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Do It: If you feel like dancing

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Alt@rt is an open group of people who came together through their mutual love for modern and alternative dance. It was established two years ago by Slovak dancers Jaro Viňarský (winner of the Sazka award in 2006) and Lucia Kašiarová and technical production manager Petr Voříšek. They wanted to offer background facilities for choreographers and dancers to develop their ideas and rehearse new projects.

Alt@rt stands behind a number of festivals bringing together Czech and Slovak dancers. Every year they present Slovak modern dance projects in the Czech Republic (Hybaj ho!), followed up by a festival of Czech modern dance around the towns in Slovakia (Hybaj ho! CZ festival).

Ever since the start, their main goal was to find a place that would enable them to create a multifunctional space, inspired by similar projects abroad, and that would facilitate the organisation and preparation of dance or theatre performances. Their idea was to offer residences for dance or theatre projects from around the world with all the background equipment provided, financed by a variety of cultural grants.

Finally, in April this year, they managed to rent an abandoned hall in an industrial complex in Holešovice and have turned it into a pleasant place for dance workshops. Studio Alt@, as it is called, currently offers space for rehearsals, as well as regular public dance training sessions aimed at professional dancers or people with dance experience.

But anyone can join in. Be aware, though, that they will not slow down for you. The sessions take place approximately twice a week and are run by a variety of professional dancers you be familiar with if you are a regular visitor of Divadlo Ponec. Each dancer-teacher has a unique style, so every session offers a different approach to modern dance.

The sessions do not tend to be overcrowded, since they only started in September, and the word hasn’t spread yet. Chances are you and your friend will be the only people to turn up, in which case you will find yourself at the teacher’s mercy – just like I did the other day. My friend and I did not know what we were in for. The session was taught by Lucia Kašiarová who happens to be my primary school friend and who is also six months pregnant. Since neither I, nor my friend are dancers, except for the occasional jumping up and down at a concert, I thought a pregnant friend should be the perfect teacher for us.

But Lucia decided to conduct an experiment since it is not often she gets her hands on two non-dancers. And so she asked us to alternate in leading one another with the help of touch, push or pull. The one who was being led, at first had to obey the instructions, then fight them until, finally, we were able to interact with one another in something resembling a dance. Lucia stood aside watching us, obviously pleased to see untrained, spontaneous, though probably rather clumsy, rendering of an ordinary modern dance exercise.

Toward the end of the session, she joined us and we rehearsed a short set of movements which we were supposed to repeat with emphasis on something else each time. We were to focus on our vision and notice everything we happened to look at during the movement, then to try to feel every muscle we engaged or concentrate on our breathing, trying to recognise what the movements did on the inside. In the end, we just accelerated the succession of movements to the highest possible level which left us laughing on the floor. A perfect ending to a session.

If you do not feel like joining professional or experienced dancers but still feel like dancing, wait until the first weekend in December when Studio Alt@ is planning to hold a weekend workshop for non-dancers.

More information on Alt@rt and Studio Alt@ programme can be found at
Dance training sessions cost CZK 50

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