Slavic romance at The Space at D & A

D & A College students in final rehearsals for the Independent Dance Project.
D & A College students in final rehearsals for the Independent Dance Project.

An international cast of dancers is bringing a taste of Slavic romance to Scotland when the Independent Dance Project is staged at The Space at D&A College.

The production comprises 16 pieces, each created by a student on the BA degree programme and danced by their classmates and their colleagues on the HND course.

Each of the degree students has had to create a piece between 10 and 15 minutes long.

One of the highlights of this programme is by Alicja Brzezicka, of Poland, who is aiming to display some of her country’s romantic heritage to the audience – in just 14 minutes.

Alicja’s piece is inspired by Kupala Night, a Slavic celebration of the summer solstice which sees young people gathering at beauty spots to sing and dance and – if they are lucky – taste romance, as the girls make floral wreaths and float them in rivers and lakes, hoping the boy of their dreams will find and return them to their owners.

“Because so many people come together for Kupala Night I needed to have as many dancers as possible to show off this beautiful piece of Polish heritage,” explained the choreographer.

“So I managed to recruit five girls and three boys in my piece.”

Alicja and her eight dancers represent a total of six countries including her native Poland, Lithuania, Sweden, Ireland, England and, of course, Scotland.

The piece starts off softly, using bird-song as a soundtrack and one dancer, a young girl with a wreath, singing as she looks for love.

Then momentum builds up showing off the games, singing and dancing of Kupala Night with students taking part in Polish and Russian-inspired dances against a backdrop of Slavic folk music – including the famous snowberry song, ‘Kalinka’.

The piece ends on a slower, more romantic, note with a duet finding love as a girl’s dream comes true when her wreath is returned by her sweetheart.

Alicja herself believes her dream has come true having been accepted as a contemporary dance student at The Space.

“I have been in Dundee for nine years now,” said the 27-year-old.

“I came to work and didn’t realise that there was such an excellent facility for dance in the city.

“My dream was to be a dancer but coming from a small village in western Poland I only managed to take a few classes and realised I could never develop far enough with only one hour each week.

“It was such a delight to find out about The Space and to be accepted as a full-time student.”

Also choreographing an ensemble piece is Michaela Wate, from Newcastle.

Michaela has also drawn on her heritage to inform her work – coming from mining country her piece, entitled ‘Amba’, is perhaps a little less pastoral than Kupala Night.

The 22-year-old chose to map the history of people’s lives and her piece, performed by seven dance students, incorporates folk singing and musical instruments.

“I’ve also incorporated the use of props and by using them the dancers engage in movements which mimic traditional mining dances,” said the student.

Michaela’s piece also uses recorded music by American string quartet and Grammy award-winners Kronos Quartet.

Independent Dance Project takes place at The Space at Kingsway Campus on Thursday and Friday, March 13 and 14. Curtain up at 7.30 p.m. with the bar open from 7 p.m. Tickets are free available half an hour before the performance.