Dark union

In 2017, Iztok Kovač, the EN-KNAP Group artistic director, extended his invitation to Nadj in hopes to see a revived version of Nadj’s first choreography, the legendary Canard pékinois (1987). Later, when Nadj met the six dancers, it became clear to him that he wants to pursue the idea of isolating a single motive from the original work and thus making it possible to express different variations of a tragic and dark union. After the 30-minute version of the piece has premiered in June 2017, we were pleasantly surprised when Nadj approached us with a wish to continue to work with our dancers and make a full-evening performance. That is how the latest EN-KNAP production was born – Dark union. This is definitely an exceptional compliment to EN-KNAP Group, to our mature, versatile artistic expression, as well as our physical ability.

For choreographer Josef Nadj, frequently described by the media as a stage magician, the revival of his first piece represents a birth of a new creative cycle – for the first time in his career he is stepping of the stage, behind the scenes and away from the stage lights, to give way to these six young interpreters. At the heart of Dark Union is a tragic story of newlyweds who only manage to live a few fleeting moments of happiness before the impermanence of life steps between them. Nadj and the dancers try to evoke the gloomy emotion accompanying this sad relationship, which became almost legendary in his home town. The event that Josef witnessed as a child acts like a projection in his choreography serves as a metaphor for the passing of time and eventually leads us to the beyond. Nadj sees this new work as an opportunity for the new generation to face the core subjects of the story. Interestingly enough, the new piece is much shorter than the original work, while its topic has become much wider – as if one wanted to immortalize the moment for eternity. Based on a personal story which transcends the subjective and, through artistic transformation, becomes an intimate mythology blossoming 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 time machine. I did not anticipate returning to the beginning of my 30-year long career. It was Iztok Kovač, who invited me to collaborate with EN-KNAP, that ignited the spark in me to look back and try and find the essence of my earliest work once more. It was only with time and emotional distance that I understood what the essence of the piece actually is – in 1987 I wanted to tell a story that I experienced in my native Kanjiža, but now I realize that it was about this crystallized motive, which I portray in the revised version of the performance and which is, in fact, timeless. Consequently, the essence of the piece is able to manifest itself with incredible ease in this new reality, 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 and to include all my new experiences and gained knowledge. Its motive is charged with energy and this fact is manifest throughout the dance material. What we did with EN-KNAP Group 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, both mentally and physically speaking. That was what made this encounter work.« (Josef Nadj)


Understanding dance above all as a site for encounter – this is how Josef Nadj defines his work. Beyond his role as choreographer the man is in fact an artist without borders and without barriers. Dancer, but also visual artist and photographer, his vision of humanity is poetic and passionate.

Constantly in search of new forms. Ceaselessly willing to explore humanity as close as possible to human truth. Across his career, from Canard pékinois (1987) to Penzum (2017), Josef Nadj has relentlessly pursued exigent and passionate choreography where gravity and compassion take turns, where depth and humour alternate. Whether he is visiting atypical authors (Beckett, Kafka, Michaux) or bringing painting along on stage with him (in performance with Miquel Barceló), Josef Nadj flourishes in complete corporal freedom.  Oscillating between reality and fantasy, tradition and modernity, he explores the essential: man’s relationship with himself. Because for Nadj, dance is fundamentally a humanist act.

Over the years, the works of Josef Nadj have become references in contemporary dance. Beyond his national influence (Carte Blanche at the Grande Halle de La Villette in Paris in 2014; Associated Artist at the 2006 Avignon Festival that officially designated him as “creator without borders”), his work is recognized and celebrated around the globe. Enthusiastically received in nearly 50 countries, more than 400,000 audience members across five continents have appreciated his works in the most important international venues. Drawing his inspiration from the depths of the great myths of humanity, passionately intertwining both artistic disciplines and cultural references, Josef Nadj is elaborating a universal language. From 1995 to 2016, Josef Nadj has been director of the Centre Chorégraphique National d’Orléans. Since 2017, he living in Paris and working with his new company Atelier 3+1.


Choreography: Josef Nadj
Performing:  EN-KNAP Group - Luke Thomas Dunne (Great Britain), Ana Štefanec Knez (Slovenia), Jeffrey Schoenaers (Belgium), Lada Petrovski Ternovšek (Croatia), Matea Bilosnić (Croatia), Gilles Noël (Belgium)
Music: Csik Zenekar, Josef Nadj
Light design: Jaka Šimenc and Hotimir Knific (Based on the concept of Josef Nadj)
Costumes: Katarina Škaper (Based on the concept of Josef Nadj)
Rehearsal Director: Nohemi Barriuso

Executive producer: Karmen Keržar
Translation: Jure Škerl, Nina Smerkol
Technical coordinator: Jaka Šimenc
Technical team of Španski borci/EN-KNAP (Leon Curk, Gal Škrjanec Skaberne, Omar Ismail, Hotimir Knific, Aleksander Plut, Špela Škulj)
Costumes manufactured by: Atelje d.o.o.
Photography and video: Andrej Lamut
Design: nejaaka
Public relations and editing: Nina Smerkol
Marketing:  Goran Pakozdi
Financial Manager: Julija Travančić
Programme Organiser and Coordinator: Zala Česnik
Španski Borci Cultural Centre Director, EN-KNAP Productions - Programme Manager and Head of Productions: Marjeta Lavrič
EN-KNAP Productions Managing Director, Španski Borci Cultural Centre Artistic Director: Iztok Kovač

Production: EN-KNAP Production
Coproduction: Atelier 3+1