreographic compositions, as the artists never attempt to create closed and complete formula of performance.
In their day to day work, ALTER does not rely on any specific technique, trying to create their own movement and own language of stage expression. During classes, apart from defined dance and movement techniques, improvisation and contact improvisation, attention is paid to non-conventional methods, based on an individual approach to every dancer. Over the years the group has created numerous performances and dance actions, including these: Sin Piel (choreography by Izabela Chlewińska, Magdalena Witwicka, 2006), What would you do if you could do what you can’t do… (directed by Witold Jurewicz, concept: Izabela Chlewińska, Kama Jankowska – guest, Krzysztof Skolimowski – guest, Aleksandra Ścibor, 2007), I episode I (creation: Izabela Chlewińska, art consultation Witold Jurewicz, 2007), Shitty Dance Shitty (directed and choreography by Witold Jurewicz, 2008), The Best (choreography Witold Jurewicz, 2009), And What… (directed by Witold Jurewicz, concept: Mariola Benesz, Aleksandra Ścibor, 2009), Lovers (choreography by Witold Jurewicz 2010).
ALTER collaborates with artists from other fields, such as musicians and photographers. Music for performances is created by Jan Smoczyński, pianist and composer, and others. The theatre’s performances are accompanied by dance photography exhibitions of Katarzyna Maziała.
Another area of the theatre’s activities is education. Based on an extensive experience and teaching skills, dancers run classes, training courses and workshops in various fields of dance and movement techniques.