Milan Kozánek studied modern dance pedagogy at the Faculty of Music and Dance of The Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. Having acquired extensive experience in Slovak modern dance companies, he collaborated with choreographers abroad, such as Robert Galvan (Argentina, Switzerland), Willi Dorner (Austria), with the groups Denise Lampart, Molteni of Philipp Egli and with the Zurich State Opera. He participated in a number of projects by the choreographer Zuzana Hájková.
Since 1993 Mr Kozánek focuses on his own choreographic work. In 1995 he received an award at the Choreography Competition 95. As visiting choreographer, he collaborated with the Štúdio tanca dance theatre in Banská Bystrica, The Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra, the Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance (SEAD) and the Faculty of Art of the University in Calgary.
In 1996 he founded, with Zuna Vesan Kozánková, dance company Artyci, where they focus, in equal share on choreographic work and teaching. They presented their joint work in Slovakia and internationally (inter alia in Germany, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Canada, Thailand, China).
After over twenty years of research and teaching at such institutions as the SEAD (2005 – 2006 assistant to the director Susan Quinn, staff dance tutor and choreographer; s. 2007 special adviser), Tanzquartier Wien, Konservatorium Wien University, Northern School of Contemporary Dance (Leeds), TIP – School for Dance, Improvisation and Performance (Freiburg) or the University of Calgary, Mr Kozánek developed his own teaching approach and system.
In addition to firmly choreographically anchored works, as choreographer he also engaged in projects exclusively based on structured improvisation (Hard Landing, New Ritual, Numen@Lumen.sk). From 2008 to 2016 he presented an improvised “dance – talk show” Couch Corner. The project became the platform for experienced dance performers meeting on stage in an improvised living room. The themes of individual performative sessions are either philosophical or altogether prosaic. They were often connected to dance, the performers themselves and the city where the show took place.
Since 2010, Mr Kozánek has been engaging in close collaboration with artists and stage performers who seek a link between physical theatre, movement, text, voice and singing. He has been part of a number of research stage projects on which he collaborated with theatre-makers from such groups as Studio Matejka (Poland), Teatr Pieśń Kozła (Poland), Rēs Ratio Network (Greece), Honey and Dust (Slovakia). In team with Andrej Kalinka, the leader of the Honey and Dust, he participated on such titles as The King (2017), eu.genus (2018) and the project Uninteresting scream (2019).
Throughout his hitherto artistic career he has been engaged in teaching people who have no prior movement experience. Man has always been the leitmotif and fascination in both artistic and teaching practice. He links his knowledge in anatomy with that of Eastern philosophies and Taoism. His creative attitude to the Eastern philosophies finds impulses in the study of Japanese and Chinese calligraphy, in the practice of intuitive archery, and in I Liq Chuan, the system of martial arts of the master Sam F.S. Chin. Theoretically and practically he has been working with one of the oldest books I-Ching (The Book of Transformations).
In his choreographic works, Milan Kozánek has been long and comprehensively focusing on the quest for an authentic core of movement impulse. He strips it to instantly develop at the limits of physical ability of the performers. His trust in the bodily expression exceeds the narrative subtexts and emotional inspirations. His themes often embrace universal issues as presented in their most basic form. Stripping them of the pathetic undertone, he invites contemplation over the meaning of life, the nature of the sources of movement impulses, the sense of relational schemes and quality of life. Defined physical activity is his means of expressing those abstracted intellectual themes. His concept of dance projects has a most subtly defined structure with choreographic focus on detail. That is the bearer of the theme, the prism through which he as author communicates with spectator.
In his dance project Sui Generis (2007), the self-exploratory, intimate ritual about a quest for oneself, Mr Kozánek paid tribute to non-verbal communication. In the duet of man (Róbert Tirpák/Petr Opavský) and woman (Zuna Kozánková) set and developed the theme of systematic physical and metaphysical communication. The production lets the two bodies use dance to create a network of acronyms the meaning of which oscillates between intellectual sophistication and native expression of libido. The performers go through situations when they are irritated by the final fragments and symbols of connection with the past intuitive conscience. In movement sand poses they overcome the limits of anatomic presumption, using their bodies to create multidimensional structures. The fluid transition between the poses has the quality of interflow; the fluidity of movement gives poise to neck-breaking poses. By working with rhythm between synchronised movements and autonomous variations to the movement material, Mr Kozánek creates a narrative link through an evolutionary record. Yet it isn’t entirely clear whether it is about forward or backward direction – a matter of progress or return to the roots, proper existential nature, stripped of civilisational and social ballast and pragmatic constructs. Brilliant mastery of basic body movements on the part of the performers cooperates with the discovery of physical self-awareness through the coordinated fragmentation of movement. Generational genesis of statement leaves its imprint on stage in dust used to draw contours of the dancers. The couple eventually scatters the traces as sand mandalas into the space, in a stylised manner.
