Min Tanaka in the years 1985 - 1988 in Vlastimil Oli Helcl's photographs
19. 12. 2023
the end of the exhibition
from November 10 untill December 19
Min Tanaka often came to Czechoslovakia in the 1980s. It was not possible to perform officially, only secretly. Without media, advertising and all the other necessities of today. The news was spread in confidence among friends. Even so, it was always crowded. In Prague, Min performed at the Na Chmelnici club, which was one of the few islands of free art. On his second visit in 1985, I approached my friend Vlastimil Oli Helcl, who was then working at the Zbrašov Aragonite Caves in Teplice nad Bečvou, to arrange a performance by Tanaka and his Mai Juku group. Min and his dancers led the conspiratorially invited audience through the stone halls of the caves. In the rock crevices, on the cliffs, above the surface of the underground lakes, the dancers' bodies created images that touched our subconscious in a special way. The final scene took place in a huge dome at the deepest bottom of the caves. It was as if Min was saying to us, "You can live here too."
Three years later, Min Tanaka and the members of Mai Juku returned to Zbrašovské Caves. This time, the show began in the bowels of the cave. At its conclusion, the naked dancers led the audience out into the open space by the Bečva River, under the glowing tall trees. The year was 1988, the revolution was a year away, and we all felt then that the time had come to come out of the underground. In public!
Unique photographs discovered by Vlastimil Oli Helcl's family in his archive document not only the two performances in the caves but also the subsequent Mai Juku performances at the Na Chmelnici club.