A talented choreographer and performer combining dance with painting, fashion, visual arts, and 90s music videos. She has performed on stages in Poland and abroad, for instance in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and United States.
Ziółek was born in 1986. She graduated from Interdisciplinary Individual Studies in the Humanities (MISH) at the University of Warsaw and the Faculty of Choreography at the School for New Dance Development in Amsterdam. She also completed Vorausbildung – a dance course at Tanz Fabrik in Berlin, while in 2011, she was a recipient of the prestigious grant Dance Web to take part in the ImpulsTanzFestival in Vienna.
A year later, she took part in the Europe in Motion platform for young choreographers. She showed her works at international festivals, performing at Something Raw Festival in Amsterdam, Spring Dance in Utrecht, at the Hetveem theatre in Amsterdam, Volksbühne in Berlin, and Joyce Soho in New York. Critics describe Marta Ziółek as one of the most interesting choreographers of the young generation, praising her interdisciplinary approach and combination of dance with visual arts.
She is the author of the project Body Eye (2013), inspired by works of the American artist Carolee Schneemann, realised for Komuna//Warszawa. As she has said, in her practice, she is passionate about introducing revolution and utopia to dance.
In my RE//MIX, I concentrate on three of her works: Eye Body: 36 Transformative Actions, Meat Joy, and Interior Scroll. They all expand the notion of choreography and offer a perspective which is closely related to visual arts and painting, they shift the attention from a dancing body to the matter of an object in motion. They also open the space to a situation, community, and a potential stored in specific bodies.
In Black on Black, the artist investigate the issue of blackness in choreography. Its starting point is the series of black paintings by Alexander Rodchenko as well as the appropriation of the language of street dance as a tool for measuring the force of movement. – I was fascinated with Constructivism, which is how I came up with the crazy idea to transport painted works to the field of choreography and dance – Marta Ziółek said on the RDC radio station. The performance was realised in collaboration with Het Veem Theater and Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw.
She has also combined her performances with fashion. Her Twerk Like a Teen Spirit was an experimental choreography accompanying the diploma collections of students from the Fashion Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Paweł Soszyński wrote on dwutygodnik.com:
This manic tribute to the 90s, in which the essentially sophisticated tailoring clashes with candy coloured nylon, elaborate lace with fleshy, crude make up, and the cat walk with a twerking machine, is the most vulgar and yet the most accurate commentary on fashion I have ever seen. It is exceptionally difficult to place Twerk… on the map of performative arts. It is neither choreography, nor dramatic theatre, neither a happening nor a concert – who knows what it is. We are somewhere on the intersection of a party attack straight from a block of flats, VHS tape recordings of all-night MTV marathons, and Dorota Masłowska’s writing.
Marta Ziółek however gained the attention of a broader audience after the loud premiere of the dance performance Make Yourself at Komuna Warszawa, cited as one of the most interesting premieres of 2016. – We find ourselves in something between a gym, a techno party and a corporate church of mindfulness – Ziółek writes in the press release for the show, in which she explores the process of creating one’s style, language, identity, and sexuality. Witold Mrozek wrote in Gazeta Wyborcza:
Make Yourself positions itself somewhere between a political critique, an ironic joke, and a commercial spot. Fluorescent outfits, Coca Cola shorts, and then a singer with a voice straight from a 1950s movie, suddenly landing in this neon world of contemporary dance as if she came from outer space. Each of the performers assumes a catchy nickname, as if from an internet portal: Beauty, Coco, Glow, and High Speed. The choreographed sequences are looped like workout exercises. Make Yourself creates a collage in the style of exaggerated hipster glamour, with terribly bright visualisations in the background, resembling old school video games. After all, they are also in nowadays.
Besides working on her auteur dance performances, Marta Ziółek has also collaborated on dramatic shows. She designed scenic movement for, among others, Ewelina’s Crying directed by Anna Karasińska from TR Warsaw. Her latest performance, So Emotional, is shown at Nowy Theatre.
sources: Nowy Theatre, taniecpolska.pl, dwutygodnik.com, Museum of Modern Art, Gazeta Wyborcza, ed. AL, transl. AM, January 2017