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Leszek Bzdyl

Leszek Bzdyl, photo: Tomek Kamiński
Leszek Bzdyl, photo: Tomek Kamiński

Even as he approaches his 50s the actor, choreographer and dancer who's been performing since 1987 can still boast the agility and freshness of a 20-something. Co-founder and artistic director of the independent collective of professional dancers and actors Dada von Bzdülöw Theatre, Bzdyl considers dance the most complete and effective training in the preparation of an actor's body for performance.

Bzdyl said about his first steps in the world of dance:

I was trying to understand my supervisors' thearical thought. First it was master Tomaszewski's pantomime – with a great dose of engagement I was studying, exploring the secrets of the art to completely deny what I had learnt after leaving this theatre, having only the essence of the experience. Wojciech Misiuro’s Theatre of Expression was a colourful adventure with a completely different kind of presence of a stage. And it all was after a training á la Grotowski. Obviously, I was too young to participate in it directly, but the whole Wrocław was stigmatized with the atmosphere of Grotowski's theatre. It was an unstoppable message, a vibrant context. Working in a training room was based on similar techniques, we all studied 'the books...'

A history graduate who began to work as an actor and pantomime, in his 20s Leszek Bzdyl began to search for an escape from pantomime in a different form of movement. In 1994 he met a man by the name of Cornelius Fisher Credo at a university in Canada. Working on the peripheries of Canadian dance, his 'human approach' to what he was doing gave Bzdyl the tools and confidence to feel his own energy and power. 'Dance seemed to open up the body and make a perfect acting training – but it was still theatre' the dancer explained.  Merging together his experience as a pantomime, actor and dancer, his stage language is a theatre liberated from conventions. Through dance the body enters into a creative process which supports the actor/dancer in his effort to perform on stage. Encouraging incidents and the uninterrupted flow of emotions, liberated dance is a basis for working with the voice and it enhances the definition of the character played by the actor. 'Organic dance movements do not create barriers between a stage dialogue and creation of abstract forms' Bzdyl goes on.

While inspired by East Asian meditative body techniques, the expressiveness of the Henryk Tomaszewski mime School, and contemporary dance forms developing in Europe and the Americas, what can be said of Bzdyl’s dance is that it is not confined to aesthetics and its narrow framework. 'I’m close to English physical theatre, as the structure of a performance is grounded in human individual – dance is a derivative of energy and character rhythm, it’s not a superior element of piece, it results from meeting another person or void' he explains in an interview for DanceDesk.

In 1992 Bzdyl together with Katarzyna Chmielewska, established in Gdańsk a dance theatre - Dada von Bzdülöw. In one of their manifestations, the artists say:

We do it for Your Beautiful Company, 

for Your Infernal Intellect or Constant Lack of Thoughts,

for Your Tears and Your Feeling of Embarrassment, 

for Your Escape from the theatre after the very first five minutes, 

for Your Determination, Sickness, Sloth, Happiness, Loftiness. Amen



They also say that:

Each and every performance made by Dada Theatre, together with a basic desire to be a performance somewhere between lent and carnival, is also a result of searching and refreshing the rules of communication with audience

Bzdyl's dance and theatre sessions draw upon his individual experience of 20 years of studio and theatre practice with Dada von Bzdülöw Theatre and 140 theatre/choreographic projects from 1987-2012. Meetings with international choreographers and contemporary dancer teachers Chris Aiken, Melissa Monteros, Cornelius Fisher Credo, Randall Scott, Rip Parker, Avi Kaiser, Tatiana Baganova, Thomas Hauert as well as Polish theatre directors Piotr Cieplak, Zbigniew Brzoza, Edward Wojtaszek, Julia Wernioindividuals have determined his movement system.

