Ambassador Petr Gandalovič launched the Mutual Inspirations Festival 2015 – Karel Čapek, on September 3, 2015, in an evening of 1920s jazz music and dance, featuring Czech pianist Jana Otáhalová and the Fidgety Feet dance duo Lily Matini and Kevin Crandell. The evening paid tribute to celebrated author Karel Capek, a true visionary of his time.
Čapek’s lasting legacy features such milestone works as Rossum’s Universal Robots (R.U.R.), The Absolute at Large, and War with the Newts. In the Ambassador’s opening remarks, he called Čapek a forerunner to such science fiction giants as George Orwell (Animal Farm) and Aldous Huxley (Brave New World).
Over 150 people attended the event, with Cultural Attaché Robert Řehák presenting an overview of Karel Čapek’s life and work, followed by a short introduction into the highlights of the festival. He also offered a special surprise, revealing a series of graphic illustrations by Karel’s brother, Josef, borrowed from private collections and on view to the public for the first time.
In addition to the original works by Josef Čapek, Pavla Veličkinová, Head of the Public Diplomacy Department at the Embassy, opened the exhibitions The Life and Times of the Writer Karel Čapek (1890 - 1938) and Josef Čapek: Painter, Poet and Writer presented by the Karel Čapek Memorial. She also spoke about Čapek’s contemporary, Jaroslav Ježek, a composer and founder of Czech modern music whose compositions became symbols of 20s and 30s Czechoslovakia.
Internationally-hailed pianist Jana Otáhalová, a student of classical and jazz music at the Jaroslav Ježek Conservatory and College, performed a repertoire of Ježek’s compositions, including “Sunrise,” “The Three Policemen,” “Life is Just a Coincidence,” “Heaven on Earth,” and “The Hat in the Bushes”. Her finale of the Bugatti Step, along with the Fidgety Feet dance duo, drew a roaring applause from the audience.
In addition to the Bugatti Step, Washington-based Fidgety Feet duo Lily Matini and Kevin Crandell surprised guests with their dance rendition of the Black Bottom, coming to the stage from the audience dressed in 1920s attire. They concluded the evening with the Charleston, as guests clapped along to the lively tempo, their high kicks, and quick steps.