It was a great moment and a sad moment this Friday at Tvornica Kulture for Zagreb’s contemporary dance scene. A local premiere of Trafik Theater’s Welschmertz, inspired by music from a regional cult band Ekatrina Velika, marked the beginning of 33rd Dance Week Festival (Tjedan Suvremenog Plesa), the biggest contemporary dance festival in this part of Europe.
A great moment because because it’s the pinnacle, as every festival opening is, of a year round work of local dancers and organizers. A sad moment because this might be the last year the festival, and the entire dance scene, have the only place in the city entirely dedicated to dance arts and its practitioners – Zagreb Dance Center in Ilica street. The municipal government has decided that the center is not financially valid, and are giving it away to ZeKaEm theater as its second location. People who worked and practiced in the center will be merged with the theater and become one of it subsidiaries. This, of course, did not fair well with the entire dance scene, calling the move a step back for contemporary dance not just in Zagreb, but Croatia.
Dance Week Festival started in the midst of petition signing and other activities from the cultural scene in hopes to find a solution with the City and to keep the Center as an independent institution. With the central theme of this year’s festival being migrations, identity and belonging (a theme chosen months in advance), the organizers might have given it more meaning then intended, and much more fervor in their work to create a great lineup, proving the potential of contemporary dance in Zagreb.
The first days of the festival are focused on the Croatian selection moderated by international producers and experts, premiering works from young talents and established professionals, and continues with plays from international guests the likes of Mark Tompkins, Cie. I.D.A. production, Virgilio Sieni, Lada Petrovski Trnovsek, Don Gnu troupe, Jannik Elkær, Cie. Cube troupe, Christian Ubla, Serge Aime Coulibayla and many other local and international dancers who partake in productions of their plays.
You can check out the entire program and descriptions of plays HERE, and if you are keen on dance, support the local scene. The festival runs from May 27th to June 4th and plays will be performed at Zagreb Dance Center, Tvornica Kulutre club, Student Center theater, Gavella theater, Croatian National Theater (HNK) and Zagreb Youth Theater (ZeKaeM).