Maja Delak: What If


Maja Delak: Kaj če / What If foto/photo by: Nada Žgank


And then I realised
I have to work more
And then I realised
there is no future
And then I realised
it would be easier if I were a boy
And then I realised
I work out of pleasure
And then I realised
I am ashamed
And then I realised

my body clearly and decidedly sets its own limits

What If …
we lived differently? What if – we didn't? What If is a performance about not living differently. It is a performance about how time measures out the rhythm of our lives; how instability and hyperproductivity dictate the rhythm of work and how resistance often frames the rhythm of feeling. What If is a solo of a dancer and a solo about a dancer; it is a dance solo about what the body is capable of doing and what not (any more). It is a dance solo about the exposure and vulnerability of all bodies. What If is a performance about an insecure, unstable and vulnerable situation the dancer on stage is pushed into, the body of a dancer at work, the body of a dancer in life, who is continuing her investigation of the intersection between the body, gender and society, while critically addressing production conditions of contemporary dance (and art in general), which are the ongoing themes of Maja Delak's work.

And then I realised
I would come to the same conclusions
Also if I didn't do art. 

Technical rider


Created and performed by: Maja Delak
Music: Luka Prinčič
Texts: Saša Rakef, Maja Delak
Dramaturgy: Katja Čičigoj
Scenography:  Irena Pivka
Costumes: Urška Recer
Programming: Jakob Leben, Luka Prinčič
Light design: Urška Vohar
Graphic design: Saša Kerkoš
Translations: Katja Kosi, Nataša Živković
Photographer: Nada Žgank
Executive producers: Saša Rakef, Nina Janež


Production: Emanat
Co-production: Festival City of Women, Dance Theater Ljubljana
In collaboration: Bunker / Old Power Station
Partner: Dance and nonverbal theater Festival Svetvincenti, Mediterranean Dance Center
Financial support: Ministry of Culture RS, City Municipality of Ljubljana


… The performance What If that premiered in this year’s City of Women Festival unfolds around the question of what happens to a professional dancer’s body when it looses its youth. The renowned Slovene dancer, choreographer, performer and pedagogue, the recipient of the Prešeren Fund and the Golden Bird Awards, investigates the relation of society toward the body, ageing and at once her relation to what surrounds her, to society’s expectations and demands. While Delak’s performance is in places entirely static and then again extremely dynamic and ecstatic, she is playing with different prescribed and suggested ways of living, confronting us with unnecessary adjustments to certain representations of acceptability. With Luka Prinčič’s music in the background, Delak, in magical harmony with her body, performs mental patterns and prejudice that thwart life. Her naturally beautiful bodily posture and movement inspire the space which is slowly becoming permeated with the idea that the world is actually a movement sound composition.
RTV Slovenia, The News, Saška Aleksandra Gruden,  4th October 2013

… And if the author is confronting us with an image of fear and the more bitter shades of the present, where time again and again cuts through the female body, this is nevertheless an experience of how everything passes and changes, which is actually something we all share and can recognize – as if the dancer has placed in front of us a reflection not only of ourselves but of the world itself.
Radio Student, What if, Simona Jerala, 8th October 2013

She's recalling the past, the future 
Time is consuming her being-in 
while she's quietly monitoring her body 
commenting, commenting 
Without notice she's leaving us 
though she's still there 
using her featherless wings and legs 
her exposed waistline, the covered face 
to show us her grace
Letting out a cry - wildly penetrating 
Breathing loudly as if to say: 
I'm speaking the language of the whole body 
not just the tongue, the lips, the throat 
Listen to my voice 
City of Women blog, To Maja Delak What if, Ann-Sofie Öman (Covering the City of Women festival for the Swedish magazine Danstidningen ), 4th October 2013

What If?, Maja Delak’s meditation on the aging body - the aging female body to be specific - and all the ways it fails us, is arresting. 
City of Women blog, On What If by Maja Delak,  Shannon Cochrane, 9th October, 2013


