Bazaar Festival: TRANSFORMABILITY / Willy Prager

An antimusical for an era with no points of reference.
performance length: 45 min
no language barrier

Bulgarian dancer and artist Willy Prager has created an anti-musical for an era with no fixed point of reference. Flexibility and dynamism are the ideologies of today, and there no escaping them. Everything is changing – you, me, the actors, the audience, and the space we are in. Three dancers and performers turn the theoretical writings of Bulgarian philosopher and cultural theorist Boyan Manchev into a very specific kind of danced antimusical.

Performance is a part of 2017 Bazaar Festival.

Transformability uses the strategies of the entertainment industry to explore the ways in which we present ourselves within the “theater of society.” How fine is the line between vulnerable existence and fearless self-presentation? As adapted for the stage by Willy Prager and his charismatic team of artists, Manchev’s text becomes a dance manifesto of foolishness. Together, they take total flexibility and the dynamics of the young ensemble to extremes that, off-stage, would be devastating.

“Fluidity, crossing boundaries, and all kinds of instability have become the norm. (…) We should not understand the ability to metamorphose and to adapt as simple consonance or as unlimited permeability dictated by the rapid pace of today’s markets. Transformability, the ability to change, is more a sign of permanent resistance, a resilience that grows out of experience.”
Boyan Manchev, Transformability (The Body – Metamorphosis)

Of course, the questions raised by Prager’s performance relate not just to the ideology of flexibility in contemporary society. He also asks how a text such as Manchev’s essay Transformability – originally intended for educated elites – can become a mainstream message for the average consumer. Is it even possible to “dance” a philosophical text? And more generally: how to build bridges between dance and theory using the rules of mainstream culture?

“In an accurate way, the performance draws back upon the text and creates the possibility of a further reading of it. In fact, the two creations (the text and the performance) are in the position of a steady exchange of meanings. (...) This resistance which is the very principle of Willy Prager's performance creates a form of an opening towards the possibility of freedom through the means specific to contemporary dance.”
Gina Serbanescu,

“Transformability searches for mutual permeation between philosophy and dance and finds it in essay by the philosopher Boyan Manchev. The performance becomes allegory of the continues pressure of the society to perform and in the same time it constituting a space where the roles could be left behind.”
Jasmina Založnik,

Concept/direction: Willy Prager (in collaboration with Sonja Pregrad, Tian Rotteveel)
Music: Tian Rotteveel
Performers: Sonja Pregrad, Iva Sveshtarova, Willy Prager
Premiére: Jan 13th 2012, SophienSÆLE Berlin
Supported by / Thanks: Tanztage Berlin / Sophiensaele (co-production), HTZ Berlin, Bojan Mančev, Bulgarian Cultural Institute in Prague

Independent dance artist and cultural organizer Willy Prager is a graduate of the 4XC Theater Studio in Sofia and holds a degree in synthetic stage arts from the University of Plovdiv. In 2013, Prager finished the Solo/Dance/Authorship program at Berlin’s University of the Arts. A recipients of grants from Dance Web Europe and Theater Treffen Berlin, he has worked with directors and choreographers such as Galina Borissova, Nikolai Georgiev, David Zambrano, Ivo Dimchev, deufert&plischke, Xavier le Roy, Thomas Lehmen, Dalija Acin, Matej Kejzar, and Maren Strack. Past performances include Prager Strasse, Game-a-porter, Transformability, Egyptian Spring, and Victory Day. Willy Prager is a cofounder of the Brain Store Project Foundation in Sofia. Many of his productions have been collaborative efforts, in particular with Iva Sveshtarova, with whom he worked on Watch Your back, Cliché, Dona Clara, Migratory Restlessness (with Maren Strack), 359 Topology (with deufert&plischke), Hygiene Museum, Egyptian Spring, and Our Last Pas-de-Deux. Prager previously worked with Sonja Pregrad on FOR THE FUTURE / A Dance in 2043, A Dance in 2044, and Balkan Dance Reality Show (with Beermann and Sveshtarova). He is a co-founder of the Nomad Dance Academy (2005) and the Antistatic Festival for Contemporary Dance and Performance in Sofia (2007).

