INTERVIEW WITH ROMAN PAWŁOWSKI, theatre critic, reviewer for Gazeta Wyborcza
Dance Factory: During the Conference you teach dance criticism workshops sharing your knowledge of how to write about theatre and dance. How often did you teach such classes and what would you like to pass on to your students?
Roman Pawłowski: I have run dance criticism workshops in Bytom for the third or the fourth time and I do it with a great satisfaction - I have the chance to pass on not only my knowledge and experience of a dozen or so years of work as a critic, but I can also learn from the students. Mainly I would like to share my passion/love of theatre and dance. At the same time I want to teach how to keep a distance which is indispensable in every passionate feeling/emotion. So this distance, independence and criticism are immensely important for a dance critic.
D.F.: Considering your experience at the conference, are you happy with the students` results in your classes?
R.P.: Unfortunately, one week is not enough to prepare a group of people who want to start working in media. We can only talk about attempts at doing that. But I think from class to class the texts we analyze are richer, more precise and better written. But certainly I cannot say that a new, good dance critic showed up. Unfortunately I have not met one yet, this is a goal to achieve in the future.
D.F.: How long since have you been writing about theatre? Reviewing dance came later, was it a result of being interested in theatre?
R.P.: Actually I have been in the theatre field for 20 years. In the mid 80`s I started theatre studies at the Jagiellonian University. At the same time I participated actively in theatre life of Cracow, for instance at the Reminiscencje – the alternative theatre festival including movement/dance theatre. Thanks to that I shaped my views on art. It is true that most of my reviews are about dramatic theatre. Dance came to my attention approximately in the mid 90`s. It was because I met with Jacek Łumiński. Silesien Dance Theatre has just started as a professional group, as had the Conference. I was reviewing some of the few festivals, that is how I became familiar with dance. Jacek Łumiński has introduced the whole group of critics to dance. The other catalysts were the European festivals like Edinburgh or Avignon, where dance was always an important part of the programme. This is where I first saw the performances of Pina Bausch, Bill T. Jones, Netherlands Dance Theatre and the reconstructed works of Martha Graham. All of this was extremely inspiring because movement in Polish dramatic theatre is not as present as it should be. That made me realize how important the choreography and the movement are in theatre in general, not only in the dance.
D.F.: Do you have any wishes concerning Polish theatre and dance critics?
R.P.: I have a good opinion about Polish criticism. It has strong roots in literature on the contrary to for instance American critics. It brings a wider perspective not only to a particular sort of art, but also to culture, society and reality. This is how I see my work. Speaking about dance I would like to know at least one dance critic who would be recognized to wider group of readers. Without that the dance will not develop.
D.F.: What do you think about SDT, the Conference and Jacek Łumiński`s choreography?
R.P.: I have not seen the latest works of Jacek, so it is hard to say how his style is developing, but certainly he is an exceptional artist in Poland, not only in the dance field, but for culture in general. Instead of using American and European patterns he is searching for his own dance vocabulary, trying to bring into his dance an original, Polish character. He is using folklore or an earlier Chasidic tradition. Nowadays he is creating a School of Performing Arts in Bytom which is based on the experience of Polish alternative theatre like Grotowski and Gardzienice. I think it is an excellent idea to bring together worldwide contemporary dance with the local, Polish form which is an exploratory laboratory theatre. Speaking about the Conference I think it is an action planned for many years, but I see now that the atmosphere around dance has changed a lot, at least here in Bytom. A new public showed up that comes to see performances. It is extremely important that the dancers do not perform for themselves, but they speak to somebody else. I see the future in that – in the creation of an audience and interest around dance. It is great that there is a man who is dedicated to that.
D.F.: Thank you for the conversation.
R.P.: I would like to add one more thought, which is always present in my mind when I arrive in Bytom. Why is investing in contemporary dance so important? I think it is one of the most democratic forms of culture. In a sense that truly it is not necessary to have big funds to create a dance performance. On the other hand a human being, his body and expression is in the center of attention, which helps to understand each other above cultural and national differences. It eliminates the barriers which words/language creates. Dance is an ideal medium when we try to build a dialogue in the world.