Considered one of the most original Dance groups in Poland, Dada von Bzdülöw has produced around 40 performances since its foundation in 1993. Their performances are grounded in the "here and now" and demand the presence of mind and participation of the audience. When the viewer takes part in the process of creation, the performance becomes "inconsumable". In the same interview Bzdyl ellaborates "when you call something ‘Teatr Dada’ in writing, Dada becomes something completely different in the next performance. The reviewer is drifting on a sort of ice float, he can’t stand by his opinion, his discovery". Jadwiga Majewska comments "In essence, each particular production with even greater clarity adds to the whole that is internally diverse. No matter how loose-fitting the dramatic structure of the performances may seem, they all seem related to one another – by a web of intricately spun inner tensions, and related to the outside world – by a web of outside references".

Dada Von Bzdulow’s performances frequently draw upon contemporary literature and plays, such as Werner Schwab’s People Annihilation or my Liver is Sick or A Few Witty Remarks by Witold Gombrowicz, but Bzdyl remarks 'What we do is our own. In our works there are barely any quoations, although we are obviously not completely resistant to what happens in the outer world. Yet it’s our individual language, our theatre'. Directing over twenty Dada Theatre performances, Bzdyl has performed with the group at countless Polish festivals and in over 20 European countries as well as India, USA, Israel and Palestine.

Born in Wrocław in 1964, Leszek Bzdyl’s professional career began in Wrocław's Henryk Tomaszewski Pantomime Theater (1987 – 1990) and Wojciech Misiura’s Theatre of Expression (1990-1992). Since 1994 he co-operated as a director, choreographer, stage movement director and actor with drama theatres in Poland. Since 1990 he has run theatre workshops and given dance classes throughout Poland: at the Ballet School in Gdańsk, Vocal and Drama Studio of the Music Theatre in Gdynia, Theatre Academy in Warsaw as well as abroad, in the Czech Republic, France, Finland, Germany, Sweden, UK, USA, Zimbabwe.

Bzdyl has participated in numerous international projects, among others Landscape X (Interkult, Stockholm, 1997), In the body and Papugaj (Baltic Dance University – Gdańsk, 2000), Drop Dead Gorgeous (co-production of Dada Theatre with Vincent Dance Theatre from UK, 2001), Several Witty Observations − Trans Danse Europe (Avignon, Brussels, Helsinki, Prague, Reykjavik, 2003/2004), Out of Bounds/ Faktor T (Dance Advance, Philadelphia, USA, 2007/2008) and Co-operation (CDN −Paris, Festival La Batie − Geneve, Opera, 2006).

For Dada von Bzdülöw Theatre Bzdyl directed amongst other: Girls, Dolls and Nothing (1993), In the Shadow of Blooming Girls (1994), The Heart Wrencher or the Tube of Shame (1996), The Mn Who Was Lying – For Example Heiner Müller (1996), Pavane in Honour of Love (1998), Room for Hire (2001), Magnolia (2002), Eden (2006), Barricade of Love (2008), Factor T (2008). Dada Theatre's Red Grass from 2009 was presented at the Dance Platform in 2010. The whole performance is availabe online: 

Then it was time for Le Sacre (2011) inspired by The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky, Non existent duets (2011), Play it, so 17 dances about something (2013), Transmigrazione di fermenti d'amore (2014) and Intro (2015). 

The group travels a lot and performs on many stages in Poland, Europe, as well as in China, India, Israel, Palestine and USA. Bzdyl writes about dance and theatre on Dada Theatre's website:

My technique is strongly rooted in the theatre tradition. For me, dance is currently the most complete and most effective training in the preparation of an actor's body for stage performance. In my technique the very impulse initiates a dance, as well as any forms of voice trainings. Organic movements of the dance do not create any barriers between a stage dialogue and creation of abstract forms. My work method, or the system I use and which I may propose: consistent balance between tension and relax, co-ordination of movement and breathing, finding out anatomic relations of movement apparatus and conscious usage of our potential and abilities when dancing. Expansion of space inside the body and establishing relations of a dancing body and stage space, a dialogue with a partner and all successive stages of setting the theatre activity are just the result of the elements of the system mentioned above.

