Award Committee: Mateja Bučar, Petra Tanko, Jasmina Založnik
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: Neja Kos
CHOREOGRAPHER / AUTHOR: Snježana Premuš
DANCER / PERFORMER: Tina Valentan
PERSPECTIVE CHOREOGRAPHER / AUTHOR: Kaja Lorenci
PERSPECTIVE DANCER / PERFORMER: Žigan Krajnčan& Gašper Kunšek
PRODUCER: Sabina Potočki
PEDAGOUGE: Andreja Kopač
PHOTOGRAPHER: Nada Žgank, Sunčan Stone
SPECIAL PRIZE BY THE AWARD COMMITTEE: Katja Legin
For the book Dvojnosti – Performer in njegovo delo (Dualities – a performer and his work – MGL, 2015) and her achievements in dance and choreography
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT 2017
As an independent expert adviser at ZKOS (JSKD) between 1977 and 2006, Neja Kos systematically developed the field of contemporary dance. Of particular significance is her personal engagement, insight and understanding of dance development in the 1960s and 70s which encouraged her to place contemporary dance in the existing formal system, creating the first valuable and long-term systemic acquirement at the time when today’s fragile funding system for contemporary dance – i.e., through the subventions of the Ministry of Culture and local communities – was far from being established.
Within JSKD she actually professionalised the possibilities of access to and contact with the contemporary dance activities in the world. She allowed children and teenagers to explore and realise their creativity, many making it all the way to the status of professionals. She invested extraordinary effort into the continuous popularisation of contemporary dance art.
Just as Ksenija Hribar brought and delivered the criteria of supreme artistic creations, Neja Kos established all the conditions of fundamental importance for the survival of this art, the best exploitation of its potentials as well as its popularisation in the broadest public.
All her moves and steps were thoughtfully directed to the full realisation of contemporary dance art (a network of dance teachers, Summer and Winter Dance School, Days of Dance – today’s Živa festival, Opus I, the study Ples od kod in kam, etc.). She brought the professionalisation of contemporary dance with all its elements to the point from where – with necessary expertise and dedication – it should be taken over by the national and local cultural policies.
The key positions of cultural policies lack people like Neja Kos who are able with a professional attitude, enthusiasm, as well as personal dedication, knowledge, insight and visions even in times of financial or political adversity, act to the benefit of contemporary art in a constructive and courageous manner.
CHOREOGRAPHER / AUTHOR
With an in-depth and precise study of different corporeal modalities and in a radical confrontation with the questions regarding what actually defines choreography, choreographer Snježana Premuš is a most valuable and important figure on the Slovenian dance scene. Indeed, she manages to avoid any automatic repetition of what is already known or pursued and radically fights against production conditions dictated by speed, standardisation or imposed rules. And she always surprises in her effort. Her profound research is centred on the evasive, unconscious, relational nature of the body and exploration of any potential corporeal landscapes. In doing so, she resorts to somatics and sensorics which she, like the walks through the latent, omnipresent or marginalised consciousness, transforms into structures and sculptures. She creates new bodies and lets us follow her when she structures them in a very specific manner and then somewhat different and again somewhat different. With the sole purpose of capturing the difference which reveals for the spectator a profoundly exploring body and mind. The questions she addresses might seem simple and the answers to them indisputable and obvious but in her complex and clear choreographic language she proves that the most obvious is often also the most problematic. We could even say that her choreography is most audacious and striking when the unusual bodily conglomerates, deviations, recombinations, fluctuations and re-coordinations reveal the very anatomy of human complexity. Despite or exactly because of such a complex subject matter her choreography is archaeological, primordial, genuine, innovative and also sensual. She persistently clarifies and materialises the invisible link between a purely bare attribute of the body and the idea, thereby opening widely and emancipating the awareness of the human body. This is also reflected in her work produced over the last two years: a short film Intelligent Body (2014), Physical Manifestations (2015) and Poiesis of Self (2016).
A choreographer and dancer, Tina Valentan has been active in the dance field for a number of years. Through an in-depth somatic research of a body she managed to develop choreographic and dance principles by way of which she skilfully transmits and translates inner impulses into complex, associative, abstract movement materials. Tina rises to extremely high quality levels playing with dance materials, challenges her own dance habits only to re-create them with high precision. Her dance performances are distinguished by extraordinary movement sensibility which extends in a broad spectrum of performing formats; from humorous, profoundly intimate, sexual, animalistic, ironic, playful, etc. Tina Valentan transposes different modes of expression with remarkable ease, combining them and, if required, underlining them even for the sole purpose of eventually redirecting them to a different field of expression. She engages in the creative process with a mature dance intelligence which makes her subtle performance an aesthetic pleasure – an experience which is deeply impressed in the spectator’s memory. Over the last two years she contributed significantly to many dance performances: The Hunting Season and Silver Blue by Milan Tomašik, Physical Manifestations by Snježana Premuš, Doodledee, It’s me co-authored by Katja Kähkönen, Mateja Ocepek, Katja Povše and Sanja Tropp Frühwald. In addition, she conceived and performed her own original project, Calypso.
