Tanz im Quadrat

Award – winning experimental physical theatre performance explored an inherent violence in human agency: man versus man, man vs. woman, woman vs. woman and performers vs. audience. The radical performance was controversially received, because of an extensive usage of violence. It combined highly aesthetical images with raw existence of naked bodies. The performance researched the relationship between media (sound and image) and human body. Naked performers were remapped by their projected 1:1 scale doubles.
By blending real and virtual body, it created a hypnotic sculptures, that could be described as a „third body“. The project was awarded by festival Next Wave as a „Project of the Year“ and „Success of the Month” by the Theare Newspapers.

Performing: Jan Mocek, Jan Hofman, Pavel Martinec, Markéta Dvořáková, Michaela Žemlová
Directing: Jan Mocek, Jan Hofman 



Nina Vangelí: Quadrature of the circle of dance

A few years ago, the Prague dance scene also experienced the mystique of
violence. At the time, a new marginal company, FKK – Freie Körper Kultur,
came up with the performance Tanz im Quadrat. In the raw milieu of an
alternative Prague club, they presented a summa of violence and nudity, driven
to mystical ecstasy.
They exposed naked bodies, first male, stripping off speedily, virtually invading
the stage with their collective nudity. And without any prelude, they presently
started up a motion repertoire of violent behaviour. As though propelled by an
aggressive overpressure, they ran against the walls surrounding the stage.
Without hesitation, toughly, going for broke, irrespective of the danger. Leaning
with his back against the wall, one of the boys took off his underpants in a flash,
while another ran against the wall above, took off and bounced away.
Besides nudity, another stylistic means was projection of figures on a grainy
back wall and its metal door, including an image of an undressing girl, giving a
hyper-realistic impression. This gave rise to the illusion that the girl was there in
the flesh, behind the door, behind the illuminated wall. And again, without an
unnecessary psychological pause, the young ruttish men plunged into fighting
for this projection, this illusion of, really large, naked breasts. They ran against
the image of the girl, so as to adhere to it with their bodies, fiercely battling for
their place on the wall, brutally pushing away their rivals, sticking to the wall.
A sequence of ritualised violence ensued. The naked young men repeatedly
jumped against one another, chest-bumping. And again with no mercy for
themselves or their opponents. The collisions ended up with the naked loser on
the ground. The falls were very real and dangerous. The audience clearly heard
the sound of the tumbles, as they did the sounds of skidding and, probably, burnt
skin. The falls were not beautiful. Yet what was beautiful was the entirety of the
performance, the alchemy of authenticity and sophisticated detail. Beautiful was
the structure, occasionally opened as a new opportunity, not yet made use of,
now and then crystallised, and beautiful too was the inosculation of authentic
bodies, with their hallucinogenic projections, more real than reality. – But what
is it that makes these violent movements ritual? The chest-bumpings are of a
largely symbolic nature. They are a symbolic test of masculinity. They are
absolutely useless as a practical combat technique. A robust chest is the pride of
men – something like the robust antlers of deer. An act of violence, the clashing
of chests means a symbolic enjoyment of masculinity, or dreaming of
masculinity. And the performers did not come to make a bow; merely a few
nicely arranged bouquets flew out from the auditorium and landed heavily on
the deserted floor of the stage. How arrogant and how astonishingly beautiful.
Tanz im Quadrat was a (half-) opened structure, changing from performance to
performance, yet both the statement and the poetics of the company were clearly
found and defined. Worth mentioning is that this poetics was also the youngest
theatre generation’s symptomatic look back in hindsight at the poetics of the
movement theatre of the 1980s.

(Lecture: Dance in the region between the vampire and
the werewolf)