What If is an extremely powerful performance created by Maja Delak, known for her strong authorial gestures already from her previous work. The distinctive quality of this performance lies in its enormously important personal gesture, which is enacted so deliberately that it never becomes sentimental, which is always structured, and so on. What If is actually a political performance, insofar it speaks about the position of a woman artist and woman dance maker; however, its theme is delivered in a very intimate, direct, and touching manner. Another important issue is the position of a woman artist in her mature years, when the body is no longer capable of coping with all the stresses and strains inflicted on it. The way Maja Delak addresses this sharp political note, coupled with a very personal and intimate delivery, is in my opinion really exceptional. We have seen this already in her performance Expensive Darlings, which was one of the key performances of the time and actually one of the first to tackle the precarious position of women artists. In her later works, Delak has been developing her specific authorial poetic, which literally expands dance not only into a language, but appropriates it through a very powerful authorial gesture, very powerful statement that is not necessarily or always delivered with the body. I find this very unique and uncommon, not only in the Slovene space. At the same time, it should be noted that Maja Delak's work always involves a specific feminist note, which I appreciate a lot, because it is exceptionally rare.
The performance functions as a performative whole. Its ascetic set design has a very functional and also formal role in it – basically it adds another dramaturgical element to the performance.
03.03.2015, RTV SLO, ARS, 7. Gibanica, bienale slovenske sodobne plesne umetnosti, Petra Tanko in dialogue with Bojana Kunst and Sabina Potočki

Dance performance of the year (2015)
What If? by Saša Rakef and Maja Delak (choreographed and performed by Maja Delak; produced by Emanat Institute; coproduced by City of Women Festival and Dance Theatre Ljubljana in cooperation with Bunker, Old Power Station). A painful and razor-sharp commentary on the vulnerable position of a dance artist and the situation of contemporary dance in our society. An exemplary dance performance presented at the 7th edition of Gibanica – Biennial of Slovenian Dance.
31.01.2016, Parada plesa, Vrhunci slovenskega plesa 2015, Niko Goršič



04.10.2013, Blog City of Women, Ann-Sophie Oman, To Maja Delak What If 
09.10.2013, Blog City of Women , Shannon Cochrane, On What If by Maja Delak
03.02.2014, Kaj če / What If / Maja Delak (SLO), Prague.TV
14.02.2014, Tanecni Aktuality, Lucie Kocourková, Zpověď slovinské tanečnice vyvolala řadu otázek
15.02.2014, Danstidningen 1/2014, Ann-Sophie Oman, Var tids drommar och mardrommar
23.03.2014, Společný projekt Duncan Centra a lublaňských studentů tance, Tanečni aktuality
29.03.2014, Východisko jako zpověď o archetypech, Karolína Vojáčková, Artikl
23.02.2015,, Ingrid Tuerk-Chlapek, Tiefgang – vielfalt – hoehenflug
22.04.2016, Maska, Festival of diferencies, Pia Brezavšček



City of Women
Nova deViator
Prepih (see English text below)
Festival of dance and non-verbal theater

Previous events

  1. , Stara mestna elektrarna Elektro Ljubljana, SI
  2. , Rdeči revirji, Delavski dom Trbovlje, SI
  3. , Gibanica, SMEEL, Ljubljana, SI
  4. , Stara mestna elektrarna Elektro Ljubljana, SI
  5. , Delavski dom Trbovlje, SI (prestavljeno/postponed)
  6. , Alfred ve Dvoře, Prague, CZ
  7. , Stara mestna elektrarna Elektro Ljubljana, SI
  8. , Stara mestna elektrarna Elektro Ljubljana, SI
  9. , MuCEM, Marseille-Provence 2013, FR
  10. , Stara mestna elektrarna Elektro Ljubljana, SI
  11. , Stara mestna elektrarna Elektro Ljubljana, SI