Aneta Dortova

A native of Pilsen, Czech Republic, Aneta Dortova is a percussive dance and music teacher and a performer based in Galway, Ireland.

Image credit: Yamila Ape

Could you tell us a bit about your background as a dancer?

My background is in competitive Irish dancing and Sean-nós dancing. Prior to Irish traditional dance I’ve had played Irish music on various instruments. Knowing the music well helped me immensely to quickly understand the dance and it’s connection with the tunes. I moved to Galway from my hometown Plzeň to immerse myself in the trad music and dance scene. I started busking with various musicians right after my arrival and that lead to the creation of my own steps and my own unique style of step dance/percussive dance. My main objective when dancing is to connect and respond to the musical expression of the musician and the musician themselves and to use dance and music as a unique form of expressive language.

I’m also influenced and have been trained in many other forms of percussive and non percussive dance such as flamenco, tap dance, Quebecois step dancing, body percussion, contemporary dance, old style Irish dancing, set dancing, Scottish step dance, English clogging, Cape Breton step dancing, Ottawa Valley step dancing, Appalachian flat footing,…

Have any important opportunities have come your way? 

I think my most important opportunities have surprisingly happened during the pandemic. The first thing which came to mind is that I was able to successfully transition from teaching in person classes to teaching online. Before the pandemic I would have been teaching mostly beginner classes for tourists. Thanks to people all around the worlds being stuck at home, I managed to get private students from all around the world who wanted to really go all the way and learn percussive dance in detail.

The second very important thing was that myself and a friend of mine and a collaborator Emanuele De Simone were awarded the Covid Response Award from the Arts Council Ireland to record an album. Our album ‘’Tunes of the Travelling Dance Masters’’ was released in December 2020.

The last thing I’m going to mention was receiving a commission to create a dance film for the Leitrim Dance Festival.

Those three things allowed me to learn so much during the year and a half of the pandemic and pushed me to create.

Image credit: Patricie Slauf 

Why is DI membership important to you? Have you made any connections through your membership?

Initially I got my DI membership to be able to attend morning classes for professionals. After receiving my membership I found out about all the other ways DI provides help, support and advocacy for dance artists in Ireland. Through my participation in professional morning classes I also managed to meet amazing artists as well as human beings.

Being a foreigner in the traditional arts scene has been quite tough for me. The trad scene has a tendency to be very cliquey. It’s difficult to make a space for yourself and you’re often excluded based on being new in the country and not having enough influential connections. It also doesn’t really have an organisation which would function in a similar way as DI, therefore it is really difficult to actually find and connect with like-minded artists in the scene. You end up mostly having to create opportunities for yourself, by yourself. DI gave me a feeling that I’m not entirely alone and that if I feel stuck, I can contact them and will receive help and guidance with understanding and without prejudice.

What’s next in your dance journey?

I am about to start studying the MA in Contemporary Dance Performance at the University of Limerick.

Image credit: Yamila Ape