The artist Andy Warhol has plenty of fans in Slovkia. His parents were migrants to the United States from Mikova in the east of the country. But outside of Slovkia few are aware of his family roots. Now ballet director Mario Radacovsky is promoting Slovak cultural heritage and that means a role for Warhol.
Mario Radacovsky Radacovsky: "Everybody knows who was Wharhol and (huh) not so many people know he had Slovakian background. And, of course, he was born in the United States. I mean that's the one of the best artist what this country -even if we not necessarily- but these genes produced. Most known Slovakian in a sense, even if he was American... And, we don't take care of it."
Mario Radacovsky is taking care of Slovak culture. He became the ballet director of the Slovak National Theater or the Slovenske Narodne Divadlo last fall. He is creating his first major choreography based on the life of Andy Warhol- the father of Pop Art. The show simply titled, Warhol, will be an explosion of colours.
"This is the second act and this is I call this section Lenin. We use those tables on the stage. He is like -you know- on this - speech boxes. Lenin is like three metres by five metres - is behind him, and then also a certain Mao and all those communistic leaders. I'm going back because in the world when he was living, which was a free world and still so to speak speak is a free world. Here in Czechoslovakia, or in Slovakia or whatever it was, communism- the dominance of the one colour and (hm) one opinion. And he is a dictator in the beginning, but he's wearing the suit of Superman. Craziness! Like complete craziness that you will see."
Andy Warhol The sets are designed by Cirque du Soleil architect Richard Dulude... oh and don't forget the dancing paparazzi taking photos of the public.
"The audience they will be like: 'what's happening?' you know. Normal show is: I come, I clap and I go. No no no. Even if they will come by the way out, they will still irritate them certain way, or please them, or photograph them, or interview them, or asking them for their opinions."
"When is the show opening? The premiere is twenty of April 2007- one week after the opening of our new, brand new, theatre. So -ha!- no pressure."
Mario Radacovsky left the Slovak National Theatre 15 years ago, and began a successful international career. He performed around the world with the Netherlands Dans Theatre, and later on, with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens of Montreal. How does he feel about his shift from dancing to directing?
"To be honest with you, I never thought like I would do this- never, ever. If five years ago, somebody asked me, I was like ... pf! Never. I was so afraid to be one of the bad ones, but maybe I am. I don't know."
Slovakia produces many great dancers, but many of them leave the country for more lucrative or creative opportunities. The Slovak ballet company performs the great classics like Swan Lake or the Nutckracker, but rarely ventures in the unknown territories of modern dancing. Perhaps it has to do with the nation's outlook? Why fix it, if it ain't broken? For the ballet director, however, that means stagnation. He wants to push the national ballet company to higher levels.
"How much we Slovakians, why we are not more maybe sensitive to what, who came from here, or who has connection to this. I think it's a pity 'cause it's part of our heritage. 'Cause we are such a little country you know who is going to what we have to say. Ha ha ha ha. We are not sensitive enough for those things. But maybe, later on, we will grow into it. We are little babies now. Baby nations."
The baby nation might take some first steps towards its own cultural identity with Radacovsky's new choreography. Warhol will premiere on the 20th of April 2007 at the new Slovak National Theatre.
Author: Kerry Skyring, the 26 January 2007