PERSPECTIVE CHOREOGRAPHER / AUTHOR
The choreography of Just in Appearance Sometimes as Everyone Else can clearly be traced back to her debut, a duo with Ivan Mijačević, Awaiting Resonance, in which Kaja Lorenci already indicated that she thinks and bears a specific choreographic awareness, that she wants to create poetics from pure elementarities of the body, movement and consciousness. One such instance is a duo – the relation of two – as a substance matter of reciprocity; among consciousness, bodies, gestures, body parts, objectness and organicity, among resonances, possibly among necessities and non-necessity. One of the elementary qualities of Katja’s choreographic confrontation is that the movement is clear and precise and always autonomous – that it simultaneously resonates as a kinetic phenomenon and within the meaning, that the movement is trapped only in its potentiality because only this truly surprises. In the debut, the author tries to stem and embody the movement the moment before it is produced. Being engaged in something like this is closest to the imaginary tendency which is revealed in the process a productive, radical and logical choreographic choice. The selection of the team (Katja Legin, Žigan Kranjčan, Nataša Živkovič, Dejan Srhoj and Rok Vevar) is also fundamental to such a choreographic work and process which delicately, accurately and clearly searches for, provokes, engages and disengages disloyalty or loyalty to other bodies, space and the world. The work undoubtedly reflects an in-depth choreographic intent, a search for aesthetic autonomy, the actual relevant problematisation of the questions of contemporary dance and space, and the vision which tends to the poetic charge and critical reflection.
PERSPECTIVE DANCER / PERFORMER
Žigan Kranjčan and Gašper Kunšek
While still kids, Žigan Kranjčan and Gašper Kunšek mastered dance skills of their generation, from hip-hop, popping, breakdance to locking. But instead of stopping there, they crossed these borders and pursued new genres, exploring the differences among various styles, techniques and skills. They discovered contemporary dance archaeology and employed it on the street, on stage and everywhere in between. The street as the most authentic place of the unexpected, the ungracious venue of struggle for space, place, power and the meaning of ‘streetability’ – as we may identify their practice – is the productive heritage (their private academy) in their search of movement forms, implementation of dance codes, transposition of apparent limits. When we watch them in a duo, it becomes perfectly clear that their dance capacity and strength, tamed and untamed, are extraordinary not just because they have so much talent but because they do not take their talent and experience for granted. This is the quality with which they conquer the unknown and further upgrade and develop that which has already been conquered.
In their duos Unnamed and Alien Express we watch their delicate, attentive, respectful and relentless exploration of plasticity, endurance, tranquillity, speed, madness, clarity, void, fantasy and we get the impression that we travelled with them from “depravity to perfection and backˮ – in the aspiration to tirelessly provoke everything known and attainable which is what dance and aesthetics in general should be all about.
In her many years of activity and through perseverance, consistency and dedication Sabina Potočki not only developed, gave substance and highly professionalised the profession of a producer, but also in different segments complemented and underlined it with an extremely engaged attitude. She has gained valuable experience through her activity as a dancer, producer and a selector from Dance Theatre Ljubljana, City of Women and Emanat Institute. Her extensive knowledge and experience, which exceed the heterogeneous spectrum of production, and in particular her sensitivity to various needs of both artists and artistic processes allow her to deliver a perfect, accurate and most of all quality realisation of artistic creations which is, in the curtailed and damaged cultural-artistic environment, even more significant. The need and ability of a lucid reading, analysis, understanding and, last but not least, advocacy for contemporary performing arts enable her first to conceive the artistic processes and creations on the basis of an artistic vision, and then to perfectly organise, thoroughly prepare and manage them, simultaneously investing efforts to locate additional funds for the performance and a longer life for projects both locally and internationally. Also in the last two years, Sabina Potočki has co-signed a number of successful projects (Just in Appearance Sometimes as Everyone Else, Staging a Play: the Glass Menagerie, Image Snatchers, Choreographic Directory), workshops, creative processes and their presentations.
Dr. Andreja Kopač is active in the dance field in a number of different roles: she is a dramaturge, theoretician, teacher, publicist, critic, editor, selector, performer and initiator of many dance incentives. This broad spectrum of activity allows her easy transition into and combination of heterogeneous roles in a meaningful practice which is explicitly oriented toward young artists. Over the last two years she has, as the selector of the festivals Živa and Pika Miga proved her sensitivity to the earliest choreographic attempts of the youngest artists-to-be, as well as co-created space for the artists who only just pass the threshold of professionalism within the festival UkreP ZA. With her dramaturgical knowledge she substantiated and contributed to a higher quality of debuts and early choreographic-dance creations (including Wunderbare Jahre by Dagmar Dachauer, selfed by Kevin Trappeniers, In a Whirlwind of Time by Jerca Rožnik and Leon Marič, etc.). Andreja Kopač is evolving a lucid authority in the contemporary dance scene in Slovenia. She persistently opens the door to young artists, guiding, educating and directing them and thereby participating in their creative endeavours. With her activity, enthusiasm, in-depth knowledge and work she is becoming an indispensable part of the contemporary dance art in our country.