Body as the medium for complex expression of life stance, the communication channel for stage dialogue among the performers (Radoslav Piovarči and Petr Ochvat), and between them and the audience is the theme of the male duet PURE (2015). Human body is the lead character in discovering the unusual movement skills and virtuosity, exploration of the purity of performative expression, presence of stage, and authentic reality. The work with the dynamic power of physical expression offers a fully-fledged dynamic charge. The duetoften resembles an animalistic character, ritual duel of the two dominant leaders. It is given by the confrontation of their different typology, the encounter of different qualities of movement within a shared space, play with unification and setting harmony. Mutual courage, freedom and trust shared by the choreographer and the performers offer space to process the movement impulses, to develop them and play out in repetitive clusters. The difference in performative approach to the set joint movement theme creates style generating levels that interact with each other. The dancers free their stage space, harmonise in it and polarise the theme into their dance images. The compact nature of the production benefits form the music by Andrej Jurkovič, the layering of string loops, the work with minimalistic moves, and the differentiation within music themes. The performative mastery and purism of the choreographic concept turn the work with the body in touching beauty, intellectual challenge and a kind of personal sense of connections that would otherwise be devalued through verbalisation. The comments by the dancers in the cuts of images and the seeming banality of their conversational themes bring humanising humour into what is dance perfectionism. The civility of the dance expression, patience in seeking and developing movement motives, firm mutual respect, along with the sense of otherness, it all creates an exceptional quality of the stage statement. The kindness expressed in the approach to work with the body and personality of dancer epitomise the work of Milan Kozánek. The same applies to his thoroughness in preparing the brilliant movement material that is the source of finding the meaning of life in the beauty of existence.
In the production As it is (2018) he continues, as choreographer in the movement study of the quest for the purity of expression of body without applying the predefined narrative. The body of the performer Evandro Pendroni seeks and defines, through movement, its place, it defines itself and poses as mediator, offering ever new changes of meanings, of crossing the limits of physicality. It is a material, means and expression of philosophical position, with emphasis placed on the spiritual side of being. The architectural construct of body that is set in motion in the opening of the performance, is a micro-drama about the infinity of stability of bodily poses as anchored in the fragile points of contact with the floor. In the next part, the theme of balance is transformed into a dynamic study where the choreographer puts in motion, around a vertical axis, spiral release of the energy of gesture. By expanding movements into lines and dosing their direction, he gradually conquers the entire space. The concentrated energy is then abstracted into equilibristics between pull and counterpull, cumulation and release, pressure and counter-pressure, autosemantic and synsemantic gesture. In the end, this play becomes a play with reality honesty, possibility of being. When developing his dramaturgical structure, Mr Kozánek abstracts the principal elements of the themes, leaving them in their raw form of authenticity. The compact abstract idea is again alleviated with a witty detail of action. He brings refreshing elements of absurdity into the definition of reality.
Humanism is, to Milan Kozánek, the source for definition of the noblest philosophical positions and systems. In its seeming simplicity he finds ample inspirations to develop the fundamental value codes. He makes them present through bodily reality. Utter liberation from the narrative nature of the libretto awards him freedom in setting the directorial logic and choreographic structure of his dance productions.
