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Dance: passion and poison

Choreomania and social dancing are two concepts and phenomena that form the foundation of the latest play of the Polish Dance Theatre. Choreographed by Marta Ziółek, "Trucizna" ("Poison") is scheduled to premiere on 25 February at the Zamek Cultural Centre. 

photo: Andrzej Grabowski
photo: Andrzej Grabowski

Choreomania dates back to medieval times and refers to the first dance outbreaks that occurred at the time. Etymologically, the term is derived from the Greek words choros (dance) and mania (madness). It denotes manifestations of bodily movement in public spaces or clubs that were inconvenient for the authorities. On the other hand, the off-stage social dancing referred to in the performance is choreographically empowered to help build physical bonds and evoke empathy.

Although the two are worlds apart in historic terms, the authors of the performance argue that there is something that ties them together. "Choreomania comprises a number of different phenomena. People were known to break into dance in public spaces for no apparent reason", explained the writer Anka Herbut at a conference preceding the premiere. "It was one dancer at first, joined by another and another until finally a whole crowd would end up dancing. The dancers didn't follow any particular styles. Their movements were unstructured, truncated and rather erratic", she added. Social dances also take place off stage. "The original intention is never to perform these dances perfectly the way they are expected to look. You dance to establish a sense of community through movement and in social terms", she added to further clarify the relationship between the two phenomena.

Why "Poison"? Because the authors are examining dance as both a pursuit of passion and a poisoning, an intoxication. They observe dance take over the bodies of individuals and become their personal experience. They move between the individual and the collective. They watch dance expressed as a group experience. ""Poison" is an odd marriage of things that do not normally go together. We end up poisoning a certain type of dance. The poisoning happens at multiple levels", says choreographer and director Marta Ziółek. The spectacle alludes to Climax by Gaspar Noé and the revue madness described in the song "Poison" by Prodigy. The audiences will see elements of stylised court dances with an admixture of vogue, cramp and house.

Costumes for the performance have been made by Tomasz Armanda, the creative director of the Limanka Fashion House. "They are made from recycled materials. I visited a second-hand wholesale clothing outlet and found items used for rehabilitation: bands, orthoses and the like", says Armanda. "We looked into the bios of every dancer, and they are not written in ordinary language. We interviewed the dancers and found one issue they had in common: their problem was that dance poisoned the dancer potentially causing harm to their bodies. I am referring to the injuries suffered by many dancers", adds Marta Ziółek. The costumes, made by Rafał Dominik, feature distinctive symbols and dancer faces, which come in two versions: the usual everyday face and the "poisoned" kind.

The person responsible for the music was Lubomir Grzelak who revealed that his main inspiration was the old and courtly variety. "You will hear a lot of baroque oboe and harp...", said the composer.

Monika Nawrocka-Leśnik

translation: Krzysztof Kotkowski

  • Trucizna (Poison) of the Polish Dance Theatre
  • Choreographed and directed by Marta Ziółek
  • CK Zamek (The Castle Cultural Centre), Sala Wielka (Grand Hall)
  • Premiere: 25 February at 8pm, next show: 3 March at 8pm

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