In the field of contemporary dance, art photography not only documents the dance scene but also builds a bridge to its audience. Besides providing communication before and after the event, it preserves a lasting memory. Continuous and personally engaged documenting of the contemporary dance scene which is simultaneously extremely professional and distinguished by elaborated aesthetic standards, Nada Žgank transforms two production concepts: the first is documentary material which is, due to the transitory nature of art media such as contemporary dance, indispensable for its historisation and analytical research; the second production concept is aesthetic and transforms a unique artistic event into a durable photographic record which far exceeds a mere documentary dimension.
Her photographs reflect a profound knowledge of fine art and the technical principles of media. Thoughtful framing illustrates the investment of the author while simultaneously demonstrating a subtle understanding of a stage event by either exposing the principal elements of the performance or accentuating some other elements whose sequence creates a new story of dancing bodies. In the project Duration by Andreja Podrzavnik, Nada Žgank crosses the line between the outer and the inner views, between the performer and the documentarist, thereby unfolding the medium of photography in a new aspect of the scenic-performative. The always present but marginal, almost hidden, position of the photograph turns out to be a constituent part of (any) performative event, an indispensable as well as irreplaceable element. Through recording and simultaneous co-creating, it expands the event, extends its life and invest it with new elements and forms the medium of a photo-book, which is at the same time a document and an autonomous, collective work of art.
In the field of contemporary dance, art photography not only documents the dance scene but also builds a bridge to its audience. Besides providing communication before and after the event, it preserves a lasting memory. Continuous and personally engaged documenting of the contemporary dance scene which is simultaneously extremely professional and distinguished by elaborated aesthetic standards, Sunčan Stone transforms two production concepts: the first is documentary material which is, due to the transitory nature of art media such as contemporary dance, indispensable for its historisation and analytical research; the second production concept is aesthetic and transforms a unique artistic event into a durable photographic record which far exceeds a mere documentary dimension.
His photographs reflect a profound knowledge of fine art and the technical principles of media. Thoughtful framing illustrates the investment of the author while simultaneously demonstrating a subtle understanding of a stage event by either exposing the principal elements of the performance or accentuating some other elements whose sequence creates a new story of dancing bodies. As a collector of evasive, living and inimitable dance events, Sunčan Stone has become an indispensable part of the dance scene as well as one of its most faithful companions. The photo archive he has created over recent years is invaluable, filled with dance events which almost comprehensively cover the contemporary dance production in Ljubljana. He says about himself: “I may not be synesthetic, but I know that when I see dance, I just have to photograph it.ˮ The photographs he takes are alive and express dynamics in the moments when an individual or collective body on the stage stands still, which is that special quality which affirms the importance of Sunčan’s work in the field of contemporary dance.
SPECIAL PRIZE BY THE AWARD COMMITTEE
Katja Legin (for the book For the book Dvojnosti – Performer in njegovo delo (Dualities – a performer and his work – MGL, 2015) and her achievements in dance and choreography
Katja Legin deals with the creation, research and understanding of her art from, so to speak, all possible aspects and skills. Such necessity derives from and is fed by excellent performativity with which she constantly enraptures in the accuracy, clarity, determination and delicacy which she demonstrated in the works Time Body Trio by Andreja Podrzavnik, Synaesthesia by Matjaž Farič, Just in Appearance Sometimes as Everyone Else by Kaja Lorenci and On(the)Line by Mateja Bučar. Between 2012 and 2015 she started and implemented a pilot project called No!training Lab in which she proposed a structured research model of creative procedures that performative skills and movement, dance, choreography, dramaturgy and improvisation want to pose to the dance and performing practices: a valuable experience for the team as well as the broader dance community which thereby acquired and tested a potential model for supreme research and creative endeavours in the field of contemporary dance. No!training Lab resulted in the final work titled Variations to Slowness – a full-blooded, witty and very relevant theatre-dance exploration marked by (co)slowness but also a range of potential approaches and lucid theatrical dispositifs for future work. Katja intertwined the laboratory and her co-creation into master’s thesis research upgraded with the findings of simultaneous practice into the book Dvojnosti – Performer in njegovo delo [Dualities – a Performer and his Work].Through theory and practice the book provides a range of extremely relevant views, considerations, theories, philosophical insights and experimental knowledge intertwined with subtle personal perceptions of practical research and observation. Such an engaged and complex work in the field of contemporary dance is a rarity in our country and for this reason extremely valuable.