Krakow Dance Theatre was founded in 2008 as a continuation and expansion of the informal GRUPAboso, active since 1996. Led by Eryk Makohon and Pawel Łyskawa, the company has been present in the cultural sphere for many years. It is Krakow’s longest-tenured and most prolific organization, producing dance performances, educating in dance, and supporting the development and promotion of contemporary dance. A household name in Poland and Europe, the company regularly partners with and organizes a range of educational and artistic events.
The Krakow Dance Theatre has produced more than a dozen full-scale dance theater pieces in recent years. Its collaborations have included such guest choreographers, dancers and educators from all over the world as Idan Cohen, Anna Konjetzky, Ayrin Ersoz, Ole Meland, Manuel Ronda, Idan Porges, Thomas Steyaert and others. So far, the company has carried out projects under the National Institute of Music and Dance’s (NIMiT) “Choreographic Commissions” and “Stage for Dance” programs several times. Among others, in 2019, with additional support from the Office of the City of Krakow, the Krakow Dance Theatre staged the premiere of the Ersoz’s The Entrance. 2017 saw the development and premiere of MY/WY, produced thanks to Eryk Makohon’s Ministry of Culture and National Heritage grant. Well received by the theater community and awarded in the competition for “The Best Independent Theater Piece in Poland in the 2017/2018 season, MY/WY embarked on a tour of Poland in 2019, covering a total distance of 5,000 kilometers and visiting cultural centers in ten Polish small towns.
In 2020, the Krakow Dance Theatre co-produced the premiere of the performance Kantor. Burza (Kantor: A Storm) by Anna Godowska and Sławek Krawczyński, produced within the framework of “Choreographic Commissions”, run by the National Institute of Music and Dance. In 2021, the performative installation titled Okno Holenderskie (Dutch Window), produced during the pandemic, was appreciated by the theater community in Krakow, with the authors and performers of the piece receiving the prestigious Stanisław Wyspiański Theater Prize (the jury included Paweł Miśkiewicz, Olga Katafiasz, Jacek Popiel, Łukasz Drewniak and others).
In the 2021/2022 season, the Krakow Dance Theatre produced as many as four performances by young choreographers (HUMANIMAL by Magda Niedzielska, Natalia Dinges, Michał Przybyła and Piotr Skalski; GOŹDZIK W PUSTEJ MUSZLI (Carnation in an Empty Shell) by Aleksandra Bożek-Muszyńska and Piotr Skalski, ONE HUNDRED FALLS by Jakub Mędrzycki and Ilona Gumowska, and WHITE RABBIT by Agata Jędrzejczak).
One important aspect in the company’s activities involves education, both with regard to dancers and audiences; thus, some of the most important projects implemented in the recent years have included initiatives of educational and artistic nature, most of which have sought to combine both aspects. In 2016-2017, the Krakow Dance Theatre and the Central Europe Dance Theatre co-produced an educational program addressed to young dancers. Workshop cycles were held in Krakow, Budapest, Prague and Bratislava, implementing a program created by dance educators from Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. Polish pedagogues were represented by Eryk Makohon. The program has since seen been followed up by the COL-LAB project, which has yielded two performances featuring dancers of the Central Europe Dance Theatre and students of the Hungarian Dance Academy. One of those pieces was authored by Eryk Makohon.
The Krakow Dance Theater has co-created two projects in collaboration with the Kameny Artistic Agency (Time Machine and Common Front). The first one yielded a DVD featuring the music of Feliks Nowowiejski, performed by Sinfonia Varsovia under the baton of Sebastian Perłowski, along with a choreography performed by the Krakow Dance Theater and the students of the Dance Theater Department in Bytom.
The Krakow Dance Theatre has also implemented a large-scale educational project titled Ani słowa! Odbiór niewerbalnych wytworów kultury (Not a Word! The Reception of Non-verbal Products of Culture). Participating in the project were a total of 800 high school students in Krakow.
In addition to project-based initiatives, the Krakow Dance Theatre implements a year-round, ongoing educational system. In 2015, the company established the Krakow Dance Studio Alumni Studio. The Studio seeks to continuously educate students of contemporary dance. Classes are held in fixed groups across three levels, implementing a synergistic program that spans the study of movement techniques and body awareness, physical acting, broadly defined corporeal and vocal expression, and stage presence. Classes are non-commercial and take the form of an educational program, intended a continuous, several-year training in performance techniques. The courses are addressed to beginners, advanced amateurs and professionals alike. The Alumni Studio educates a total of approximately 120 students per semester. Over several years, the group of students has already formed a local community and audience centered around the Krakow Dance Company and contemporary dance in general. Some of the Alumni continue their own creative and performative activities and become active as educators of the next generation of dancers. Some use the Studio as a preparatory course for their subsequent professional career and academic education in the field, enrolling in dance universities in and outside of Poland.
