Janez Janša

Rijeka 2020 - European Capital of Culture
Simona Semenčić / Milan Marković Matthis
Set designer:
Costume design:
Tajči Čekada
Blaž Zgaga
Stage manager:

10th July 2019 (Cancelled due to pandemic)

Co-production: Ballet and Croatian Drama of CNT Ivan pl. Zajc, non-governmental organisation Maska from Ljubljana and Steirischer Herbst Festival Graz

Why do all regimes like ballet? From aristocracy that created it, capitalism that packaged it, to socialism that installed it as the state art. What is it in ballet that is so attractive for authorities, power and dazzle of any origin, be it Russian, French, American or a smaller western and colonial or imperial one? The discipline that produces gracefulness? Discipline as a prerequisite of freedom? Discipline that on the one hand creates the order of a military parade, on the other a sublime ease of movement that arises from the laboriously trained body? Why, in spite of their universal language, are ballets national, in Croatia (and in many other countries)?
The story of ballet and its vicinity to the power of authorities, order and discipline is presented through the character of Nikša Župa, cultural manager from Split, dean of the Zagreb Academy of Dramatic Art and Artistic Director of the Ballet of the Slovene National Theatre in Ljubljana 1991-92. In this period, which some consider to be one of the most propulsive periods of the Ljubljana ballet, Župa became one of the most important arms dealers in the area of the former Yugoslavia, having organised a number of transports of arms, with the participation of high positioned state officials Župa co-operated with. After Ljubljana, his business took him from Ljubljana to Vienna, centre of the arms trade that was burdened with the United Nations embargo.
Was the Ljubljana Ballet an excellent disguise for the dangerous affairs that he skilfully separated from his passionate affection for the world of ballet? Why is it that the public, including the ballet and the wider theatre one, has never been concerned with what actually happened to Župa, an exceptionally esteemed manager? How did he enter the arms trade and why was the plane he flew in brought down? Why is his disappearance covered with such a veil of secrecy? The story is an interesting example of a deep immersion of art and culture into political and social matters.
The authors will base the narrative part of the story on the documentary presentation of the enigma on the affairs of Nikša Župa, while the choreography will have its starting position in the deep discipline and order inscribed in the very nature of the ballet production technology. Order and organisation of the body in space are the basis for a sublime production, something that is at the same time attractive and close, on the other hand something one should not come too close to.