Jana Tereková

The Slovak artist had her artistic research session in Prague from 14th to 25th of August 2021. Her host organization was Live Performance Bazaar.

JANA TEREKOVÁ is an internationally active Slovak choreographer and dancer. She is the author of several dance pieces and site specific performances which have been presented in various places including galleries, cultural institutes and in public space. A dance piece and a dance installation FETTERED TO THE MOMENT (2020/21), are based on bodies that can be seen as human or non-human: as animals, machines or something in-between. The dance piece SHE HAD 70 SKIRTS (2018) invites to a universe where dance moves back and forth between body and objects: the body is metamorphosed, objectified, becomes doll, puppet or marionette, objects are filled with sensitivity, become carriers of physicality, wandering ghosts in an decentralized space.
In her dance piece with poetry and live music THE MIRRORING (2017), Jana develops an abstract, decentralized and precise écriture that carries away and leaves free the mind of spectator. As a dancer, she took part in dance and multi-genre projects under the direction of choreographers from different countries (Jean Gaudin, Davide Sportelli, Milan Kozanek, among others). She has performed in France, Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland… In 2011, she received the Audience Award at the SzoloDuo Festival in Budapest. She followed the training for choreographers Edition spéciale (2018-19) at the Centre national de la dance (CND) in Paris and holds the state diploma of dance teacher (CND, 2014).


Note of Intent

When animals are deprived of their natural environment/closed in an inappropriate space, they tend to develop an abnormal repetitive behavior: Elephants swinging over and over their heads, giraffes obsessively licking a metal bar, primates going from left to right with the exact number of steps and the exact trajectory each time. Some animals in distress spend 70 % of their time like this. Observing these animals, you could make a parallel with GIFs, repetitive moving images that are massively exposed on social networks and fascinate us. But these „GIFs” made by animals in distress are rather hidden, they look weird, troubling and uncomfortable for the public. Yet we massively continue to treat animals as objects, as means of profit.

The artistic challenge is to create obsessed, weird, troubled and troubling, alienated bodies which are able to turn into calm bodies instantly, stretching out time, doing nothing or too less, carrying out rituals without apparent sense, inefficient and unnecessary. How to balance on this border, between the two body states? The piece can be received as an ironic and bitter action in the face of general inaction, ignorance and arrogance. And as a praise of uselessness and boredom, creating a counterweight to the world based on the negotium (as opposed to otium), obsessed with utility and efficiency that has reduced nature and living beings in consumer goods.

Questions of the residency

Looking for a sustainable movement and for the disturbing weirdness / the feeling of uncanny

During the residency, we intended to explore the ARBs, especially those of a locomoteur character such as swinging, swaying, rocking, rolling, dancing, using certain body parts as independent objects… What do these stereotyped movements do to our bodies, being watched and being done? When does stress relief turn into stress rise, triggered by unilateral load and solicitation? For how long can we keep one loop going on? How many changes may be made, how many loops do the creation need?

Still, the main challenge seems to be on the side of the moving body: after a certain time, the body becomes tired due to stereotypical charge and each repetition becomes more and more painful. In order to minimize the pain, the original loop starts to mute, to differ from the original, independently of the dancers’ will. Our research focused on a possibility to find a „sustainable movement“ that could be kept for a very long time and wouldn’t be banal or a part of the daily-life functional movements. (We were not interested in exploring walking.) How to bring a feeling of uncanny into the movement forms? How to create unmatching associations and discrepancies in one body in order to destabilize the perception, to create a feeling of familiarity and frightening at the same time? We have explored numerous associations of movements of non-matching nature (mechanical, geometric, (non)functional) and forms which could evoke more human-like creatures or something else.

From the point of view of the spectator, looking at the same loop for a long time brings more pleasure than we would expect. After a certain while, the perception becomes sharper and the gaze becomes more sensitive to detail and to slight changes, each loop becomes a small surprise because it is not always completely the same. To escape from the loop seems impossible, a changement to another loop is perceived as being brutal or violent; from inside of the moving body and from the point of view of the spectator as well.

