DARK LANDSCAPES is a ballet piece for 16 dancers, created for the Ballet of Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb in 2016. It can be described as a choreographic poem of somber traces, intuitive spaces, and areas of empowering disappearance. It’s a performing gesture and durational practice simultaneously, that generates a floating choreographic structure as collective terrain of thinking and sensing. It seeks to create with fragments of the future, with something that is freshly formulated and therefore still fragile, offering such openness to a meaningful understanding of the world: a vast landscape, a trace, a space with many yet-to-be-grasped relations.

The score is composed originally for this work by Thomas Köner.

Commissioned by the State Ballet of Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb for the 2016/2017 season, and the 2017/2018 repertoire. Premiere: November 11, 2016.

A DARK LANDSCAPE can signify everything that is intuitively inscribed in to the world, in another words, everything that has not yet found its possible occurrence. If we imagine any form that communicates something that is unmarked by language then this understanding inscribes itself in to the framework of our inner knowledge by its very manifestation upon the form. Amplitudes of imagination within the volume of space, able to replenish that volume with some other experience of rhythm, time and substance, are focal points of this ballet and its dark visions. In the realm of choreography, body is able to expand itself further, unifying the narratives of animate and inanimate matter and moving closer to the understanding of all phenomena in a singular hierarchical line, whether animate or (apparently) inanimate matter: objects of various volumes, space as an object or as a time structure, time as a facility or an absence, and then further; thought as an object or as an absence, emotion as a volume-as a thought-as a space, form as a thought-as an object in time-as a knowledge without history, dynamic as a trace of a substance-as a kinesthetic tension-as a thought. This choreographic ballet work then, articulates in several frames reliefs of dark landscapes creating a possibility of different worlds, in the differentiation of its own metaphysical, formal and transformative reach.

This ballet formulates a performing gesture as poetic, intuitive and durational practice. Poetic in the sense of the awareness of a possibility of aesthetic knowledge; intuitive in the sense of embarking to the outermost edges of consciousness and articulation; and durational in the sense of understanding dance as a medium of time and the flow of time, that furthermore perceives it as a building material where expression of the length of time is a porous structure.

In a long dance sessions, in which body passes through the layers of existing patterns, inscribed sequences, limited scopes and compulsive reactions, what slowly emerges is a confidence in the upcoming undefined. This interpretive opened undefined stabilizes a confidence in what is still uninscribed, what is still unfounded, what is still unrecognized. In another words, there is a trust that creates a space of a movement as a mutual place of thinking about the world.

Singular body, able to self-determine itself in a relation to the whole, is grasping the whole and is re-creating it anew. This gesture of creation with the fragments of the future, with something that is freshly formulated and therefore still fragile, is precisely what dance can offer as a meaningful understanding of the world. In this regard, something sensitive and open to reformulation can only be a dark landscape, a space of dawning edges.

Marjana Krajač


“Dancers are moving plasticity, a sign, a pulse, an imprint and a footprint; in a constant transformation of space. During carefully organized improvisation they are moving or standing, in a code of classical ballet – refined abstract language of body positions, lines and figures; they are sliding, changing positions within flow of time or are being moved through the space like figurines. Marjana Krajač distilled from dancers concentrated and intense listening of their own place within the image and polyphonic resonance of a shift, that is quietly and continuously taking place within the universe of a scene. There are some discreet but noticeable and different, revealing singular details at all levels, such as dead swan or white painted face of one dancer. Thomas Köner’s music created from a mutual starting place, envisioned along a movement as a dense energy flow, is completely integrated into the choreography and the forming of dark landscapes.”

Maja Đurinović, Plesnascena.hr

“Along the music of a German composer Thomas Köner, that is dominated by percussion and gong, choreographer Marjana Krajač created a contemporary emanating dance work within the score of classical ballet. This visually rich and interesting study of melancholy, grief and bewilderment is challenging the dancers to go through, over and sometimes even against the music. Visualization of the work, as well as set and costume design is signed by one of the most interesting Croatian designers Silvio Vujičić, here in a minimalist and monochromatic expression.”

Bojana Radović, Večernji list

“Marjana Krajač has created a contemporary dance work that could equally be read as a possible dystopian romantic ballet. By choreographing, in the expanded sense, she created dances en pointe for ballerinas and dances on the verge of classical ballet vocabulary for male ballet dancers, conjoining improvisation as an essentially contemporary dance act and the academic rules of abstract movement which is, following the thought of John Martin, engrained in the roots of ballet aesthetic. Choreography also leans on the classic partner relationship between the male and the female dancer, as well as on the sculptural grip of two male bodies being mutually transported from one place to the other. The refined technique of maximum clarity in the performances of dancers like Asuka Maruo, Iva Vitić-Gameiro, Cristiana Rotolo or Duilio Ingraffia, for example, adds to the indisputable legibility of movement, unhidden touches of corporeality, soft gazes, hand gestures stretching out to something, to someone. All this creates a subtle narrative of melancholy flâneurs, meditative wanderers, silhouettes of passengers surrounded by tense haze in romantic paintings. … Marjana Krajač in her choreographic procedure objectivises the ballet technique and sets it at the very source of performative thought. The dancers are given a chance to freely delve into an infinite archive of codified steps, turns, jumps, supports or poses. They improvise trajectories the graphism of their dance gestures and flashes of classical ballet figures in a white space scenography imbued with dark sound.” (Full text: here)

Katja Šimunić, Magazine for Dance Kretanja/Movements

Duration: 45 minutes / Choreography & concept: Marjana Krajač / Music: Thomas Köner / Scenography & costumes: Silvio Vujičić / Ballet mistress: Suzana Bačić / Dramaturgical support: Andrej Mirčev / Danced by: Asuka Maruo, Adam Harris, Cristiana Rotolo, Tomaž Golub, Iva Vitić Gameiro, Andrea Schifano, Lucija Radić, Takuya Sumitomo, Miruna Miciu, Kornel Palinko, Natalia Horsnell, Guilherme Alves, Rieka Suzuki, Duilio Ingraffia, Valentina Štrok, Ovidiu Muscalu / Light design concept: Marjana Krajač, Silvio Vujičić / Light design: Aleksandar Čavlek / Scenography assistants: Ivan Škugor, Ante Serdar / Documentation: Karla Jurić / Stage manager: Snježana Marasović / Sound technician: Želimir Jedinak/Stipe Smokrović / Publication editor: Elizabeta Kumer / Ballet director of Ballet of Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb: Leonard Jakovina / Ballet production executive: Andreja Ružak Barbanov / Office supervisor: Ksenija Balog / Ballet ensemble assistant: Romeo Novaković


Program Notes PDF