Born in 1974, Katarzyna Chmielewska is one of the best dancers and choreographers in Poland, and a co-founder of the Dada von Bzdülöw Theatre in Gdańsk, whose productions have appeared on stages worldwide.
Dancer, choreographer, co-founder of the Gdańsk-based Dada von Bzdülöw Theatre
Katarzyna Chmielewska graduated from the National Ballet School in Gdańsk in 1993, after which she started performing as a classical dancer at the Baltic State Opera, to then move to the Gdańsk Dance Theatre. In 1996-97 she studied contemporary dance at the Performing Arts Research and Training Studios (P.A.R.T.S) in Brussels, run by Anna Teresa de Keersmeaker. She is a co-founder and co-leader (together with Leszek Bzdyl) of the Dada von Bzdülöw Theatre. Considered one of the most original dance groups in Poland, Dada von Bzdülöw has produced around 45 performances since its foundation in 1993. The theatre aims to produce performances that directly engage with the time and place in which the encounter with the audience occurs. In 1997-2000 she had guest performances at The Municipal Theatre in Gdynia. In 2000 she worked in Brussels. During her six-month stay, she completed All apropos in collaboration with Magdalena Reiter and her own performance Enter as a part of an international project X-group, which was curated by P.A.R.T.S. ( Performing Arts Research and Training Studios, under the tutelage of Anna Teresa De Keersmaeker) initiative for young creators of modern dance. She was also a member of ŻAK student group in Gdańsk and Wybrzeże Theatre in Gdańsk.
Chmielewska has authored several choreographies, such as Si (2000), Dialogus in conventione (2001), so beautiful (2002), Bonsai (2005), Juicy Flesh (2005). Together with her group, she performed in UK, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, France, India, Ireland, Iceland, Israel, Spain, Slovenia, Palestine, USA, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, and Italy.
In 2000, she co-directed a spectacle titled Complexion with the Japanese dancer Chiharu Mamiya. The two artists decided to use this project as an opportunity to work around their mutual cultural differences. Jadwiga Majewska wrote in her review for Didaskalia magazine:
Complexion [...] from the very beginning appears to be very feminine, delicate, sensuous. After birth, she starts to learn the world, discover it and gain experience. This simple and obvious metaphor translates into some micro-actions - the dancer limits the space for movement into the colourful square and its edges. Slowly, with a child’s curiosity, she scrutinises the textures of the matter. Gently, with her feet, she’s feeling its diversity, dissimilarity [...] Chmielewska draws inspiration from different cultures, telling a story of finding home, a story with a rainbow of innermost worlds, and a similarity of human fate, no matter what skin colour. Because as the show goes on, the colourful patchwork translates into a message – the lot, doom, a life-story – create a unique, individual pattern of fate.
During several weeks in studio, we were looking in a mirror of different cultures, we were creating Complexion; a spectacle where the performer's body is a place where a lot of situations occur: feelings of joy, sorrow, thinking, then birth, death, sex, laughing, sneezing, shivering, crying and forgetting. Complexion is also a colour of existance, the area when the inner 'I' meets the outer 'I', on which surface the body comes to live and starting a dance of sense and nonsense.
In 2013, Katarzyna Chmielewska collaborated with the Spanish choreographer Roberto Olivan in creating the extremely well-received performance Enclave 4/7.
She participates in both Polish and international theatre and dance projects, such as the X-group – a six-month programme for young choreographers, based in Brussels, in a Prague-based improvisation project with Thomas Houert, and in Rodney Place’s multimedia project, realized in Paris.
Chmielewska has been involved in creating choreographies for several theatrical productions, such as Ciała Obce (Foreign Bodies) or Życie jest Snem (Life is a Dream), both directed by Kuba Kowalski. Since 2012 she has been a co-director of the Dance Library studio, which functions as Dada Theatre’s headquarters and a site for realizing art and educational projects.
So far, she has authored choreography and stage movement for: Don’t Stop the Fun (1997, The Witold Gombrowicz Municipal Theatre in Gdynia), The Vagina Monologues (2002, The Wybrzeże Theatre in Gdańsk), The Seagull (2002, The Witold Gombrowicz Municipal Theatre in Gdynia), Tales of the Viennese forest (2002, the S. Jaracz Theatre in Łódź), The Seagull (2002, The Studio Theatre in Warsaw), Titanic Orchestra (2007), Per procura (2011), and many others.
She has performed with the Dada Theatre at some of the major dance events worldwide, e.g. Festival d'Avignon, La MaMa Theatre and Danspace in New York, Live Arts Festival (Philadelphia, PA), Sammukh (New Delhi), Sishir Mancha (Calcutta), Beijing Fringe Festival, or SIDance Seoul International Dance Festival.
She regularly participates in Polish and international projects, eg. Landscape X (Stockholm, 1998), B-Visible (Gent, 2002) − improvisation workshops; Improvisations (Prague, 2003) – workshops in improvisation led by Thomas Houert; Trans Danse Europe (Avignon, Brussels, Helsinki, Prague, Reykjavik 2004-2006); ODYS-SEAS (Gdańsk, 2004); Angels of Stealth (Warsaw, Paris, 2005); Co-operation (Gdańsk, Geneva, Paris 2006); Real time composition (Poznań, 2007) – workshops led by Michael Schumaher; Factor T (Poznań, Philadelphia 2007-2008); Macbeth (Gdańsk, 2010) – performed in a multimedia spectacle produced by The 20th Gdansk Shakespeare Festival 2016.
Chmielewska states that dancing is her way to:
express deep feelings and show the real story in a non-verbal way. Dancing develops both the body and the mind, helps to open oneself up and create connection with people using aesthetic and emotional plane.
source: teatrdada.pl, culture.pl editor: AL, translated with edits by: AM, December 2013, updated April 2016 (ND)