CULTURE

Tribute to Chekhov from a crossover performance artist

Dance aficionados in Greece were first introduced to the work of Josef Nadj two years ago at the acclaimed Athens Festival. The French choreographer of Yugoslavian descent was back in Greece last year, meanwhile, to present his controversial and award-winning production «Woyzeck or The Hint of Vertigo,» which was based on the 1897 play by Georg Buchner, at the Kalamata International Dance Festival. Nadj seems to have found a niche in Greece as he’s planning to come back yet again, this time to appear at the Onassis Cultural Center from January 6-9, when he will present «Cherry-Brandy,» a piece that combines dance with two more of his talents, mime and narrative. The Yugoslav-born Nadj has a background in both the visual and performing arts, while he also worked as a circus performer and acrobat for years, as well as being a martial arts practitioner. These skills and bents have been combined in «Cherry-Brandy,» which is based on one of Anton Chekhov’s early plays. «Swan Song,» written in 1886-87, explores the link between memory and the past in a story about an aging comic actor pondering his career in an empty theater. The main character is seen late at night, slightly drunk and exhausted from his last performance and a party to celebrate the end of his 45-year career. Nadj’s interpretation of Chekhov’s words focuses on the concept of the «black box,» the machine that records flight data and which in «Cherry-Brandy» is represented by the dark, empty theater. In Nadj’s black box, the actor casts his mind back, revisiting the people and events that marked his life and the roles that he once embodied. Emotional strain and fear of what the future holds, mixed with the energy-draining process of looking back upon the past, begin to play on the aging actor’s mind, making him blur the lines between reality and fantasy, truth and fiction. Multicultural Nadj – he was born in 1957 in the Hungarian-speaking town of Vojvodina, now in Serbia, and then went on to study in Bucharest before settling in France – also serves as director of the National Orleans Center of Choreography in France. He created «Cherry-Brandy» for the 2010 Chekhov International Theater Festival in Moscow, which was dedicated to Franco-Russian collaboration. Onassis Cultural Center, 107-109 Syngrou, tel 2130.178.000. Ticket prices range from 15-52 euros (10-15 euros for children and students). They can be booked in advance by credit card on tel 210.900.5800.