The Department of Dance was founded as part of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague on 24 October 1945 by Decree of President Edvard Beneš 127/1945 Coll. Its founder was Professor Jan Reimoser, an important dance theoretician and critic. The first students entered the studio in 1949. Up until 1960, the Department of Dance belonged under the Theatre Faculty, then it became part of the Music Faculty, which in 2010 was renamed the Music and Dance Faculty. The field of mime choreography was created under the Department of Dance, forming the basis for today's Department of Mime at HAMU.
The department originally provided a four-year education in the fields of dance pedagogy, choreography and dance theory, and briefly also in the field of dance interpretation. Starting in 1993 it switched to a three-level system of instruction comprising a bachelor's (3 years), follow-up master's (2 years) and doctoral (3 years) level of study. In the years 1968–1993, it was possible to study a five-semester course intended primarily for teachers of dance at art schools, which were followed by similar lifelong learning programmes.
Significant figures have stood at the head of the Department of Dance, such as Jan Reimoser, Božena Brodská, Astrid Štúrová, Vladimír Vašut, Ivanka Kubicová and Helena Kazárová. The department is currently headed by Václav Janeček.
Honorary doctorates have been awarded at the AMU Music and Dance Faculty to: Jiří Kylián, important Czech choreographer, founder of the Kylián Dance Centre and Video Library (15 December 2000) and His Majesty Norodom Sihamoni, the King of Cambodia, graduate of the field of Dance Pedagogy at the Department of Dance (19 March 2010).
The field of dance pedagogy has existed at the Department of Dance since its founding and has the greatest number of students from all fields. The goal of studies is to produce dance teachers for various levels of dance education, focusing on developing methodological thinking and comprehensive deliberation about movement, consolidation of pedagogical skills, development of own creativity, movement research and analysis, formation of an individual teaching style.
As part of instruction the student receives not only theoretical information, but also professional methodological and didactic knowledge, testing and consolidating their skills through practical exercises and teaching practice. The curriculum also includes subjects dealing with kinesiology, dance medicine and the dance education of children.
Important teachers from the field:
Ivanka Kubicová, František Bonuš, Olga Pásková, Věra Ždichyncová, Markéta Záděrová-Kytýřová
Other activities in the field of dance pedagogy:
Teaching practice of students at dance conservatories, arts schools and dance studios. Acquisition of interpretational practice at dance performances.
Workshops with important teachers:
Yannick Boquin (FR, classical dance), Jean Lucie Massot (FR, classical dance), Daria Klimentová (CZ/UK, classical dance), Rasmus Olme (SW, contemporary dance), Jozef Fruček and Linda Kapetanea (G, contemporary dance), Wendy Houston (USA, contemporary dance), etc.
Conferences and projects:
Participation at the International and Interdepartmental Conference Moving Self In Psychotherapy, October 2015, Project V4 Young Dance Talents (supported by the Visegrad Fund; an intensive workshop focused on educating young graduates of dance schools with the goal of improving their integration into the European dance scene), September 2016.
Classical Dance Pedagogy
The instruction of classical dance didactics and techniques draws on the methodology of Aggripina Y. Vaganova, being understood as a constantly evolving system offering an invaluable basis for further creative innovation. The purpose of exercising and analysing individual elements is to get to know, fix and develop teaching approaches in accordance with the ability to create a pleasant creative and communicative atmosphere. Studies deepen the professional understanding of the structure of a ballet lesson, the ability to logically classify and combine elements of classical dance techniques into a series of sophisticated ties making use of a detailed knowledge of an extensive range of the movement "vocabulary".
Modern Dance Pedagogy
When specialising in modern dance, the student learns to work pedagogically with two comprehensive methods of instruction: the technique of Martha Graham and the technique of Doris Humphrey and José Limón. The goal is to understand the principle laws of modern dance, its connection with contemporary dance techniques and the obtaining the precise knowledge necessary for teaching in the field.
Contemporary Dance Pedagogy
The term contemporary dance indicates various pedagogical approaches tied to the individual teacher, and its movement vocabulary is not a stable codified system. Teaching the methodology of contemporary dance is therefore based primarily on a detailed breakdown of the movement principles and training methods that emphasise natural movement expression and efficient function of the body in motion. It is based on the practical utilisation of physical laws and kinesiology that lead to developing knowledge and awareness of the motional possibilities of the human body with regard to the anatomical context. It works with improvisation, movement games and touch techniques.
Folk Dance Pedagogy
Study of Folk Dance Pedagogy focuses primarily on the folk dance culture of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia, supplemented by the folk dance of other cultures (Russia, Hungary, Spain), and the use thereof in dance training and education and in creation (developing dance skills in couples and groups, understanding the specifics of a dance style, varying age spectrum of dancers). It draws on existing historical sources, getting to know ethnographic areas in terms of the occurrence of dances and a specific style.
The field of choreography focuses on developing the creative skills and abilities of students via practical tasks and theoretical reflection on dance compositions and their principles.
Over the course of the bachelor's programme, attention is focused primarily on refining choreographic skills such as working with space, time and dynamic, relationship to music and fine arts, action and abstraction, ability to work with individuals and a group of performers, etc.
During the follow-up master's programme, students are familiarised with larger scale choreographic forms, with emphasis being placed in part on interdepartmental collaboration, such as for example the creation and understanding of dance film, site-specific projects, or movement theatre.
In doctoral studies of the field of Choreography, creative choreographic activity is tied in with theoretical reflections of various aspects of choreography.
Important teachers from the field:
Jiří Němeček, Pavel Šmok, Jiřina Mlíkovská
Other activities under the field of choreography:
Ever year, students of choreography prepare a performance of their choreographies at Prague theatres (Ponec, DISK, Studio ALTA), but they also tend to be part of the repertoires of various theatre ensembles as well. They also take part in other artistic projects, in particular New Generation.
Workshops with important teachers:
Lenka Flory (IT/CZ, Analytical Approach in Contemporary Dance), Lizzy Le Quesne (UK, Choreographic Research), Julyen Hamilton (USA, The Space Issue), Ivan Wolf (Movement Research), etc.
The New Generation project gives students of the Department of Dance and the Department of Nonverbal Theatre an opportunity to reprise their original projects at the theatres DISK, Ponec and Studio ALTA. The original impulse for founding it came from the department head Ivanka Kubicová, thanks to whom the first performance took place in 2007. Currently the project is organised by Bohumíra Eliášová, a teacher in the field of choreography. New Generation entices young creators to collaborate interdepartmentally and allows students direct contact with theatre. New Generation evenings thus present not only primarily movement choreographies, but also experiments in the phase of work-in-progress, dance films, or scenographically innovative movement works. New Generation is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and Prague City Hall. Since 2011 a New Generation festival has also been being organised, with the goal of presenting the boldest choreography of not just Czech but also international students (Poland, Slovakia, Spain).
The field of Dance Theory was founded as the theory of dance when the school was founded in 1946, and is one of the oldest specialisations focused on the theoretical reflection of dance in the world. In its current concept, the field of dance theory deals with dance issues in a broad chronological, geographical and conceptual perspective, studying dance in all its forms from historical and theoretical perspectives. During their studies, students are involved in research activities and in the practical goings-on in the field.
Important teachers in the field:
Jan Reimoser, Božena Brodská, Vladimír Vašut
At the bachelor's level, studies focus on creating an overview of the history of dance in the European/Western sphere and in the Czech lands from antiquity to the present, acquiring basic knowledge from dance theory disciplines (theory of dance, analysis of dance) and on becoming familiar with the field and its methods (Introduction to Dance Theory and dance theory seminars).
At the follow-up master's level, dance theory knowledge is expanded to include the aesthetics of dance, dance anthropology and dance sociology, expanding the methodological viewpoints and experience with applying them in one's own research. Students are engaged in applied disciplines such as dance criticism, dance management and art direction.
Doctoral studies seek to produce an academic work (dissertation) on a relevant topic that has not yet been addressed.
Other activities in the field of dance theory:
Collaboration among students in preparing, organising and promoting performances from students of the field of choreography
Collaboration on research projects and academic publication. Participation in conferences organised by the Institute for Dance Theory and other institutions and companies
Conferences and public programmes:
Conference of Association of European Dance Historians (participation), 2016
Symposium "Late Time of Czech Expressive Dance – figures, paths of change after 1939", 2016
Cycle Footprints in the Sand – figures of Czech dance and mime (interviews, recollections), e.g. Alena Skálová, December 2016
The institute was founded as a centre for dance research in 1998. It is made up of teachers from the field of dance theory and students and collaborators taking part in research projects. The institute organises conferences, issues publications, and collaborates with foreign research organisations (Study Group on Ethnochoreology at the International Council for Traditional Music, European Association of Dance Historians).
The Hartig Ensemble – Three Centuries of Dances and Ballets has been operating at the Department of Dance since 1997. Students of all dance fields can become members, as can those of the department of mime for certain productions. They thereby deepened their knowledge and skills in the field of historical dance techniques and repertoire and when performing in various types of performances (e.g. Baroque opera, ballet-mime of the 18th century, etc.) they acquire important stage experience.
The Kylián Dance Centre and Library in Prague works in cooperation with the department. It is the successor of the Kylián Foundation and later the Kylián Video Library, which the famous Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián founded in Prague in 1991. Up until 2012 it was housed on the premises of the Institute of Art at the Theatre Institute in Prague; currently the centre can be found on Prague's Malostranské náměstí (Lesser Town Square) in the building of Lichtenstein Palace. The Kylián Dance Centre and Library supports Czech dance and movement art, as well as its documentation and promotion. It also serves as a centre for the study and research of dance and movement art, not just for students and professionals, but also for the public.