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The “Encyclopaedia of Competitive Dance in Slovakia 1957 – 2017” is a book of Olympic proportions.
For starters it’s 758 pages long. It also weighs 3.5 kilograms and took author Petr Horáček and photographer Jozef Harangozó six-and-a-half years to complete.
So perhaps it’s not entirely surprising that the book was recently named “best publication promoting sport and Olympic ideas” during the 57th General Assembly of the Slovak Olympic and Sports Committee (SOŠV).
Nevertheless, Horáček says the accolade caught him a little off guard. “At first I was startled,” he said. “Then, of course, I felt moved and honoured. The award is considered highly prestigious in our country.”
SOŠV Secretary General Jozef Liba described the encyclopaedia as “an exceptional and richly illustrated bilingual [Slovak and English] representative publication” with “an extraordinary historical and factual value and artistic visual processing.”
The book chronicles the transformation of competitive dance into DanceSport in Slovakia, from a pleasurable pastime into a popular sport. The narrative is imbued with the Olympic spirit thanks in part to the close ties enjoyed between the Slovak DanceSport Federation and the National Olympic and Paralympic Committees.
“The book maps the beginnings of dance events in our region from the end of the 19th century, when present-day Slovakia was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, following with the eras of interwar and post-war Czechoslovakia,” said Horáček, who when not writing books is also President of the Slovak DanceSport Federation and Chair of the Historical Commission at the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF).
“I like a logical, chronological approach, in this case from the establishment of competitive dance up to the present day,” he continued. “However, the book also includes several analytical chapters which explain certain phenomena and introduce individual personalities outside the linear chronological pattern.”
In addition to classic DanceSport, the book also presents the development of Acrobatic RnR, Paradance, University Dance, Formation Dance, Showdance, and Exhibitions, as well as portraits of most of the significant personalities of the dance movement in Slovakia, including members of the national Hall of Fame.
The encyclopaedia was a mere 400 pages when it was originally published electronically in November 2017 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of organized competitive dance in Slovakia. But soon afterwards Horáček and Harangozó were “swamped” with new contributions (mainly authentic photographs) from members of the Slovak DanceSport Federation, resulting in the extension of the publication deadline for the book in its printed form, which eventually hit the shelves in autumn of 2018.
Asked to describe the most surprising thing he discovered while researching the book, Horáček admitted he was “astonished by how much we did not know … and how many things were different than we originally assumed.” He was especially pleased to uncover some long-forgotten results from Slovak dancers at European and World Championships.
The six-and-a-half-year odyssey was rewarded with a result of its own when “Encyclopaedia of Competitive Dance in Slovakia 1957 – 2017” beat out some 20 other titles to win the SOŠV’s Ladislav Chudík Award, named after the famous Slovak actor. It is the first time any member of the Slovak DanceSport Federation has received such an honour, one that Horáček credits equally to his close friend and long-time collaborator, “Dodo” Harangozó.
“Dodo has long been the most respected photographer of DanceSport in Slovakia,” said Horáček, whose first publication, 2011’s “The Best of Uni-Dance…”, also featured the photography of Harangozó. “He has created an excellent archive of photographs taken at competitions held in Slovakia during his nearly 30-year-long career, while as a photographer and graphic designer by profession he also knows how to process historical, often damaged photographs. [The Encyclopaedia of Competitive Dance] could never have been created without his contribution!
“Furthermore, as one of my closest friends, he is the only person to have enough patience and strength to work with me,” Horáček added with a smile.
After a half dozen years toiling away on what can only be described as a labour of love, now that the encyclopaedia has been published and received its fair share of plaudits, is it finally time for Horáček and Harangozó to rest on their laurels?
Not a chance. Plans are already under way for their next publication – one with decidedly global ambitions.
“The WDSF is a large, global family developing DanceSport, one of the most beautiful types of aesthetic sports,” Horáček said. “The size and strength of individual members is not important: What really matters is unity and togetherness. Slovakia is a very small country and its DanceSport federation is not large either. Despite this, we have been glad to contribute to casting a bright light on our sport within the Olympic environment.
“Personally, as chair of the WDSF Historical Committee, I will be incredibly happy when we manage to prepare a beautiful and valuable publication about the history of the world dance movement, including the presentation of individual NMBs!”
Copies of “Encyclopaedia of Competitive Dance in Slovakia 1957 – 2017” can be requested from the Slovak DanceSport Federation’s administrative office by mail at Škultétyho 1, 83101 Bratislava, Slovakia or email at firstname.lastname@example.org