Most of those who have spent the last years in Brno agree that the city has changed – in a positive way. Inflow of new and international talent in both academia and research and development has reshaped the city. And yet, there are other areas which, as if by a whip of a magic wand, manage to change Brno from a sleeping beauty into a multicultural diva.
Every year the world comes to town during big cultural festivals: foreign musicians, dancers and actors stir up and revive the local scene. What many don’t realize, however, is that an equally exciting multicultural world of artists can be found right in the heart of Brno all year round.
I fell in love with ballet through my dear friend Camille, an Australian ballerina who spent twelve years working in the Czech Republic (last five in Brno), got her Czech citizenship and only a few months after that moved back to Sydney. Until I met her I had not quite realized just how international the Brno world of tutus and leotards really is.
The dancers in National Theatre Brno come from all the corners of the earth: EU, naturally, but also Russia, Belarus, Serbia, Australia, Brazil, USA, Japan or JAR. As a result, foreigners form 65 % of the current ballet ensemble. Per capita, this makes the Brno ballet company the most international one in the country.
It was exciting to meet the dancers during one of their practice sessions and find out more about their life in Brno. Feeling like little Alice getting lost in Wonderland, I went through a simple door in Dvořákova street, climbed a few sets of stairs and, finally, entered rehearsal rooms full of buzz and music mixed with an unbelievable, almost Babylon-like tangle of all kinds of languages: Spanish, French, English, Czech, Czenglish, Franglais…
It seemed as if, for quite a while, actually, all roads had been leading to Brno instead of good old Rome. And for various reasons: Natasha (Serbia) was going with the flow of her work contracts, Vincent (France) was in love with classical ballet that Brno is famous for.
Ballet is of course the greatest hobby of these dancers. If they have some free time in between all the rehearsals and performances, they also enjoy local wellness centres and strolls along the Brno lake or the city center, especially St. Jacob’s square.
You can also often meet this “ballet gang” in cafés – their favourite are Fratelli, Kafec or Bistro Franz. Some of the dancers also study: either languages through practice with their colleagues if there is no time for university, as Martin from Brno pointed out, or via distance at a foreign university, like Camille who does law.
As for their day-to-day life in Brno, although the services still lack a little and some locals seem rather dubious, even hostile when they meet a foreigner, in general they see the Moravians as lovely. Brno feels easy and, according to Patrick, a visiting dance teacher from London, this city truly has particular warmth to it unlike anywhere else.
Maybe because everything is so close, this (to Allessandro from Italy really a small) town feels great and very friendly. Even friendlier than their home countries such as France or Italy, surprisingly. Florant (France) sums the overall feeling: Brno is a city with a certain “je ne sais pas quoi” – a charm difficult to explain. But it certainly feels like home.
Keep an eye on the ballet programme at http://www.ndbrno.cz/ballet!
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