On communication through art & dance—where no words are needed
(Note: The interview text has been translated from the Czech language.)
To start with, I personally recommend for you to hit the play button below on one of Kriss’ tracks on SoundCloud, they go effortlessly well with the dynamic of the story.
On a sunny Spring afternoon, Kristián and I sat down on a bench at Petřínské sady (where I witnessed Kriss’ first time trying Angelato!), surrounded by people walking by, and the sounds of birds singing. The two of us are, in fact, no strangers to one another. We attended drama classes together years ago, arranged a spontaneous meeting in New York last summer, and danced through a House open class at the Broadway Dance Center. However, the timing of this interview is not at all by chance as Kristián, aka Kriss, a 19-year-old breakdancer from Prague, has quite recently made it to the live finals of Juste Debout, an international dance competition taking place in Paris. Back when I myself was a part of a dance group, the possibility of taking part in Juste Debout sounded like a myth; and an ultimately unreachable goal.
Then on March 7, 2017, Kristián posted a video on his Facebook profile, and my mind was blown for good.
Kriss’ performance in the United States.
Kriss did not end up winning the ‘Experimental’ category, but he did get to represent his country in one of the most prestigious dance events in the world. “The experience itself was unimaginable. Completely different. It wasn’t an ordinary jam, I could feel that, in that place, dance takes an entirely new shape. Thousands of people were on the same wavelength; music would start playing, and all of their heads started to move to the rhythm.”
With his precise listening skills, he has the ability to present the music through his movement, sometimes even revealing a layer of a song that the observer/listener may have been unaware of prior to Kristián’s interpretation. “I perceive dance as a form of expression. Self-expression. I’m not much of a talkative person, therefore, I use the arts or dance in order to voice my opinion or offer my point of view. Dance presents me with the ability to talk without having to say a word.”
“After a dance practice, or after my dancing at home, I feel as if I’m a plant that fully blossoms, my mind just seems to work endlessly.”
As if dance was not enough success at Kriss’ young age, he has also gained recognition as an illustrator, having been featured on media outlets, such as Bored Panda or the Huffington Post. “They’re all based on one idea—that I take one thing and make it into something different by connecting two things that seemingly cannot be merged.”
Source of the illustrations.
“Naturally, I look up to world-renowned painters, such as Van Gogh, Picasso, Egon Schiele or Monet. But there are also illustrators, for example, Saul Steinberg or Tomi Ungerer. There is one book from Austin Kleon, it’s called Steal Like an Artist, and it says that if you get inspired by just one person, you’re stealing from him, however, if you take a little something from several different sources, your art basically becomes original.”
During his 10-month educational stay in the United States, he realised what a powerful tool social media can be when he published his illustrations to Instagram. Gradually, he gained more and more online supporters. When asked about his choice of online representation, he says, “That’s what Austin Kleon talks about in his second book—Show Your Work—that there are two extremes: artists who only take pictures of their work, and artists who only publish photos of their faces, taken by their smartphone’s front camera. Austin says that it’s important to find the right balance. Leave space for some elements of surprise. If I was to publish something right now, people would expect it to be an illustration. Austin also said another thing I enjoyed, that when a creator is not yet “well-known”, and no one is following him, he really gets to experiment with the content.”
To sum it all up, Kriss harbours about a dozen of various talents and simultaneously works on improving all of them. “I feel as if my hobbies all complement one another, that what can’t be found in dancing can be discovered in piano playing. It’s better not to focus solely on one thing, but rather to experience multiple various activities.”
As he walks away in a nylon sweatshirt he bought for 30 CZK at a second-hand store, I can’t help but think back on the quiet boy in my theatre classes, who would at all times stay humble and thankful. In that sense, Kriss hasn’t really changed at all.
All images come from Kristián’s personal archives.
Written by Huyen Vi Tranová.