Drown in misunderstandings

'Silent Talk'

Many Czech dancers left the country in the 90s. After a few years abroad they are now slowly coming back home with new ideas, inspiration and experiences. Czech dance is catching up with the rest of the world bringing together theatre, movement and dance. Some of this can be enjoyed at the Tanec Praha festival, currently under way in Prague.

Tereza Ondrova and Veronika Knytlova make up the choreographic duo VerTeDance. This year has been special for them. They were awarded the Sazka Award for the best new emerging dance artist and given 400 000 crowns and one year to create a new dance performance. Veronika Knytlova

"The award itself is too big. I think it would be better if it was divided between more dancing groups. We were surprised to get it. The competition was tough and it is difficult to decide. Dance is not objective. Now we have a year to prepare another project but we might have to put it off for another year. It happens quite often. Once you get such a prize you feel greater pressure. It is not easy."

The duo was chosen by an international jury. Their performance "Silent Talk" which was also part of the festival Tanec Praha is about a big abyss between two people living and breathing next to each other and yet drowning in misunderstandings. Tereza describes their performance:

"There is a point when Veronika spreads her hands towards me so I can lie down into them. I do so but she has a feeling that it is a trap. She can't move, she can't shake me off and she can't leave. After she ignores me for a while I simply leave but she does not notice the change. She keeps doing the same thing, the same movement again and again without realising I am long gone."

I had a chance to see a few performances at the festival and every single one, including "Silent Talk", seemed to be based on a story of negative feelings of some kind - solitude, unhappy love, despair. Veronika disagreed with my impression.

"Our performance is not completely negative. It is just a fact. It happens every day that two people meet, they talk and live together. At some point one of them does something and the other does not understand it. He interprets in his own way. It takes a long time to get to know each other and people have to communicate because they aren't telepaths. Many ridiculous misunderstandings can occur. It is just a typical example."

"Silent Talk" combines theatre and dance and explores the possibilities of light design and video projection. It is used to create a kind of fantasy third person, an imaginary friend who turns into a human being for a short while, establishes a bond with the dancers, and then disappears again. According to its authors VerTeDance it is no different from real life.