Sonja Pregrad is a dance artist and performer. She has received an MA in Solo/Dance/Authorhsip at HZT/UdK Berlin and has studied at SNDO Amsterdam and ArtEZ in Arnhem, as well as through numerous other workshops and scholarships. Her recent works include Carnival tent rusts in the evening breeze (theatre version – Uferstudios 2012, gallery version GMK Zagreb 2015), Value is a dynamic surplus of any action with Marjana Krajač (invited to Croatian Theatre Showcase and OFF Europa festival Leipzig), Rearranging (and) the self-arranged with Nives Sertić (Alfred ve dvoře Prague, Kondenz festival Beograd, Platforma Zagreb) and an ongoing collaboration with Willy Prager. The project Transformability has been performed at Tanztage and Tanznacht in Berlin, in Weimar, Leipzig, Sofia, Bucharest, Zagreb, Sarajevo and Skopje. SEQUEL FOR THE FUTURE / a dance in 2043 / a dance in 2044, created with the support of Berlin Senate, had its premiere in Uferstudios in 2014, and has since been invited to festivals in Sofia, Čakovec, Leipzig, Mannheim, Belgrade and Zagreb. The newest project Balkan Dance Reality Show, in collaboration with Rose Beerman and Iva Sveshtarova, is created as a co-production with fabrik Potsdam, Theatre Nimes and Long Life Burning network and will have a premiere in Zagreb in November 2015. Since 2007 she is co-founder and organizer of Improspekcije, a festival for improvisation und performing art in Zagreb. She teaches at the university for fine art in Zagreb and in the context of SMASH Berlin. Since 2010 she is co-creating an international interactive dance publication/project TASK with TALA Dance Centre Zagreb/Tanzfabrik Berlin/Stanica Belgrade/NDA Slovenia. In Berlin she collaborates with artists such as Lea Martini, Isabelle Schad, Juli Reinartz, Siegmar Zacharias, Shahryar Nashat, Alexandre Achour, Hana Erdman etc, creating projects that connect Berlin and Zagreb dance scenes.

Iva Sveshtarova is an artist and performer born in Sofia, Bulgaria. She recently earned her MA in choreography and performance from the Institute for Applied Theatre Studies in Giessen, Germany. From 2002 to 2006, she worked as a performer at Acto – Instituto de Arte Dramatica in Estarreja, Portugal. In 2006, she was granted a scholarship for DanceWeb. In 2007 she joined the Sofia based formation Бbrain Сstore Пproject. Her main interests and activities are in the field of contemporary dance and theatre. She has worked with directors and choreographers such as Nikolay Georgiev, Galina Borissova, deufert&plischke, Maren Strack, Verena Bilinger and Sebastian Schulz. Past works include Doing That Thing Again, Museum of Hygiene, Velocity Pumps, Cliché, Donna Clara, Mirror Phase, Transformation, and Transfer, a site-specific performance for Paralelo 40 in Fatela, Portugal. Sveshtarova is a co-founder of the Nomad Dance Academy and of the Antistatic Festival for Contemporary Dance and Performance in Sofia.

For the young composer Tian Rotteveel (NL), sound is a process that can materialize into music and language but can also be just be sensation. Since sound is constantly moving between perceiving and listening, it produces movement and intrudes where it can, launching various processes. Tian’s practice thus goes beyond the realm of music to encompass performance art. Besides his work as composer, he is currently studying choreography at Berlin’s University of the Arts, where he is committed to merging sound and movement into one single artistic practice. Tian also writes electro-acoustic works and performs extended vocal techniques, electronics and movement. Since completing his study of music composition at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague and the Hogeschool voor de kunsten in Utrecht (2002–2007), he has written works on commission for various ensemble including MAE-¬Ensemble and the Rosa-¬Ensemble, and has collaborated with choreographers such as David Hernandez, Dansgroep Amsterdam / Michael Schumacher, Liat Waysbort, Chris Leuenberg, and Diego Gil/Igor Dobricic. Next month, he will be premiere a new production in Berlin with Anja Muller, Lea Martinin, and Dennis Deter.