Igor Jelen: IGEN: Celje, Slovenia

Photo:  Zoran Lesic

Choreographer:  Igor Jelen

Company: IGEN

Website: www.igen.si

Artist Statement/Philosophy/Mission Statement:
Just as the music is the gift of gods, the dance is the gift of angels. Body language is universal language, a language without political or any other borders. Slovenian dancers travel around the world without translators and excellently play the role of cultural ambassadors. Art of movement, "language" of expressions and dance dynamics sometimes tell more than the river of words. DANCE THEATER IGEN from Celje excites the worlds dance stages for over three decades, and who celebrates its anniversary by working even more.

Short Artist/Company Bio:

Igor Jelen is an artistic director of Dance Theater IGEN. He was given by the Slovenian government the status of independent artist (dance choreographer), which is given only to the best artist in the particularly field of art in Slovenia. From 1990 to 1998 he worked in Ministry of Culture. His works were performed all over the world in more than 50 countries. He finished his dance education at Laban Dance school in London and since then he was working for the main theatres in Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina as a choreographer. He was awarded several times for his fresh and modern choreographies, main awards are:
Third award in Jarmila Jerabkova competition in Prague 2002
Second award and special award of the audience in Tokyo's Dance Platform in 2001
First award and gold medal in UBUS Belgrade in 2000
Special award at Moscow's dance competition in 1998 and 1999
Alpe Adria Udine, gold medal and special award for artistic achievements in 1998
The second award at Austria Open competition in 1997
Alpe Adria Udine, silver medal in 1997
The Prešernova award - Slovenian national award for best artists
First award and gold medal of Kosta Abraševič in Croatia
Award in Cuba Dance festival
Award in Yalta Dance festival
Award in Holland Dance festival
Special award on Dance festival in Madrid
Special award on Dance festival in Turkey
Special award on Dance festival in Hungary
Special award on Dance festival in Poland
First prizes from 1983-2003 on Slovenian days of dancing competition
International competition of Choreographic arts, Lodz, Polland, 2009 (jury: Vladimir Malakhov, Oliver Patey and Larisa Barykina)
Award for the best drama concept for the performance The Lady of the camellias in Sarajevo Teaterfest

Studio for Dance Celje (SFDC) and Dance Theater IGEN (DTI) was established in 1980. His founder and art director Igor Jelen dedicated his life to dance. His main aim was to develop modern and contemporary dance in former Yugoslavia. IGEN was the first group and school in Slovenia and Yugoslavia, which started >shocking people< with avant-garde ideas and performances. Within 30 years of dancing and teaching young dancers, it raised many professional dancers and actors, who contributed significant part to development of contemporary dance and culture in Slovenia and broader environment.
Dance Theater IGEN is a professional unit of Studio for Dance Celje. It intensively focuses on contemporary expressional artistic dance. Our work with youth and international prizes we won are a proof that efforts of IGEN in promoting contemporary dance of Slovenia were not in vain.
Number of their choreographies were rewarded and filmed for several domestic and foreign TV stations. A number of productions were made for art program of Slovenian national television. Choreographer Igor Jelen swears to engaged shows that suck in the viewer with their message and active character. "Dance isn't just a movement on the stage. It is a lot more. It is life, laughter, crying, war and peace, love and hate, hunger and wealth, happiness and sadness.Audience has to feel it, otherwise we didn't do our mission." His choreographies equally include elements of drama play, ballet and contemporary expressionist dance.

DANCE THEATRE IGEN is slovenian world cultural ambassador. Countries and cities of hosting are:
Austria (Klagenfurt, Graz, Vienna), Belgium (Bornem, Brussels), Bulgaria (Varna, Sofia, Bourgas), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sarajevo, Tuzla, Tjentište), Canada (Montreal, Toronto, Niagara), Croatia (Zagreb, Dubrovnik,, , Holland (Haag, Amsterdam, Leerdam), Hungary (Budapest, Keckemet), Italy (Udine, Trieste, Venice, Modena, Ferrara, Reggio Emillio, Bologna,Gorica, Opcine, Rimini), Japan (Tokyo), Korea (Seoul), Macedonia (Sv.Naum, Ohrid, Skopje, Gevgelija)Malta (Valeta), Maroko (Rabat, Efes, Casablanca), Monte Negro (Budva, POdgorica), North Cyprus (Nicosia, Lefkosa, Gecitkale), Poland (Wroclav, Warszaw, Konin, Lodz), Romania (Bucharest), Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg), Scotland (Aberdeen), Slovakia (Bratislava), South Cyprus (Limasol), Spain, Madrid, Barcelona, Gironna, Sitges), Turkey (Ankara, Anatolia, Istanbul, Efes, Isomer), Ukraine (Jalta, Kiev), USA (North Carolina, New York City), Venezuela (Caracas, San Cristobal, Teacher), Serbia (Belgrade,Zemuno, Novi Sad, Valjevo).

Describe some of your achievements over the course of the last five years:
Dance Theater IGEN was always an important guest of dance festivals all over the world. In its 28 years of living on the world's stages it has promoted and expressed artistic thoughts in more than 40 countries including USA, Scotland, Cyprus, Malta, France, Spain, Japan, and South Korea. We also attended many important international competitions and achieved great success: Alpe-Adria Undine: 1st price; UBUS Belgreade: 1st prize, Dance Platform Tokyo: 2nd prize. We have done performances (Duma, Room 336, Three.Sisters.) and short choreographic works (Rhythm, Whipser, Memories of Evita Peron) for different local and national TV stations in Slovenia ((RTS, TVC, VTV) and also for TV stations from other countries like: RTV SERBIA, ATV TURKEY and NEDERLAND.) For our efforts in promotion of dance and Slovenia around the world, we have been awarded the PreŠernova prize from the Slovenian government.
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What do you hope to gain from the experience of participating in this festival?
Dance Theater IGEN has only once performed in the USA. Our goal is to show our artistic vision also in your beautiful festival. There is a big lack in the dance world and society in collaboration between artist in the USA and Europe, and especially between Slovenia, which is a very small country. Our work is still not well recognized. Also, we do not know a lot about the performing arts in the USA

Have you participated in other festivals or showcases?

If so – what were elements you enjoyed and what areas do you think could have been improved on?

We enjoyed every single part of the festivals.

What Igor will be bringing to the Conference

Lady of the Camellias

Number of Dancers: Two

Short Description of the Dance: IGEN will be presenting Lady of the Camellia’s. A stunning duet that has toured globally with its United States debut occurring here in Santa Barbara! This work is a short choreographic composition based on a reinterpretation of literary work Lady of the Camellias of Alexandre Dumas the junior. Young and beautiful courtesans is facing with her identity, the prejudices that come from the environment, with memories, body, disease and soul, which lead to its end – a tragic death.  The work will be shown as a free post-performance event augmenting the Omega Program at Center Stage Theater.