He authored many choreographies for drama theatres in Poland: Municipal Theatre in Gdynia, Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw, Studio Theatre in Warsaw, Polski Theatre in Bydgoszcz, Ateneum Theatre in Warsaw and many others. The plays include: Silence about Job (dir.: Piotr Cieplak , 2013), Ice (written by Jacek Dukaj, dir.: Janusz Opryński, 2013), Carnival (written by Sławomir Mrożek, dir.: Jarosław Gajewski, 2013), Irydion (written by Zygmunt Krasiński, dir.: Andrzej Seweryn, 2013), Endless Story (dir. Piotr Cieplak, 2012), Midsummer Night Dream (written by William Shakespeare, dir.: Barbara Suchocka, 2012), Tourists (written by Magnus Dahlström, dir..: Lena Frankiewicz, 2012), Night (written by Andrzej Stasiuk, dir.:Julia Wernio, 2011), Carlie Boxer (dir.: Piotr Cieplak, 2010), Macbeth Remix (dir.: Robert Florczak, 2010), Delhi Dance (written and directed by Ivan Vyrypayev, 2010), Tango (written by Sławomir Mrożek, 2009), The Marchant of Venice (dir.: Gabriel Gietzky, 2008), Stories for children (written by Isaak Bashewis Singer, dir.: Piotr Cieplak, 2007), They (written by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, dir.: Jarosław Gajewski), A Mauthful of birds (written by Caryl Churchill, David Lan, dir.: Paweł Szkotak, 2007), Othello (written by William Shakespeare, dir.: Jacek Glab, 2006), Cosmos (written by Witold Gombrowicz, dir.: Jerzy Jarocki, 2005), White Marriage (written by Tadeusz Różewicz, dir.: Grzegorz Wiśniewski, 2003), Happy End (written by Bertolt Brecht, dir.: Marjore Hayes, 2002), Helver's night (written by Ingmar Villqist, dir.: Zbigniew Brzoza, 2000), Angel steps down to Babylon (written by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, dir.: Julia Wernio, 2000), Operetta (written by Witold Gombrowicz, dir.: Waldemar Smigasiewicz, 2000), The Tempest (written by William Shakespeare, dir.: Julia Wernio, 1999), Japanese tales (dir.: Marzena Tokarska, 1997), Misanthrope (written by Moliere, dir.: Julia Wernio, 1996), The Beelzebub's sonata (written by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, dir.: Julia Wernio, 1995).

Bzdyl collaborated with the Municipal Theatre in Gdynia, between 1997 and 2000 he curated series of artists' meetings Dzień Pięknego Towarzystwa. From 2002 to 2007 he coordinated Korporacja Tańca Dance Festival in Gdańsk. The festival was created to promote dancers and choreographers based in Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot. He is also an active teacher. He works at the State Ballet School in Gdańsk. Since 2007 he has been a pedagogue at the Aleksander Zelwerowicz National Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw . He has also led drama workshops in UK, France, Czech Republic, Finland and Germany. 

Bzdyl said:

 Working with actors and directors opens new ways for inspirations. I think I gave as much experiance from Dada Theatre to other theatres as I got in return, when I was watching directors and actors working. It has obviously affected Dada's productions. It a way easier to experiment on independent, off stage and to apply some revolutionary stylistic formulas.

Awards:

  • 1999 – Award of the President of Gdańsk; Award of the Ministry of Education;
  • 2000 – Award of the President of Gdynia
  • 2007 – Sztorm Roku 2006 – Award of the Gazeta Wyborcza – Trójmiasto newspaper; Theatre Award of the Marshal of the Pomerania Province for directing, choreographing and performing Eden and his exceptional Dada von Bzdülöw Theatre; International Theatre Award Theatre Pasta in India
  • 2010 – Honourable Mention for Merit to Polish Culture
  • 2011 – Theatre Award of the Marshal of the Pomerania Province; Award of the President of Gdańsk for Le Sacre; Individual Award of the President of Gdańsk;
  • 2012 – Award of the President of Gdańsk.

Sources: culture.pl, Dada Von Bzdulow website, DanceDesk interview, CultureBase, WarsawFlowFestival, TaniecPolska,

Author: Marta Jazowska, updated May 2016 (ND).

Culture.pl
Culture.pl
2016/05/31
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Leszek Bzdyl

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