Bretoncaffe Theatre was founded in Warsaw in 2001, by Sławomir Krawczyński, director and writer, Anna Godowska, dancer and choreographer, and Dominik Strycharski, multi-instrumentalist and musician. Two years later (2003) Anita Wach, former dancer of the Kielce Dance Theatre and Silesian Dance Theatre in Bytom, joined the group. They are the core of the group today. Moreover, the group collaborated with musicians, dancers, choreographers and actors including Krzysztof Skolimowski, Jacek Owczarek, Daniel Radtke and currently – Tomasz Wygoda, Przemysław Wasilkowski and Łukasz Lewandowski. The group’s debut The Mirror. We’d Been There One Day, But We Just Had Enough Time to Forget was awarded one of the main prizes at the 8th National Competition for Staging of Polish Contemporary Performance (2002). Two of the latest Bretoncaffe performances, Dancing Sarah Kane and Topinambur, took part in the Polish Dance Platform in Poznań (2008, 2010).
In its creative work, Bretoncaffe combines various areas, such as contemporary dance and movement, hip-hop and jazz dance, acting, performance, music and lyrics. The theatre’s multi-material character is reflected in the name of the group, referring to the works of French surrealist, André Breton (founder of the movement). This translates into free mixing of the means of expression and their collage character. The group runs activities in three fields: art, research and education. As the artists say “these fields harmonise, based on common ideas, beliefs, passions, questions and experiments concerning both art and life.” A research project entitled Dance of a dreaming body run by the group since 2004 made it possible. Its goal is to introduce Arnold Mindell’s process-oriented psychology (POP) into the practice of dance and theatre. This is the first undertaking of its kind in Poland, as POP methodology has never been applied to artistic creation in this field before. In its wider context, the group’s project was also inspired by Carl Gustav Jung’s works. Dance of a dreaming body has been carried out in collaboration with the Academy of Process-Oriented Psychology in Warsaw. Since 2006, most of the group’s performances have been created in consultation with the Academy's founders Agnieszka Wróblewska and Tomasz Teodorczyk.
Mindrell's POP, one of the officially recognised methods of psychotherapy, put the emphasis on experiences of the body, combining the individual and the collective. Analysis of one’s own experiences in relation to threshold experiences becomes a tool for researching wider cultural and social phenomena. Similar tendencies can be observed in Bretoncaffe’s creative work, in particular in Dancing Sarah Kane and Me, Agaue. The main working method of POP is amplification of symptoms through movement or other perceptive channels. Bretoncaffe focuses in particular on strengthening of body movements, what has resulted in its characteristic choreographic style, based on enhancing and cumulating small gestures and developing them into larger movement phrases and dance sequences. Structure of the performances is based on looping repetitions and putting down the movement.
Apart from performances, Bretoncaffe artists take part in work presentations, during which fragments of choreographies are supplemented with lectures, explaining their method of working and inspirations. In this way, the group gives an insight into the behind-the-scenes process of creation, but also reverses the direction of its vector – what is already made goes back to work in progress, or even to in statu nascendi, it starts to be created once again. These presentations have therefore an educational aspect, but also they help the audience to understand the group's specificity – even though Bretoncaffe's performances are created as ready choreographies, the work on performance is not actually finished with the premiere (Dion.is.us, which turned out to be a prelude to Me, Agaue, is the perfect example here). To date, such presentations took place at the Body/Mind International Contemporary Dance Festival and the Warszawa jest kobietą (Warsaw is a woman) festival. The group has run dance and music workshops (e.g. at Wytwórnia Tańca in the former Wytwórnia Theatre), during which elements of POP are explained to the participants.
During 10 years of work, Bretoncaffe Theatre has produced more than 10 performances, many of which were awarded prizes at Polish festivals. For instance Slam.in was awarded at the 2006 International Presentations of Contemporary Dance Forms in Kalisz. The theatre has represented Poland abroad – in France, Germany, Estonia, Croatia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. The artists took part in numerous international projects, including those organised by the Centre national de la danse, THEOREM, or the Choreographisches Centrum NRW in Essen, , Centrum Le Manege Mons in Belgium.
The operations of the company have been suspended for the moment.