founder and artistic director of 420PEOPLE
Born in Prague on May 19, 1975
After graduating from the Dance Conservatory in Prague in 1993, Václav Kuneš joined the Nederlands Dans Theater 2. In 1998 he became a member of the main company, the NDT 1 where he danced, under the artistic supervision of Jiří Kylián, until 2004. During more than a decade at the NDT, he had the opportunity to work with a number of world renown choreographers, among them Ohad Naharin, William Forsythe, Paul Lightfoot, Mats Ek, Nacho Duato, Johan Inger, Andre Gingras or Hans van Manen. With Kylián’s company he toured around major venues and dance meccas around the world.
In 2004 he goes freelance. Among his subsequent collaborations the one with Saburo Teshigawara especially stands out, extending from 2005 to 2006. Kuneš danced in a number of Teshigawara’s choreographies staged for the New National Theatre in Tokyo. In 2005 he was shortlisted for the Dancer of the Year award in Cannes for his appearance in Teshigawara’s Scream and Whisper.
He is a regular guest at gala shows in Europe (Roberto Bolle & friends), the US and Japan. He was cast for Last Touch First (choreographed by Kylián and Schumacher), a piece produced by the Holland Dance Festival. From 2012 to 2014, he was on Sylvie Guillem’s gala program 6000 miles away.
He enacted the young Nijinsky in My Madness is My love – Impressions of Vaslav Nijinsky, a film produced by the Finnish Dance Foundation.
Since 2004 he has worked as assistant choreographer with Jiří Kylián, staging his choreographies for theatres around Europe, among them Basel Ballet, the Finnish National Ballet, the National Theatre’s Ballet in Prague, the Polish National Ballet, Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf, La Scala’s Ballet in Milan or the Norwegian National Ballet.
The list of his own choreographic work includes pieces for the Nederlands Dans Theater 2, the Copenhagen International Ballet, Korzo Theatre in the Hague (a tour around the Netherlands in 2008) and the Netherlands production house Station Zuid (a 2009 tour around the country with a feature production Ghost Note) as well as Temporary Condition for the State Opera in Bordeaux in 2010. His choreography Small Hour was staged at the Dominic Walsh Dance Theater in Houston, US, and the Skanes Dansteater in Malmö (2011 and 2013 respectively). In 2015, he creates Phantom DanceOne for the Hessisches Staatstheater in Wiesbaden, Germany.
In 2014-2017, a number of 420PEOPLE’s works were presented in Japan and so were three Kuneš’ recent pieces, among them Double variation, La Mantovana and the newest production Echo, created on music from iconic Czech composers Smetana and Dvořák, with a live performance of the symphonic orchestra. Echo was presented at the opening of the new municipal theatre in the city of Ota. In 2017, Kuneš choreographed Recall, a piece made to measure for former 420PEOPLE dancers, now running their company OPTO File.
In 2007, he founds 420PEOPLE in his home town Prague, together with Nataša Novotná, assuming the position of the company’s artistic director until today.
Small Hour, the first choreography created for the company, was shortlisted for a number of important awards - in 2008 it was awarded the Theatre Institute Award. Within a co-production initiative with the Netherlands theatre Korzo, Kuneš creates a feature performance A Small Hour Ago. The piece opened in November 2009 at the Holland Dance festival in the Hague and toured around the country in 2011.
His other pieces for 420PEOPLE include Golden Crock, Affordance and REEN (with a live appearance of musician Amos Ben-Tal) that were programmed at the Centre National de la Danse in Paris (2011) or the New National Theatre in Tokyo. In collaboration with the Drama Department of the National Theatre, he has co-created, together with director David Prachař, a feature-length piece inspired by the canonic Czech poem May.
In May 2012, he expands the company’s repertory with Wind-up, a success-to-be production that remains on the repertory until today.
The following work Mirage (2013) is a feature-length production drawing inspiration from stand-up comedy, its recent version features the eminent actor Chantal Poullain. The season 2014-2015 sees 420PEOPLE present INFERNO - Variations on Dante, a production directed by Jan Nebeský (shortlisted for the Theatre Journal Award), Phrasing the Pain choreographed for the company by Ann van der Broek, Phantom DanceOne co-produced by the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden, a Czech version of Jo Strømgren’s famous piece A Dance Tribute ti Ping Pong and Best of, a joint project with the band Please the Trees. 2016 welcomes a new production Paradiso with original music written by the Canadian composer Owen Belton.
2017 kicked off with a celebration of the tenth anniversary of the company: two Gala shows sold out at the New Stage of the National Theatre in Prague. The celebrations continued with a premiere of Fairy Queen at Experimental Space NoD, a piece accompanied by live music of the band Zabelov. The pinnacle of the anniversary year came with Nomad, a piece co-produced by one of the biggest names of the international choreographic scene currently, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and his company Eastmen. The joint project entitled Nomad opened in June at theatre Jatka78.
The end of the summer 2017 brought another round of a collaboration Kuneš/420PEOPLE/Jan Nebeský, the result being Ovidius: Orfeus at Vila Štvanice in Prague. The festival Golden Prague screened a dance film Closed, a Jo Strømgren’s production featuring Nataša Novotná and Václav Kuneš. The film also got to the program of Berlinale 2017.
An important part of 420PEOPLE's agenda has always been widening the horizons of the Czech audience. This quest has made them bring a great number of major artists to Prague, among them Abou Lagraa, Ohad Naharin, Crystal Pite, Jiří Kylián, Michael Schumacher, Saburo Teshigawara, Talia Paz, Jo Strømgren, Ann Van den Broek and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.
420PEOPLE regularly perform abroad, the past few years saw the company tour around France, Spain, Sweden, Poland, Germany, South Korea, Russia, Slovakia, Cyprus, Mexico, Italy, Serbia, Netherlands, Finland, Norway, Japan and the Fringe in Edinburgh with a series of 10 shows.