The company’s activity as an organizer of artistic events, formerly realized in the form of festivals (such as the SPACER Contemporary Dance Festival or the 3…2…1…Dance Choreographic Competition and the GOODBYE, SUPERMAN dance presentation program), established by the Krakow Dance Theater leaders Eryk Makohon and Pawel Łyskawa, has taken the form of curatorial activities once the two they lost access to their own/permanent stage. The company seeks to promote and support dancers and choreographers based in Krakow and Poland, among others by organizing series of presentations and artistic residencies.
Since 2018, the leaders of the Krakow Dance Theatre, Paweł Łyskawa and Eryk Makohon, have curated the Rollercoaster: Collectors of Impressions program, co-organized by the company.
In 2020, Kraków Dance Theater launched the Ops! support program. The program aims to support graduates of the Dance Theater Department in Bytom (branch of the National Academy of Theatre Arts in Krakow) at the onset of their professional careers. It allows to stimulate consistent work of young professional dance theater artists. By providing them with workspace and continuous classes to stay in shape, and by raising funds for productions and residencies, the program is meant to sustain and support young dance artists through difficult at the early stage of their professional lives, following the completion of their academic education. It also enables the presentation of graduate premieres, fosters research processes and helps expand professional competencies to include specific aspects of dance teaching methodology and different ways of raising funds to support one’s activities and projects. Participants in the Ops! program (professional dancers) intermingle with the community of theater professionals in an environment conducive for dynamic mutual support.
The association is a non-governmental, self-financing organization. In the course of its 25-year activity, it has developed its own model of operation based on collaborations and energy exchange, both with artists and local communities. Citing ecology and the idea of “zero waste” as a context of their cultural activities, the company’s leaders regularly support young artists and provide the tools they have developed (such as access to a dance studio, promotional activities, legal formats, etc.) to enable creative activities. Artists affiliated with the Krakow Dance Theatre share their knowledge and experience with local communities of all ages through workshops, educational projects and “live meetings.” The resulting system consistently stimulates both the creative community and the recipients of dance art, who are likewise involved in its production and promotion through participatory activities organized by the company.
In its twenty-five-year existence thus far, the Krakow Dance Theatre has cooperated with a huge number of Krakow, Polish and European institutions and organizations. Among the Krakow-based entities collaborating with the company are the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology, Groteska Puppet, Mask and Actor Theatre, KTO Theatre, New Theatre in Krakow, Małopolska Garden of Art, Capella Cracoviensis, ICE Krakow Congress Centre, People’s Theatre, Nowa Huta Cultural Centre, Jagiellonian University, S. Wyspiański National Academy of Theatre Arts, and others. Some of the Polish and international collaborations include the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Silesian Theatre, STUDIO Theatre, Central Europe Dance Theatre, University of Performing Arts in Prague, Ballet School in Bratislava, Carte Blanche, Machol Shalem Dance House in Jerusalem, W&M Physical Theatre in Calgary, among others.
For an interview on the alternative model for dance, discussed by the leaders of the Krakow Dance Theatre in an interview with Anna Królica of the TEATRALNY.PL website, click below:
The concept of the Krakow Dance Theater activities assumes a close relationship between artistic, impressionistic and educational work. The leaders of the company focus on creating a participatory organization, in which the model of cultural reception is based not only on passive participation, but also on becoming part of a local community animated by and animating cultural events and activities. The creation of art is combined and intertwined with the continuous expansion of the community of its recipients, but also the stimulation of activities in which the recipients become creators or take an active part in the creative process. In addition to social projects, projects addressed to persons with disabilities, post-show talks, comprehensive education, the company produces easily accessible street performances, presented throughout the urban tissue of Krakow. To date, the Krakow Dance Theatre has produced a total of four street dance performances, along with dozens of outdoor shows developed in partnership with the KTO Theatre (including the International Street Theatre Festival, Poetry Night and others).
Authors and participants of the Gaga workshop speak on the Mixer project by the Krakow Dance Theatre:
Film celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Krakow Dance Theatre:
LINKS TO REVIEWS:
Articles on the Krakow Dance Theatre and its artistic methodology:
Laboratorium (w) ruchu. Z Erykiem Makohonem rozmawia Justyna Siemienowicz [in:] “Znak” 2014, no. 706.
Krakowski Teatr Tańca przedwczoraj, wczoraj, dziś i jutro, Hanna Raszewska [in:] „nietak!t” 2015, no. 20.