Searching for the sustainable movement will continue and the premiere is planned for autumn 2022 in Bratislava.

Inspirations for the research

Time and eciency

„Nous ne supportons plus la durée. Nous ne savons plus féconder l’ennui. Notre nature a horreur du vide. En 1935, établissant un “bilan de l’intelligence”, Paul Valéry déplore ainsi l’élimination du temps long et ses conséquences sur la vie de la pensée. Pour le poète, cette vacuité sans but, sans utilité, sans calcul, est pourtant inséparable de la liberté. Dans le vagabondage de l’esprit et du regard, chacun peut se retrouver et construire un monde qui n’est qu’à soi. Chacun peut accéder à la paix essentielle des profondeurs de l’être, cette absence sans prix, pendant laquelle les éléments les plus délicats de la vie se rafraîchissent et se réconfortent et permettent à la conscience de produire des formations pures comme des cristaux.“

JEAN-MIGUEL PIRE : Otium. Art, éducation, démocratie. ACTES SUD, 2020

ARB in animals

„Stereotypies may represent normal behavior that is intrinsically rewarding, for instance, or they may provide stimulation in a barren environment. Indeed, the rhythmicity of this repetitive stimulation may be what the organism finds rewarding. De Lissavoy reported that normal children who showed head-banging behavior were described by their mothers as prone to other forms of rhythmic activity and as very responsive to music.“


„Some studies have indicated that stereotypic behaviour [in animals] produces a ‘trance-like’ state and is linked to reduced awareness of the environment. [Some scientists] associate stereotypes in human children with analgesia. […]

The stereotypes of non-human primates are generally divided into two categories: deprivation stereotypes and cage stereotypes. Deprivation stereotypes are also referred to as self-directed stereotypes because the behaviours are performed on the individual’s own body. For example, self orality describes non- nutritive sucking of an animal on one or more parts of its body (e.g. fingers, tail, or genitalia). Rocking, huddling, and crouching are abnormal postures. Self abuse refers to self injurious behaviour, such as biting, scratching, or head banging. The term floating limb is used to describe a phenomenon which involves an animal’s limb appearing to move of its own accord. This surprises the animal which will then threaten and attack the limb. A salute is another abnormal posture which in12volves the animal placing a hand in front of its face, palm out, with one or more fingers pressed against the eyeball. Deprivation stereotypes are usually seen in monkeys that have been separated from their mothers at birth or within the first year of life and raised in part or total social isolation. These abnormal behaviours are thought to be analogous to the normal behaviours seen in infant and juvenile monkeys. Here however they become self-directed in the absence of a con-specific. Self orality in isolates, specifically self- sucking of digits or tail, is considered to be analogous to nipple sucking in infants raised with their mothers. Self clasp is related to mother clinging or clasping. Self abuse is considered to be the only outlet for these animals’ frustration.

Repetitive locomotion stereotypes include pacing, jumping in place, and somer-saulting. As the name implies, these cage stereotypes are considered to be the result of the living environment of an animal. All of these stereotypes are active, involving dynamic, whole body movements. Dancing refers to a back and forth quadrupedal movement which is distinct from pacing or spinning.“


Humans in captivity

„The unreality of time diffuses an anesthetic torpor, accentuated by psychotropic drugs and television. The time contracted between four walls is spatialized, repetitive, chronometric: walk, parlor, meal, mail time, etc. in an immutable timeline and a body routine without a subject. Pacing up and down in metronomically regulated body language is an attempt to expand time and space through movement. […]

Lived space is […] this permanent production of man which is spatialization, this personal space that I open from my moving body, coextensive with the „I can“ that accompanies any perception of my living body. The detainee in prison is subjected to powerlessness. “https://www.cairn.info/revue-l-information-psychiatrique-2014-8-page-673.ht

Jana Tereková