Dada von Bzdülöw Theatre was founded by Katarzyna Chmielewska and Leszek Bzdyl in 1993 as one of the first Polish dance theatres. Before that Bzdyl was an actor at the Pantomime Theatre in Wrocław and Wojciech Misiura Expression Theatre. Chmielewska graduated from the Ballet School in Gdańsk and the prestigious P.A.R.T.S. in Brussels, directed by the founder of ROSAS, Anna Teresa de Kersmaeker (while in Dada). Their varied educational and professional backgrounds, resulted in a unique style of the group, inspired also by the Dadaists and works of Polish writers (Witold Gombrowicz seems to be Dada’s silent patron). Movement, dance, word, lyrics, play with form and convention, pastiche, grotesque and eclectics are invariable features of the group’s works, seen, in particular, in the performances of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Dada has produced nearly 40 performances, including the most famous: Magnolia (2002), Several Witty Observations (a la Gombrowicz, 2004), Bonsai (2006) and Faktor T. (2008).
From its inception, Dada von Bzdülöw has operated as a creative group, collaborating on a regular basis with a dozen or so artists; however, in the history of the theatre there have been many more of them. A generation of dancers, now co-creating the Tricity dance stage (such as Anna Steller and Filip Szatarski) began their careers at Bzdyl and Chmielewska’s theatre.
Currently, twelve dancers, also conducting their individual careers, feature the group’s performances. These are Tatiana Kamieniecka, Anna Steller, Julia Mach, Ula Zerek, Katarzyna Chmielewska, Izabela Chlewińska, Dominika Knapik, Rafał Dziemidok, Radek Hewelt, Filip Szatarski, Dawid Lorenz, Leszek Bzdyl. Dada’s performances are co-created by leading representatives of jazz and improvised music: Mikołaj Trzaska, Wojciech Mazolewski, SzaZa (Paweł Szamburski & Patryk Zakrocki).
Dada theatre has organized art events including the Day of the Beautiful Company (1996–2001) and Gdańsk Dance Corporation (2002–2007). The group collaborates on a regular basis with Tricity culture institutions (Miejski (City) Theatre in Gdynia, Baltic Culture Centre, Żak Club, Shakespeare Theatre Foundation) and in Poland (Stary Browar – Poznań, “Zamek” Culture Centre – Poznań, Re-wizje – Warsaw, Nowy (New) Theatre – Łódź). In 2008 the group started to closely collaborate with Wybrzeże Theatre in Gdańsk in the areas of production and presentation of performances.
The theatre has participated in numerous international projects: Landscape X, Intercult – Sweden, 1998, Drop Dead Gorgeous – Vincent Dance Theatre – UK, 2001–2002, Trans Dans Europe, Les Hivernales – Avignon, France, 2004–2006, SEAS, Intercult – Stockholm/Gdańsk, 2004, Faktor – T – Dance Advance – Philadelphia, the USA, 2007–2008. To date, the group has performed in 21 European countries as well as in India and, on many occasions, in the USA. The group has regularly received grants from the City of Gdańsk.
In 2012 the Theatre obtained its own base in Gdańsk-Wrzeszcz. (ul. Grunwaldzka 44). The theatre’s studio and office are located there. As Mirosław Baran writes: “250 square meters divided into smaller rooms. The council space used to be the Department No. 1 of the Provincial and Municipal Public Library, which was recently closed, as a multimedia Manhattan Library was opened nearby. For now, the agreement between the City and the Theatre will be signed for 3 years.” And further: “The Gdańsk group will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year. During all these years, the group did not have a base in practice, it collaborated with the Palace of Youth in Gdańsk, the Gombrowicz Theatre in Gdynia, Żak Club or even… the Dejmek Nowy Theatre in Łódź. For several years the group has presented its performances as a guest in the Wybrzeże Theatre. However, if the artists could train and perform in Wybrzeże, it was virtually impossible to run regular workshops there due to high usage of the theatre’s stages.” Thus, the new base will be of a great benefit for the group, and granting this space for the theatre – even if late – still is a great gift for Dada Theatre, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2013.
Based on the Mirosław Bazan’s article Dom dla Dady von Bzdülöw na 20. urodziny (Home for Dada von Bzdülöw for its 20th birthday), Gazeta Wyborcza Trójmiasto online, no. 88.
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