In 2017, Iztok Kovač, the artistic director of the contemporary dance company EnKnapGroup, invited Josef Nadj to revisit his début choreography entitled Canard Pékinois (1987). For Josef Nadj, sometimes described in the media as "the magician of the stage", the revival of this piece represents the end of a thirty-year-long cycle and the beginning of a new creative period. It has given him an opportunity to return to the beginnings of his career and rethink the origins of his artistic expression. Working with the dancers, he isolated a specific motive from the original work and developed its variation which served as the basis for the new performance. At the heart of the Dark Union is a tragic story of the newlyweds, who got to taste the feeling of happiness just for a few moments before the impermanence of life stepped between them. Evoking a dark time full of emotions, this piece raises questions about the fleetingness of life, and compares two relationships: the relationship between a man and a woman, and the relationship between life and death. The personal story transcends the subjective and, through artistic transformation, becomes an intimate mythology that blossoms into a universal piece of art.

»For me, this piece symbolizes the long road I have walked as an artist; it is a sort of a time machine. It was only with time and emotional distance that I have understood what the essence of the piece actually is – in 1987 I wanted to tell a story I witnessed in my native Kanjiža, but now I realize that its main motive was the timeless one, which I portray in the revised version of the performance. Therefore, the essence of the piece easily manifests itself in this new reality as well, in the year 2018. The original story became only a small fragment of a much wider context. Sometimes I feel as if the piece itself was calling to me to be renewed with all my new experiences and gained knowledge. What we did with EnKnapGroup was an experiment which was like a miracle for me. It filled me with renewed energy, much due to the quality of the EnKnapGroup and its dancers.« Josef Nadj

Josef Nadj

Dance is above all a site for encounter – this is how Josef Nadj defines his work. He is not just a choreographer; he is an artist who knows no boundaries or barriers. Dancer, but also a visual artist and photographer with poetic and passionate vision of humanity, constantly in search of new forms and tirelessly willing to explore the deepest truths of human nature, Joseph Nadj has across his career, from Canard Pékinois (1987) to Penzum (2017), relentlessly pursued demanding and passionate choreography where gravity and compassion take turns, where depth and humor alternate. Oscillating between reality and fantasy, tradition and modernity, he explores the essential: the man’s relationship with himself. Because for Nadj, dance is fundamentally a humanist act. Drawing his inspiration from the depths of the great myths of humanity, passionately intertwining artistic disciplines and cultural references, Josef Nadj has created a universal language. From 1995 to 2016, he was the director of the Centre Chorégraphique National d’Orléans. Since 2017, he lives in Paris, working with his new company Atelier 3+1.

EnKnapGroup, led by its founder, the internationally renowned choreographer and dancer Iztok Kovač, is the only permanent contemporary dance company in Slovenia. Since 2009, this ensemble of remarkable dancers has been based at the Španski Borci Cultural Centre. Since its establishment ten years ago, EnKnapGroup has worked with over 30 Slovene and international choreographers and theatre directors, and created a repertoire of 26 full-evening stage works and a dance film. In addition to more than 50 performances in Slovenia per year, the company regularly tours internationally.

Choreography: Josef Nadj

Performers: EnKnapGroup – Luke Thomas Dunne (UK), Ana Štefanec Knez (SI), Jeffrey Schoenaers (BE), Lada Petrovski Ternovšek (HR), Matea Bilosnić (HR), Gilles Noël (BE)

Music: Csik Zenekar, Josef Nadj

Light design: Jaka Šimenc, Hotimir Knific (based on the concept by Josef Nadj)

Costume designer: Katarina Škaper (based on the concept by Josef Nadj)

Rehearsal Director: Nohemi Barriuso

Executive producer: Karmen Keržar

Stage manager: Jaka Šimenc

Technical team: Omar Ismail, Hotimir Knific

Photography and video: Andrej Lamut

Production: EN-KNAP Productions

Coproduction: Atelier 3+1

Programme Manager and Head of Productions: Marjeta Lavrič

EN-KNAPP Managing Director: Iztok Kovač


The programme of EN-KNAP is financially supported by the City of Ljubljana – Department of Culture, and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia.

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