Poets of the City (Vitka – Blatný – Jan)

I attended this intriguing-sounding dance theatre triple bill at Oxford House in Bethnal Green: with choreography by Martin Dvořák and Nir Ben Gal, and starring Martin Dvořák, Irene Bauer and Alena Pajasová, it was inspired by significant people from Czech cultural and political history.

The first piece, Vitka, was inspired by the Czech composer Vítězslava Kaprálová, who died in France aged 25. Her work, particularly her April Preludes for the piano, influenced the short work. The second work, Blatný, was inspired by Czech poet Ivan Blatný, who emigrated to England in 1948 and spent most of the rest of his life in psychiatric clinics. The final piece, Jan, was inspired by Jan Palach, the Czech student who immolated himself in protest against communism in Prague in 1969.

I was taken with the beauty of Vitka, but the robotic movements and repetitive structure of Jan left me cold. The middle piece, Blatný, was my favourite by far, reflecting the poet’s love of words and his inner turmoil. Altogether, a varied and unusual evening.

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