“It seems to me like yesterday, it was several weeks after my daughter was born and I went to defend the vision of a dance theatre. I did not believe much that the city council would prefer our minority discipline, but I had acquired important recommendations from Europe, know about the good practice and dismal conditions for contemporary dance in the Czech Republic. In late summer 1998, the media started to approach me as they knew Tanec Praha succeeded before I learned about it. It was a big commitment to get money for the reconstruction and realize it within three years, but I signed the contract in September – it was worth trying,” Yvona Kreuzmannová, the founder and director of Tanec Praha, remembers. She continues: “The most challenging part was to convince the Ministry of Finance to provide an essential investment. Then I had to find a company which will start building backed up by a supplier credit, sponsors for some parts of the investment… We divided it into stages, and we had the façade as well as basic theatre technologies within five years. Our discipline has experienced a huge boom in the past 20 years, PONEC is no longer enough and we dream about another vision, the Dance House 200 meters higher with all the equipment – rehearsal rooms, rehabilitation, co-working space, etc.”
PONEC as an artistic space
PONEC – as the brand new kind of an artistic space – opened for the public after a complete reconstruction in 2001. The new stage designed for the presentation of contemporary dance filled one of the missing places on the theatre map of the capital and the Czech Republic. PONEC has become an important place for the development of contemporary dance, motion theatre, and other inspiring outreaches in other genres, alternatives, and stage technologies that have been generated by contemporary art. Its innovative approach lies in modern qualities of the theatre or dance hall (a black box with a suspension floor), as well as contents/dramaturgy.
PONEC does not have and does not want to have its own company, the programme consists of many small and big Czech and international projects and dance productions of a contemporary nature. It is a place with the concentration of amateurs and professionals as the venue hosts productions, seminars, conferences, discussions, creative residencies, open lessons, and workshops. The theatre also fundamentally influences the development of the lower Žižkov area. PONEC presents productions by Czech and international artists all year round and hosts about 200 events. It is a member of the prestigious European Dancehouse Network and is active in other projects and networks, supported by Creative Europe.
History of the building
The building was built in 1888 by the mechanical engineer Rudolf Stabenow as a factory hall – rolling mill and wireworks on the place called the Gallows Hill, Galgen Berg, or Totentanz Berg. The theatre got its name from František Ponec, who used the premises for one of the first cinemas in the Czech Republic since 1910 – Ponec’s Royal Bioscope. After 10 years the operator changed and the cinema was operated under the Žižkov municipality as the Municipal Bio Žižkov. In 1946 the cinema was renamed once again to Bio Ponec as an homage to its founder and was in operation until 1968. The object was then used by the Prague Film Enterprise as a storehouse and the building started to dilapidate. In 1997 Prague 3 opened the public call for cultural use of the object. The winner of the selection procedure for the long-term rent was the non-profit organization Tanec Praha in 1998. The complicated reconstruction took place for three years and Tanec Praha opened PONEC – Theatre for Dance on 10 September 2001.
PONEC is operated by Tanec Praha z.ú. and financially supported by the Municipality of Prague, Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, and Prague 3.
More information at www.divadloponec.cz