A list of original works:
1996 – With You, choreography: Milan Kozánek, Zuna Kozánková. Première: Faculty of Music and Dance, Academy of Performing Arts, Bratislava
1996 – The Myth, choreography, team work: Katarína Odzganová, Ivan Martinka, Zuna Kozánková a Milan Kozánek. Première: Theatre Aréna, Bratislava
1997 – Other World, choreography: Milan Kozánek. Première: Movement Studio Dvorana, Academy of Performing Arts, Bratislava
1998 – Hard Landing, Artyci, directed by and concept: Milan Kozánek. Première: Culture Centre Ružinov, Bratislava
1998 – God´s Atoms, Slovak Chamber Theatre, Martin, directed by: Rastislav Ballek, choreography assistance: Milan Kozánek. Première: Slovak Chamber Theatre, Martin
1999 – All is different, Artyci, Movement Studio Dvorana, Academy of Performing Arts, Bratislava, choreography: Milan Kozánek. Première: Movement Studio Dvorana, Academy of Performing Arts, Bratislava
2000 – Il Nome glorioso in terra…, Musica Aeterna, directed by: Peter Maťo, choreography: Milan Kozánek. Première: Slovak Philharmonics, Bratislava
2000 – New Ritual, International Festival Bratislava v pohybe, Bratislava, concept: Milan Kozánek. Première: Bratislava in Movement – International Festival of Contemporary Dance, Bratislava
2001 – One Yin for every Yang, Artyci, choreography: Zuna Kozánková and Milan Kozánek. Première: Theatre Ponec, Prague
2001 – Game with Time, Štúdio tanca dance theatre, Banská Bystrica, choreography: Milan Kozánek. Première: Štúdio tanca dance theatre, Banská Bystrica
2003 –AINA for 5 singles, Štúdio tanca dance theatre, Banská Bystrica, theme: Milan Kozánek, Martin Kubran, choreography: Milan Kozánek. Première: Štúdio tanca dance theatre, Banská Bystrica
2004 – NUMEN@LUMEN.sk, Artyci, choreography: Zuna Kozánková and Milan Kozánek. Première: Štyri (+1) dni tanca pre Vás, Banská Bystrica
2005 – Mass, Artyci, theme: Milan Kozánek, Jaro Viňarský, choreography: Milan Kozánek. Première: Theatre Ponec, Prague
2005 – Igor Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring, The Andrej Bagar Theatre Nitra, directed by: Svetozár Sprušanský, choreography: Milan Kozánek. Première: The Andrej Bagar Theatre Nitra
2005 – Red, Salzburg Experimental Dance Academy, Salzburg, choreography: Milan Kozánek. Première: Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance, Salzburg
2006 – Nothing, Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance, Salzburg, choreography: Milan Kozánek. Première: Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance, Salzburg
2007 – Sui generis, Artyci, choreography: Zuna Kozánková, Róbert Tirpák, Milan Kozánek (Artyci). Première: Theatre Ponec, Prague
2008 – Couch corner, Artyci, concept and directed by: Milan Kozánek, Zuna Kozánková. Première: University of Calgary, Department of Dance, Calgary
2008 – Red 2, University of Calgary, Department of Dance, choreography: Milan Kozánek. Première: University of Calgary, Department of Dance, Calgary
2009 – Click, Verve, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Leeds, choreography: Milan Kozánek. Première: Verve, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Leeds
2012 – Let Go, Verve, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Leeds, choreography: Milan Kozánek. Première: Verve, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Leeds
2015 – Shiny metal, University of Calgary, Department of Dance, choreography: Milan Kozánek. Première: University of Calgary, Department of Dance, Calgary
2015 – PURE, Artyci, theme and choreography: Milan Kozánek. Première: Záhrada – Centre for Independent Culture, Banská Bystrica
2016 – CH_5, Štúdio tanca dance theatre, Banská Bystrica, choreography: Milan Kozánek. Première: Štúdio tanca dance theatre, Banská Bystrica
2016 – Parasites, Buranteater, Brno, choreography and directed by: Milan Kozánek. Première: Buranteater, Brno
2017 – The King, Honey and Dust, directed by and music: Andrej Kalinka, assistant director and dramaturgy: Milan Kozánek. Première: Bratislava Puppet Theatre, Bratislava
2018 – As it is, Artyci, theme, choreography, visual concept and directed by: Milan Kozánek. Première: Záhrada – Centre for Independent Culture, Banská Bystrica
2018 – eu.genus, Honey and Dust, directed by: Andrej Kalinka, assistant director and dramaturgy: Milan Kozánek. Première: Nová Cvernovka, Bratislava
2018 – Within, choreography: Milan Kozánek. Première: The Nine Theatre, Beijing
2019 – Uninteresting scream, Honey and Dust, directed by: Andrej Kalinka, assistant director a dramaturgy: Milan Kozánek. Première: Station Žilina-Záriečie, Žilina.
Videos from productions:
Sui Generis, 2007
Author of the trailer: Lukáš Kodoň
archive of the Artyci
The video can be found at the following link: www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=w-3dQiNe1AQ
Author of the trailer: Matúš Druga
archive of the Artyci
The video can be found at the following link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrLqHsWE-qc
As it is, 2018
Author of the trailer: Matúš Druga
archive of the Artyci
The video can be found at the following link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsXQviLYNcM