Interview with Dominik White SLAVKOVSKY about his upcoming career as a choreographer
You have been dancing with Ballet Zürich since 2014/2015. When did you start choreographing? How did you learn the art of choreography? What were your challenges?
I like to engage in some type of creative work, particularly visual art. Some people see dance through emotions, some people as a transcript of the music. To me, dancing is a visual craft that is supported by music.
When the «Junge Choreografen» program came around in 2016, it marked exactly 100 years since the DADA movement started. We were supported by the theatre to create pieces in the spirit of the celebration of the DADA movement and to explore the idea of “nonsense”.
My first choreography HOW TO SAVE THE WORLD was supported by Ballet Zürich as part of the 2016 selection of young choreographers. I knew that even if it ended up as a flop, it would still be a win! That’s DADA. So, I tried to open my world and wasn’t shy to go one step further with my ideas to see what could happen, which was quite freeing and I’ve learned this feeling for the process back then and I tried to keep it ever since.
My biggest challenge is that I still don’t think I’m a choreographer. Therefore it takes me a while to create actual steps. I see myself as a dramaturg with a love for theatre and visual art, and the medium I end up working with is dance. That means I create the story first in my head and then I try to tell it through movements and steps.
Luckily, I’m a dancer and when I hear music I want to dance (Not create, just dance). But I try to harvest this feeling and combine it with the dramaturgical and creative ideas, plus some aesthetics… and maybe this mixture ends up setting me apart.
Your latest work, BOYBAND, as a part of the «Junge Choreografen» series at Opernhaus Zürich, was highly appreciated by the audience. You already presented 2 choreographies „HOW TO SAVE THE WORLD“ and „CONSPIRACY“. Tell us more about your choreographies.
I greatly appreciated the positive response to BOYBAND, which was bigger than I expected. We knew we were having fun in the studio, but then presenting it in front of the audience could have ended up being misunderstood.
But I created BOYBAND with intention to reflect on abuse of power, greed, possessive behaviour, and the shallowness of us humans, and how I can’t explain why this occurs. That’s why “Tell me why” in the song by the Backstreet Boys was my choice for the creation.
Pieces I’ve made up until now did come out humorous. For me to create, something needs to bother me, and it is beneficial to me if my initial idea is a question. I want to give food for thought to think about, but in a way that makes the audience laugh about us people and all the mistakes we have and make.
HOW TO SAVE THE WORLD was about politicians and money. I’ve just set the story around the character from the video game Super Mario.
CONSPIRACY was about racism. I just portrayed it with a green alien who, rather than staying on earth with a racist family, decides to abduct a cow.
You asked your friends of Ballet Zurich to dance your choreography. How is it to work on the other side, especially with your best friends?
Oh, an absolute blast! Sometimes, for this production, we go through very tiring evenings, so you do want to close yourself in a room with great fun and positive people. I found exactly that.
You have worked with a lot of choreographers with Ballet Zurich. Who has influenced you the most artistically and by personality?
All of them! There is really something to learn from everyone, not just choreographers but also my amazing colleagues!
On your Instagram account you present other artwork. What other hidden talents do you have?
I do like to take photos and videos. As I’m already a “dancer during the day”, I don’t want to show just that. My Instagram is supposed to show another artistic side of me. I love colors, I love Pop, I love screens and the digital world and it’s another way of me experimenting with visuals. I have all these apps where I can experiment with pictures; the results can be silly, but it taught me a lot!
I already had a few art exhibitions around Europe, for example in Prague 2017 and Zürich 2019, plus an online auction in Russia and an ongoing exhibition in private collection in Warsaw.
Dominik White Slavkovsky
Dominik White Slavkovský is from Slovakia. After training at the Bratislava Dance Conservatory, he danced for five years in the ballet of the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, most recently as a demi-soloist. He has been a member of Ballett Zürich since the 2014/15 season. He has appeared in numerous choreographies by Christian Spuck, including the title role of Woyzeck, Drosselmeier in Nussknacker und Mausekönig, Coppelius in Der Sandmann and as Paris in Romeo und Julia. He has also danced in choreographies by George Balanchine, Uwe Scholz, Alexei Ratmansky, Jiří Kylián, William Forsythe, Hans van Manen, Nacho Duato, Marco Goecke, Edward Clug, James Kudelka, Vladimir Malakhov, and many others. He presented his choreographies How to save the world and Conspiracy as a part of the «Junge Choreografen» series.