Zagreb, 1981. The so-called New Wave can be felt in the air, liberal ideas stream more freely and the entire city is in frenzy because of the lyrics of Srđan Sacher’s song ‘My First Love’. The video for the song by the rock band Haustor shows young dancers, members of the Studio – Contemporary Dance Company with the longest tradition in Croatia, dancing light-heartedly towards a summer day. Bosiljka Vujović, a young member of the dance company, is one of them.
Zagreb, 2017. Decaying facades in the city centre portray the defeat of ideas aspiring to a better and more civilized society. In the shadow of another local and national elections, the independent art scene, dwelling on the margins of social impact, takes another blow to go to rack and ruin. In the meanwhile, Bosiljka Vujović-Mažuran has become the director of the Studio- Contemporary Dance Company. Some other girls in summer dresses are now walking through the streets of Zagreb.
The verse taken from a song by a well-known band named Haustor from the golden 1980s inspired the new project by Petra Hrašćanec and Saša Božić that deals with an investigation of historical heritage, memory practices and stage reconstruction of dance biographies in the context of the dance scene in Zagreb and Croatia.
The selected topic comprises the biography of the current director of the Studio - Bosiljka Vujović-Mažuran – whose dance career over the past four decades has left an important mark on the Croatian dance scene. However, the dancer’s intimate biography is only a trigger for the analysis of the situation with the Croatian dance today, of the cultural policy model that confines dance and dance artists to mere survival and everlasting waiting for the establishment of professional conditions and opportunities for dance to happen as such.
The performance is constructed as a meditation on continuation in dance but also as an exploration of dance dispositions and the development of dance in the course of the past 30 years. Where does dance live: on stage, in a gallery, in video art, TV shows, abandoned factories and in which formats is dance perceived by a spectator: mostly as an ornament and not as a propulsive contemporary medium.
Seven dancers perform various choreographies raising the same question: to whom is dance communicated, how is dance practised and for who is it created? At the same time, audio recordings discussing Bosiljka Vujović- Mažuran’s career are also presented to tackle not only the fact of her career but also to fantasize about possible potentials for further development of dance in Zagreb and Croatia.
Petra Hrašćanec and Saša Božić have been active on the Croatian and European dance and theatre scene for a number of years in various formats and production environments. Their collaborations always insist on the procedural nature of artwork, invention of stage discourses and playing with various performance dispositions.
In the field of performing arts, Petra Hrašćanec is active as a dancer, choreographer and pedagogue. The main point of her interest and education is contemporary dance whereas her works are characterised by a specific use of a host of different media to investigate the body and corporeality.
Hrašćanec is also an active external member of Francesco Scavetta's WEE COMPANY based in Norway. As a choreographer, Petra Hrašćanec creates either as a member of the artistic organization 21:21 (as one of the art directors) or in collaboration with the partnership organisation de_facto and a host of Croatian institutions (&TD Theatre, The Zagreb Youth Theatre, Pogon Jedinstvo, The Zagreb Dance Centre). Since 2013, Hrašćanec is a lecturer and a mentor leading the programme for contemporary dance technique at the Dance Department of the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb, Croatia.
Saša Božić is active in various artistic fields ranging from theatre directing, choreography and creation of dramatic text to organization of promotional cultural actions and strategic planning of culture projects. As a dramaturge, Božić collaborates with renowned choreographers and dancers in Croatia and abroad. Along with a host collaborative projects, Saša Božić accomplished a number of independent dramatic, dance and multimedia projects that are currently part of the repertoire of the main Croatian theatre institutions. Also, Božić successfully and regularly presents his projects in European theatre institutions, i.e. Hebbel am Ufer in Berlin, Gesneralee in Zurich, National Dance Centre in Oslo, Bitef in Belgrade, MESS in Sarajevo, Zuricher Theater spektakel in Zurich, Karantena in Dubrovnik, Rencontres Choreographiques Internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis in Paris and so on. He also works as an assistant professor at the Acting Department of the Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb.
Studio - Contemporary Dance Company was founded in 1962/63 in Zagreb under the artistic direction of Ana and Vera Maletić, as the first contemporary dance company in Croatia and the region.
Art directors Ana and Vera Maletić (from 1962), Tihana Škrinjarić (from 1968), Zaga Živković (from 1979) and Bosiljka Vujović-Mažuran (from 1997) successfully produced a great number of productions, co-productions and art collaborations with artists coming from different art practices; they changed and formed the company, they motivated dancers to seek more education and knowledge based on the tradition of innovations in the contemporary dance art.
In the course of more than fifty years of uninterrupted activity on the Croatian and international scene, the Studio produced a great number of dance projects and formed many generations of exceptional dance performers, teachers and choreographers. New forms of cooperation on various projects and co-productions resulted in our readiness to engage with new challenges. In its collaboration with artists from the other fields of art, Studio-Contemporary Dance Company is always open for the unpredictable and fresh art explorations. The Studio has also won many prizes where some of the most prominent ones were awarded by the Croatian Actors’ Association and the 2012 UPUH professional award marking fifty years of its existence.
Choreography: Petra Hrašćanec
Dramaturgy: Saša Božić
In collaboration with dancers: Filipa Bavčević, Koraljka Begović, Dina Ekštajn, Ida Jolić, Martina Tomić, Nastasja Štefanić, Ana Vnučec
Stage and Costume Design: Ana Savić-Gecan
Music: Alen and Nenad Sinkauz
Audio Performance: Bosiljka Vujović-Mažuran
Light Design: Aleksandar Čavlek
Video: Anton Modrušan
Poster and Booklet Design: Ana Savić-Gecan, S-TISAK
Public Relations: Andrea Remetin
Photography: Ivica Ivčević
Video Promo: Sara Moritz
Assistant to the Choreographer: Ana Mrak
Assistant to the Costume Designer: Mirjam Krajina
Translation: Mirna Herman Baletić
Production: Studio – Contemporary Dance Company and HIPP-Tsp
Producer: Branko Banković
Art Director: Bosiljka Vujović-Mažuran
Première: 27 May 2017 in the framework of the Contemporary Dance Week.
This project has been funded by the Zagreb City Office of Education, Culture and Sports and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia.
Special thanks to Miodrag Gladović, Mirna Herman Baletić, Ivana Gulin, Zoran Stojaković, Darko Rundek, Srđan Sacher, ZKM Theatre