In 2013, a group of 13 dancers and choreographers founded the Centre in Motion in Warsaw. It's a unique place on the map of Poland - a dance centre and laboratory of art run by independent artists who multiply their efforts and attack the art scene.
When she's not training or performing, dancer and choreographer Marysia Stokłosa, who graduated from the School of New Dance Development in Amsterdam and The Place in London, manages a foundation that researches and produces educational projects in new and contemporary dance, performance and interdisciplinary arts called Burdag.
Despite all her work, until now, she severely felt the absence of two things - a contemporary dance community, and a space that would serve as their common place of development. When she left for the United States and met the creators of the Mascher Cooperative, she figured out exactly what Poland was lacking. The Philadelphia-based space is a co-op founded by artists, run by artists and shared by artists. In other words a home for new dance. - I thought to myself - if they can do it, we can too in Warsaw - she tells Culture.pl.
Centre in Motion fills a gap and creates a space for pooling skills, ideas, and resources. It's the first successful Polish attempt at bringing independent artists together to manage a space, experiment and revolutionise the city in the process. Stokłosa's work and stage partners are dancers and choreographers of the performative arts: Aleksandra Borys, Izabela Chlewińska, Maria Jędrzejewska, Korina Kordova, Agnieszka Kryst, Ramona Nagabczyńska, Weronika Pelczyńska, Magda Ptasznik, Iza Szostak, Karol Tymiński, Wojtek Ziemilski and Renata Piotrowska.
In their own words: "We have been gathering experiences and shaping our styles for a long time. In the last couple of years, we have begun forging our artistic paths in Poland and abroad. Despite divergent interests and artistic languages, we decided to stick together in order to provoke change. Centre in Motion creates new opportunities for creative work. It was set up and is managed by the artists themselves - it is built on needs, from the inside, from the centre. It's meant to motivate us, to increase our reach. Together, we can stimulate the development of the dance and performative arts milieu and raise the visibility of these disciplines in the cultural life of the capital."
They are a part of the Solo Generation of twenty and thirty-year-old artists who do not feel at home at either the traditional ballet schools, or in dance-theatre companies.
Their new work place is located in an old school building in the Warsaw district of Wawer. They were granted access to it thanks to the City Council, which is expanding its "Zone of Culture in Wawer" project. They have at their disposal a large room for dancing and a couple of smaller rooms. - Three things come to mind when I think about the Centre in Motion: liberty, independence and experiment - says Izabela Chlewińska.- We are a group of creators who have the courage and strength to follow the challenging path of exploring our own language. This space makes that possible. When it comes to art, we give 100% and nothing less. And that requires courage and determination. We work independently, but together, we multiply our efforts and our attack force in the urban space. We don't do anything on commission. This is a place of work, development and everyday practice. We created a strong organism. We can't predict the future, we don't know what will come next, but it's that uncertainty, the risk and willingness to create a new quality that brings us together.
Dance between people
There's one more thing - adds Magda Ptasznik - It's the freedom from the system of institutions and system of residencies that allows us to work on our ideas before we receive funding or a grant. Art is born between people. What dance and choreography needs is a milieu of people that discuss with and support each other. We comment, we criticise and we challenge each other. We are all choreographers and dancers, which doesn't mean that our artistic preferences are close to each other, we have different interests and aesthetics, and that, paradoxically, is our strength and mutual inspiration. We learn from each other. We show what it means to artists to share an urban, creative, discussion and dance space.
Not all the artists involved in the project consider it to be solely a place of work. Iza Szostak says - We received access to a new public, we were granted the opportunity to create the dialogue of the Warsaw dance milieu.
The space has already generated its first performance. Szostak's Body. Child. Object. presented among others in the Poznań Stary Browar. In the performance, together with Jakub Słomkowski, she invited the spectators into a private museum of her childhood. As part of another project, together with Magdalena Jędra and Weronika Pelczyńska, she undertook a dance investigation into the future of Europe. The triple solo is titled Europa. Investigation and premieres on the 11th of July 2014 in Komuna// Warszawa as part of the programme the Future of Europe. Rehearsals are open to public at the Centre in Motion.
The strength of improvisation
Apart from performances, shows and dance etudes, the Center offers more to the general public: educational projects for young choreographers and dancers, work-in-progress showings, free workshops for kids and laboratories of new dance. According to director, author and choreographer Wojciech Ziemilski, it's a neutral and mouldable space, ideal for examining the creative process of preparing and working on a show. - We can finally work in peace and freedom - he rejoices.
Improvisations are often taken outside of the four walls of the building, into galleries and gardens - We are looking for fragmented, unconventional movement that often results from contact with the other, there are a great many ways of approaching dance, what rejoices me is being their master - admits Szostak. Stokłosa is quick to add: - There is something radical and political in working with the body, finding a place in today's world where the artist can independently explore is quite something! - The most important thing - Pelczyńska chimes in - is to find your place in a group of such strong personalities.
Author: Anna Legierska, translator: Mai Jones 09/07/2014