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Dragan Milinkovic

Dance in Montenegro.

Milinkovic, Dragan: "Dance in Montenegro", 17th International Congress on Dance Research, Naxos, 22-26/10, 2003.

Montenegro is a small country with about 650.000 inhabitants, which belongs officially to the actual Union of States of Serbia and Montenegro. At the crossroads of Oriental and Occidental Europe, Montenegro integrates all the components of the Balkans.

Cetinje was the capital of Montenegro for many centuries and is also the source of Montenegrin spirituality and constitution. As a result of its urban development, which is firmly related to the history of Montenegro, a unique architecture has been created. It reflects almost all the eclectic styles from the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Today, the School of Music, the School of Fine Arts, the School of Drama Arts, a Royal Theatre and other cultural institutions occupy the former embassies of European countries. This cultural capital has a great potential and through its facilities attracts many young people.

Nevertheless, the art of traditional dances and songs where always the most important form of cultural life in former Princedom and Kingdom of Montenegro, as well as, after lost of its sovereignty 1918, during eighty years of common life in former Yugoslavia.

With more than 130 years of activities Montenegrin Folk Dance Ensemble «Niegosh» from Cetinje is the most known representative of the traditional culture, the guardian of folk dances, songs and music and inheritor of valuable spiritual tradition of Montenegro. In the work of the Ensemble both attention is paid to the autentical folk and improved in style dances and songs. In its programme there are about eighty dances from all parts of ex-Yugoslavia, some with original costumes older than hundred years. «Niegosh» regularly took part at many local and international festivals on which it made great success and got many important acknowledgements.

In spite the fact that about fifty different folk ensembles are still active in Montenegro, there is no any level of formal school, educational programs or regular educational courses in the field of traditional culture. Internal courses are therefore the only and dominant form of absolutely amateurish dance education in Montenegro.

Almost the some situation is in all others forms of dances including classical ballet. In fact, there is only one secondary music school with ballet department (MusicSchool “Vasa Pavic” in Podgorica). Also, there is only one ballet group, which practises modern ballet (Group “Ballo”), but there is no any ballet theatre. Contrary, there are so many amateurish courses of so-called Hip-Hop and break dances.

Pedagogically and methodologically art of dance is quite correctly treated only on the Acting department of Scholl of Drama Arts in Cetinje. From the first beginning student of acting in this school attend regularly, during four years of studies, special lessons of practically all forms of dances, including historical dances and dances from the Court of the Montenegrin king Nicholas the First.            

The program "A week for dance"

Historical fact is that the Balkans has a strong cultural heritage in folk dance and classical dance and that many institutions are devoted to this creation. But it also evident that more and more projects in contemporary dance is emerging in the Balkan region and Eastern Europe. However, these projects led by young creators, lack the opportunity to fully develop since there are very few working and dialogue spaces devoted to construct and confront their ideas in.

The program "A week for dance" inscribes itself in an open and changing creative process, which crosses over disciplinary and geographical frontiers, where the concept “time of construction” is essential.  This program started two years ago and appeared from the meeting of two cultural structures: Contemporary Theater Cetinje (Montenegro) and Dance Company IXKIZIT Paris (France). The main idea was elaborated from mentioned need, with the objective to create an autonomous structure for contemporary dance in Montenegro, which would focus on the mobility and the accompaniment of young choreographers coming from these regions. Creating a time for dialogue and creation through the elaboration of "A weekfor dance" begins to fill this gap through an involvement of the local community and institutions of the City of Cetinje, in an intercultural environment that invites the Balkan countries, the Baltic countries, the Eastern and Western European countries to work towards structural cooperation projects.

The first edition took place between the 16th of July and 22nd of July 2002 in the context of the Biennial of Cetinje, under the general theme “Reconstruction”. About twenty young choreographers where invited from Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia, Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria to develop there personal projects in a Choreographic Workshop with the artistic accompaniment of the French choreographer Joel Borges. A long-term result of this First edition was the establishment of a coordination office in the premises of the Biennal making it possible to construct future cooperation projects for artistic exchanges.

The second edition of "A week for dance" in the Balkans was realized from 1st to the 7th of June 2003, Fifteen young choreographers from Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, Slovenia, Lithuania and Ukraine where invited to Cetinje to participate in a Professional Choreographic Workshop focused on their personal projects. All the participants where young choreographers that defend a personal creative project, that they are in phase of initiating. The workshop proposed a time for creation and dialogue through experimentations in public and intermediary spaces, as well as through new artistic collaboration.

This Second edition gives continuity to the co-operation between Contemporary Theater and Ixkizit Compagnie and hence to the objectives of the project. With the aim of integrating these artists in the European networks, six young choreographers from the workshop where invited to participate in the Second edition of the international residency program "Chantier en construction" organised by the company Ixkizit between the 7th and 18th of October 2002 at Mains d'Ouvres (France).

With the enlargement of the European Union towards the east, opening opportunities will present themselves to the Balkan region. Making the institutions aware and involved in the cultural development of the country is in term a way of preparing and emphasising the role, which the young generation will have in approaching through cooperation and exchange, multiple projects with the rest of Europe.

"A week for dance" wishes through its activities to prepare new ways and create new links that cross over disciplinary and geographical boarders. The dance expression put in the heart of the project renders possible a vaster working process that questions the society in which we live. artistic creation has the potential to release energy. Utilising alternative approaches and spaces give them new dimensions and provoke startling encounters and thereby open new forms of sociability, intercultural dialogue, and community building.

Prof. Mr. Dragan Milinkovic



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