East European Performing Arts Platform (EEPAP) supports the
development of contemporary performing arts (dance and theatre)
in 18 countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

What can be seen in a mirror?

Zdjęcie użytkownika In Between Festivals.

photo: Ola Osowicz, Wrocław 7.12.2016 via In Between Festivals


Peter Player is one of the most important people who have contributed to the development of dance in Poland. As a dancer, choreographer and, primarily, a teacher, he has influenced many young artists and their perceptions of dance. It has inspired him to create "Moving the mirror," a performance in which he focuses on the Polish dance scene both from the Polish and German perspective.

He chose people he had already cooperated with to work with him on the performance - for example, as a dramaturge he had helped Maria Stokłosa and Aleksandra Borys in their work.  They were joined on stage by Anna Nowicka, Paweł Sakowicz, Caroline Alexander, Oliver Connew, Ivan Ekemark and Peter Player himself.

The diagnosis of dance was presented in two languages: that of movement and of words. The artists showed the books they read during rehearsals, quoted excerpts from them, talked about their experiences. Contemporary dance has only been present in Poland since 1989, it came with democracy and had to fight for its modest position in the shadow of the omnipresent ballet.

In the mid 90s, when Player started visiting Poland, the decision-makers in dance were mostly men, while today the main positions are primarily occupied by women. Political changes, such as joining the European Union, gave young artists a chance to study and work abroad. In dance, in which the creators are constantly in movement, in every sense of the word, it is quite obvious that art has no boundaries. Consequently, a question arises: can a dancer who was born in Warsaw but studies and works abroad be called a “Polish dancer?” In the performance she is given the title of a “dance diplomat.” Quite brilliantly.

We are also presented with a diagnosis of the position of dance in Poland today. And it is here that the main problem emerges, a notion that has not changed for 27 years - namely that dance as a discipline is not independent and  is usually perceived through the prism of theater. Both because it is usually presented in theaters and because of critics who, like the author of this text, come from the field of theater. How does it work in practice? When we see a dancing duo in which he raises her, she jumps down and moves her left leg to the side, and write a review, instead of describing this sequence of movements step by step we write that we had seen a love scene.

However, would an attempt to translate movement directly into words prove actually interesting for readers and viewers? I doubt it. The following scene can serve as an example: a group of artists, two naked performers among them, improvises while occupying one segment of the stage, the mood is quite mysterious. Then, slowly, majestically, another person enters the stage, carrying a large, simple branch of a birch tree, which he holds with both hands at an angle of 45 degrees. Should we end the description of the scene here if we wish to avoid a theatrical perspective? In my opinion, it would be too dry an image, easily forgotten by the reader and, thus, an uninteresting one. Therefore, I would add that the moment changes the mood of the scene into a tragicomic one, because the new hero looks as if he is entering an official school assembly with a banner, and the birch wood, which has unavoidable connotations with the Smolensk catastrophe, the tragedy of which has been overshadowed today by populist political games, adds a sense of pathos to the scene.

The mirror displayed before us by Peter Player shows that much has happened and is still happening in the field of Polish dance. However, it seems that as much remains to be done - by those who write and those who create - for dance to become an autonomous and rich form of art.


“Moving the mirror,” artistic direction and choreography: Peter Pleyer, dance: Caroline Alexander, Aleksanda Borys, Oliver Connew, Ivan Ekemark, Anna Nowicka, Paweł Sakowicz, Maria Stokłosa.

Artistic director: Michiel Keuper. Curators: Joanna Leśnierowska (ASF), Agnieszka Sosnowska (CSW). Production: Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Art Stations Foundation by Grazyna Kulczyk / Old Brewery New Dance.