PONEC – the dance venue
PONEC – the dance venue – is an award-winning project by Tanec Praha, celebrated for its artistic use of the former Ponec cinema in 1998. The concept of this first dance house – orprofessional venue for contemporary dance in the Czech Republic – received support from the Žižkov town hall and a 25-year contract, under the condition that the reconstruction of the run-down building would be completed and financed within three years.
In September 2001 PONEC first opened its doors as a stage and facility for contemporary dance, movement theatre and all types of art with which dance communicates. PONEC is an open space for dance, whose mission is to support the independent dance scene and its outreach into other genres. It co-produces 7 – 10 premieres per year and is also the chief producer of selected international projects, boasts a highly professional technical team and advanced light design equipment, and permits creative residencies for artists to complete productions on the stage. About a third of the theatre's activities are devoted to working with children and adolescents and it is involved in a wide range of international networks and projects, in which it promotes and supports Czech dance.
The main program of PONEC, which consists of productions by high-profile companies and artists carefully selected by the artistic management of Tanec Praha, also features interesting projects in cooperation with non-profit organizations, such as Bajkazyl, AutoMAT and others.
In addition, PONEC offers space for other artists in its "Be Our Guest" program.
Two-hundred productions are staged annually at PONEC.
PONEC – the dance venue opened as a new type of artistic space for the first time after major reconstruction in 2001. Its name honours František Ponec, who operated the famous Ponec Royal Bioskop in the building from 1910, one of the first cinemas in Prague. This new stage designed mainly for the presentation of contemporary dance filled a blank space on Prague's theatrical landscape.
1888 Rudolf Stabenow builds the building as a mechanical engineering workshop.
1888 – 1910 Production of rolling sheets, wires, rods, pipes, screws, nuts, gutters and brass elbows for stoves.
1910 František Ponec opens a cinema called the Royal Bioskop.
1910 – 1929 Ponec's Royal Bioskop.
1929 – 1946 The municipality of Žižkov operates a cinema here under the name Žižkov Municipal Cinema.
1946 – 1968 Bio Ponec (return to the original name in honour of František Ponec).
1968 – 1998 Used as a warehouse for the Prague Film Company.
1998 – 2001 Rebuilt into a dance theatre by the Tanec Praha civic association.
2001 The Ponec Theatre commences operation as a venue for contemporary dance and movement theatre.
The dramaturgy of PONEC is formed by a diverse range of local and international projects with an emphasis on high-quality contemporary dance in dialogue with other progressive artistic genres. A third of the theatre's activities are focussed on work with children and adolescents, and now also with seniors and minority groups.
PONEC is a place where the interests of professionals and the public are concentrated – professional seminars, conferences, discussions and workshops are regularly held here.
PONEC is the home venue of the CZECH DANCE PLATFORM and TANEC PRAHA festivals, and also provides space to the 4+4 Days in Motion and Small Inventory festivals.
PONEC – the dance venue strives to open its dramaturgy to leading local artists and young dancers, children, schools and guests.
When preparing its dramaturgy the theatre looks primarily at these aspects:
- PONEC is an important partner for local artists, to whom it offers a venue for the presentation of their projects. An open group is recruited from these choreographers and dancers that collaborates intensively with artists working independently with PONEC and who work in the theatre as part of its high-profile dramaturgy and community work.
- PONEC continually pursues opportunities for collaboration with foreign artists and institutions, initiates and develops activities leading to the creation of co-productions, own productions and residencies of foreign artists and creative stays of Czech artists abroad.
- PONEC never closes the circle of artists with whom it collaborates and continually offers a "wild card" to beginning artists. Due to the success of the "open venue" concept it is not considering establishing its own permanent ensemble.
PONEC is an important place for the revitalization of contemporary dance, movement theatre and other inspirational crossovers to other genres, alternatives and stage technologies, which were and are generated by contemporary art in the Czech Republic. Its innovative approach consists primarily in its content, i.e. its dramaturgy, but also in its broad international cooperation.
PONEC – the dance venue is operated by Tanec Praha, a non-profit NGO, founded in 1991 on the basis of a 25-year lease agreement with the Municipal District of Prague 3, valid until 2023. PONEC was created from the needs of the dynamically developing Czech dance scene, whose expansion in the new millennium clearly shows that only one such venue is nowhere near enough. Among other things, this has been demonstrated since the 1990s by gradually emerging activities and subjects (4+4 Days in Motion, Archa, Alfred ve dvoře, NOD, Studio ALTA, Jatka78, etc.), which give space to various forms of dance and movement and collaborate with Tanec Praha on the Platform and other activities, such as the International Day of Dance.
PONEC – the dance venue is operated by Tanec Praha with the financial support of the Capital City of Prague,the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, the Municipal District of Prague 3 and many other partners.
PONEC as the main producer
The PONEC Theatre works on a project basis. In 2014, the PONEC Theatre successfully joined the Be SpectACTive! project and will share as a full partner in the creation of new productions. In future years it will promote Czech artists in obtaining foreign residencies and support for their work in the Creative Europe program.
PONEC as a co-producer
Since it began its activities in 2001, the theatre has established a much needed facility for creative groups and contemporary dancers. It contributes as a co-producer to the creation of new progressive works in this field and wants to remain an open space for dance as well as other inspiring crossovers into contemporary art. PONEC shares in the creation of at least seven premieres each year.
PONEC for Children
Since 2004 PONEC has opened its space to children. The Children's Studio focuses on the creative development of children's personalities from the age of four. The theatre's dramaturgy also sets aside space for dance projects intended for child audiences – there are morning and afternoon interactive performances for students of elementary and high schools as well as for children and their parents. The project aims to bring children closer to contemporary dance and to encourage schools to teach dance and movement education as part of their curriculum. Artists connected with PONEC as part of its Dance for Schools project are involved in this initiative.
PONEC – other collaborations
The PONEC Theatre's year-round activities include its accompanying program, e.g. improvisation evenings in a dialogue of contemporary music and dance, Silent Night, the bed cinema and other events held in PONEC, e.g. with Bajkazyl. The program is also enriched by concerts, usually connected with specific performances or events.
PONEC emphasizes greater connection with its surroundings and works with various communities. The artists gradually come to take on this role as their own and do not hesitate to go out into the streets, open rehearsals to the public and have discussions after the performances. They are interested in public spaces where they can reach new audiences who don't know anything about contemporary dance.
PONEC also co-organizes a wide range of cultural events and festivals. It strives to collaborate with festivals across the artistic spectrum. It cooperates with basic municipal initiatives,such as AutoMAT, or non-profits like ELPIDA, and also contributes to the promotion of the sustainable mobility and environment of cities.
In addition to this, under the name "GUEST" PONEC offers a venue for other productions or artists who do not fall within the main dramaturgy, so that to a certain extent they can also use the space. These works are not specifically selected by the artistic management of the theatre.
A crucial part of the theatre's activities is international cooperation, which is based on long-term networking, exchange of experiences and creation of conditions for creative residencies and other projects.