The greening of VerTeDance

Ensemble created by two young dancers from Prague to debut in Israel this week.

VerTe Dance 370 (photo credit: Vojtech Brtnicky)
VerTe Dance 370
(photo credit: Vojtech Brtnicky)
When two young dancers from Prague, Veronica Kotlikova and Tereza Ondrova, created the name VerTeDance for their long-dreamed of ensemble in 2004, they were too busy seeking solutions for a lot of pragmatic problems to start looking for the definition of the word “verte” in various languages.
As it turned out, they had stumbled across a very appropriate term, as in French verte means “green, young, full of energy.”
“We found that out a few years later, when we started participating in international dance festivals,” says Ondrova. “But in 2004, we just put our two first names together and concentrated on a different issue: how to make our ensemble survive.”
In the post-communist Czech Republic, funds for arts were scarce, and it was extremely difficult to find sponsors to support a new dance group. The two women have been friends for more than 20 years, since childhood. Both received professional education in dancing, arts and pedagogy. And, bored with official dance groups, both dreamed about creating their own dance style.
The idea of a new ensemble arose from their long-standing friendship, which became their main source of inspiration.
“We didn’t have the money to invite more dancers as we had planned,” explains Ondrova from her home in Prague. “And we could not invite men – that was even more difficult. So finally we decided to establish just a duo by ourselves.”
Thus reality pushed them to look for a new direction for a women’s dance duet. In contrast to the traditional women’s duet that highlights gracefulness and fragility, Kotlikonva and Ondrova, both experienced in classical and modern dance, chose to present new, modern images.
Their women are strong, smart, powerful and energetic; they can withstand the cruel and aggressive world, yet remain tender and poetic and maintain a sense of humor.
The relationship the two women present on stage is more like mother and daughter than just friends. In their artistic process, they found a combination of dance and theater, even its special direction, physical theater.
“We started with really abstract images,” says Ondrova, “but gradually we moved to more realistic images and scenes from modern life. We are not a feminist theater, but ultimately we found ourselves being a social theater, which can present complicated modern reality on the stage.”
In their search for new modes of expression, they started thinking about self-expression in dance for physically challenged people. One of the pieces VerTeDance created included the participation of two women in wheelchairs.
“Once Veronica and I realized that we wanted to help those people find ways to express themselves in dance, we invited two women in wheelchairs to work with us. One had become disabled as a result of a serious spinal injury, and the other was born physically challenged. It was emotionally very difficult to enter their world, but we dared. Actually, we could see that dancing pushed the boundaries of their limitations.
Their performance on the stage was very successful,” says Ondrova.
VerTe’s home stage is the Ponec theater in Prague, but the company has presented its productions in the Czech Republic, as well as abroad.
They will be making their Israeli debut this week.
VerTeDance is the only Czech dance group to have received the country’s most prestigious award for contemporary dance twice – the Dance Piece of the Year prize. They won it in 2005 for The Silent Talk-Unpredictable Course and in 2012 for What Is the Weight of Your Desire? For their encounter with Israeli audiences, they will perform Found & Lost, a dance-theater duet created by Swedish choreographer and performer Charlotta Öfverholm.
VerTeDance will perform at the Clipa Theater in Tel Aviv on November 12, 13 and 14 at 8:30 p.m.