Dance world is full of various dance stories, from people who dance only for fun to those who seriously train and compete, from dance teachers to choreographers, from festival organizers to dance school owners. Stories diversify depending on the style someone dances and whether they prefer dancing in pairs or dancing by themselves. The dance has so many different shades and every dancer carries his dance story, which is not reflected solely in their dance, but also in their everyday life. But in the end, all dance stories share one great love, love for dance.
In the 15th interview of Dancer's Life Stories, we will get to know the story of Katja Vidmar - a dancer, choreographer and creator of many wonderful performances.
Katja, we would love to hear your dance story. When did you start to dance and on what path did dance take you?
I think dance was given to me at birth as my great-grandmother Meta Vidmar was the founder of modern dance in Slovenia. At the age of nine, while in elementary school, I started ballet and later went to audition in Ljubljana with the first jazz dance group. I joined the group Make up. We opened the Sunday TV show at Mario and were the backup dancers for various singers. Then my path developed into a solo career. I continued to train jazz ballet, modern and contemporary dance and taught dance to adults and children.
Three years ago, I founded the Katja Dance company with producer and partner Albert Podrekar. It all started when I created a dance story, a full-length performance, called The Woman, to help Safe Houses across Slovenia with donation from ticket sales. Our honorary sponsor was Mrs. Vlasta Nussdorfer (human rights ombudsman), whom we met when Albert and I were at my student's art exhibition. Mrs. Nussdorfer said to me: »Katja, I miss your performances, will you create anything new?« She encouraged us to create a new performance, Life is a value. We were thinking about the lyrics, the purpose, we wanted to create a show that could help someone. While creating it, we invited dancers from different dance schools we knew. They were of different ages and with different life stories, so we slowly began to create the charitable dance performance Life is a value, which is now being performed for the third year in a row in Slovenia and abroad. In the meantime, we created three more dance fairy tales and a full-length dance performance called Project X. Currently we are finishing a dance musical about the first nurse in Slovenia, so basically dance is part of our lives at all times.
How does your dance routine look like, how often do you dance, train?
Dance is my daily companion. Even when I'm not dancing, I create, listen to music, write cover text, make choreographies in my head or we are filming projections. Most of the projections you see in the shows are done during our own travel abroad or in Slovenia. Wherever we are, something inspires us and we shoot a part of the choreography, or we know exactly what we need to record in regards to the story. At home, we go through the recordings and Albert starts creating with all his photography skills, he adds music, we record text, and so the performances are created.
I dance every day, when I lived in Slovenia I danced after work for three hours per day and on weekends we had performances. In Brussels, I dance less, nevertheless I create in my small apartment, teach Slovenian at high school, create performances with my students and take on new classes to grow my dance knowledge.
As you live in Brussels; how would you compare the community in Brussels with Slovenian dance community?
Brussels is a multicultural city with different races, different people, different languages, different nations, different dancers. The main difference is that they really appreciate art. There are shows sold out six to eight months in advance, no matter if it is a painting exhibition, a dance performance, a concert or some other event. We try to attend all the dance performances, follow the dance scene and also visit the dance studios. Wherever we go, classes, performances and theaters are full and tickets are sold out. They appreciate art, every third exhibit is a gallery. They also have a well-developed comic book culture, not only the humorous kind, but also high literature as Dostojevski and Flaubert. They really like to read and appreciate the culture in general. The main difference is, that it is very difficult for us in Slovenia to fill the big halls. All of the artists are working hard and promoting themselves, so all that effort is transformed on the stage. Sometimes it's very sad when you come to a performance and see the hall is empty or half full. I have never experienced that in Brussels, also the classes are much fuller than here.
You had performance in Slovenia and abroad as well. Is the audience in Slovenia very different to elsewhere?
I don't know, if the audience is different, you can see everyone, from teens to the elderly. Slovenian audience is the same, there are some students as we work for them as well. Many schools have joined our project and commissions our performance for first or second and third-year students. In doing so, students receive good, instructive content, they are charitable, and at the same time it's considered as part of the cultural program that the school must organize. We have couples, working people with children, as well as the elderly, who like to see a cultural performance, knowing that they are also charitable and helpful.
You've been dancing since you were a kid. Certainly, during this time, there were some funny moments and also moving ones, that really touched you.
With the creators and everyone else involved in these performances, we are having the most fun at the performance rehearsal, or while creating it. There is always a funny chat in the dressing room, before the performance or on the way to the theater. Something happens, someone forgets something and things need to be adjusted... We are very entertained by one of our dancers, who is also known for his other dance projects. Tim always makes us laugh and comforts us, he is always ready for anything. They all bring the energy, since all the dancers in our performances really dance with all their soul and heart. They dedicate their free time to our projects, dance for free, and some are with us from the beginning. So, there are many funny moments, also when something happens on the stage. In the middle of the performance, we happen to see someone get it wrong and we start to laugh, but we cannot show it.
The most touching moment was last summer, when Anže, who is our inspiration and the central character of our performance, passed away. The boy was nine years old and the performance is about his chemotherapy treatment and his fight with cancer. It defeated him, though he was a fighter and tried his best to become a Little Knight, which is the institution that we donate our money to. They always received the envelope from Anže and Mrs. Vlasta Nussdorfer, who is the honorary sponsor of our dance performances. Now the envelope is given by his sister, who always reads a letter or a poem, she writes in his brother's memory. His family is extremely happy that we continue this performance, as we all have the feeling that he is still with us. It was one of the saddest moments for us. We were with him at the hospital at the end, while he was fighting for his life. I will not forget how difficult it was to watch someone so young, fighting with such energy and desire to win, and being patient more than many adults. Since we continue with this performance, we know, that we are doing it for him as well.
To be continued…
2nd part of the interview on the link.