Since it opened fully in 1982, Cankarjev dom (CD) has presented a world-class Theatre and Dance Programme, providing a stage for contemporary theatre and dance from around the world, as well as Slovenian production of international standing. It is a member of the Informal European Theatre Meeting (IETM).
Contemporary dance, ballet and theatre are three of the main planks of the CD programme throughout the year, presented in the centre's main auditoriums, with the Duša Počkaj Hall, a small theatre of the "black-box" type, being reserved exclusively for new works. Introduced in 2015/16, the Magnificent 7 subscription series (Abonma Veličastnih 7) enables audiences to pay up front and secure their seats for dance, ballet, theatre and opera performances across the season, which usually runs from October to May.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic curtailed much of the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons, forcing the cancellation of the Magnificent 7 subscription series, and of productions by the Faso Danse Théâtre (Belgium, 2020), SNG Maribor (Prokofiev's Cinderella, 2020), SNG Opera in Balet Ljubljana (Spartacus, 2021) and Jan Lauwers (Belgium, 2021).
Contemporary dance and circus
The international dimensions of this section of the programme are pronounced, with highlights in the latter half of the 2010s that included Bartabas and Andrés Marín (France/Spain, equestrian dance, 2015), the China National Peking Opera Company (2015), the New Circus of Vietnam (2016), the Andrés Marín Flamenco Abierto Company (Spain, 2016), Sankai Juku (Japan, butoh dance, 2017), the Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company (USA, 2017), Saburo Teshigawara (Japan, contemporary dance, 2017), Compagnie Käfig (France/Brazil, experimental dance and visual technology, 2018), the Sydney Dance Company (2018), Grupo Corpo (Brazil, contemporary dance, 2018), the L-E-V Dance Company (Israel, 2018), Circa Contemporary Circus (Australia, 2018), Cirque Éloize (Canada, 2019), Rosas (Belgium, contemporary dance, 2019) and the Carolyn Carlson Company (USA/France, 2020).
For a capital city of fairly modest size, Ljubljana stages an enviable number of major international ballet productions per season. These lean heavily towards contemporary ballet expression. Highlights include Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal (2014), Le Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève (A Midsummer Night's Dream, 2014), Le Ballet National de Marseille (Bolero – Extremalism, 2016), Alonzo King LINES Ballet (USA, Concerto for Two Violins, Men's Quintet and Writing Ground, 2016), the Ballet of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb (The Glembays, 2017), Ballet Preljocaj (France, Romeo and Juliet, 2017) and CCN – Ballet de Lorraine (France, Histoires sans histoire(s), 2019).
CD also maintains a strong season-by-season association with the ballet section of the Slovene National Theatre Maribor (Balet SNG Maribor): Tango, Radio and Juliet and Hommage à Stravinsky (2013), Peer Gynt (2015), Eugene Onegin (2016), Carmen, Faun and Bolero (2017), Death in Venice (2019, in collaboration with the Ballet of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb) and Hora-Cantata (2019). The majority of these productions were choreographed by Edward Clug, winner of a Prešeren Foundation Award and one of contemporary ballet's biggest global names.
In January 2019, CD held the Maribor Is Ours festival to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of SNG Maribor. It featured revivals of the theatre's productions of Aida, Turandot and Peer Gynt, and a new production of Kekec, a ballet fairytale for children choreographed by Clug and set to music by Slovenian folk band Katalena.
CD has also staged productions by other smaller Slovenian dance and ballet companies, including the Flota Institute, the En-Knap Dance Group, Fičo Balet, the Vitkar Institute and the Baobab Association.
As Slovenia is extremely well-served by national and regional theatres, CD's drama output rests heavily on co-producing and hosting short runs and single performances in collaboration with domestic, regional and international companies, including the Anton Podbevšek Theatre from Novo Mesto, SNG Drama Ljubljana, Ljubljana City Theatre (MGL), SNG Nova Gorica, Koper Theatre, the Slovene Permanent Theatre in Trieste, the National Theatre in Belgrade, the Yugoslav Drama Theatre (Belgrade), the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb, and the Marin Sorescu National Theatre (Craiova, Romania).
The first biennial Bi Flamenko International Flamenco Festival was produced and hosted in 2018. Resulting from a collaboration between the theatre/contemporary dance and jazz/world music departments at CD, and with the involvement of Flamenco Biënnale Nederland, the first two editions attracted some of the world's top flamenco musicians and dancers, such as Rafael Riqueni and Rocío Molina, as well as a host of emerging talents. The festival is based on the premise that flamenco is a contemporary, ever-evolving art form that can act as a platform for connecting different styles of music, theatre and dance.