Criticism of IFMC’2019

- Engine Of The New Dance History (Svetlana Ulanovskaya);
- IFMC'2019. Meeting In Twenty Years (Elena Slobodchikova);
- IFMC'2019. Impression (Anna Krulica);
- IFMC'2019: True Tendencies Of Modern Choreography (Daria Kozhemyako);
- Anna Karenina By Anželika Cholina: New Poetics Of The Classic Work (Daria Kozhemyako);
“OSKARA” Dance Company “KUKAI DANTZA” and “GUERNIKA” Pablo Picasso: Comparative Analysis;
Is there really provocation and shocking content in the ballet of Jan Martens “SWEAT BABY SWEAT”.


Engine Of The New Dance HistoryReflections on the results of the XXXII International Festival of Contemporary Choreography in Vitebsk (IFMC)
Svetlana Ulanovskaya - Master of Arts, dance critic
Chairperson of the Expert Council, Belarus

The program of the International Festival of Contemporary Choreography in Vitebsk, as always, was eventful. Among others: press conferences, the opening of the exhibitions of the long-term IFMC photographer Igor Gusakov and sculptor from Vitebsk Sergei Sotnikov, guest performances, workshops, quests for contestants, film screenings, competition blocks and award ceremonies for winners, open meetings of the jury and expert council, discussion of performances. Such a variety of festival events can only be welcomed: thanks to this, the audience gets the opportunity not only to see modern dance, but also to understand it.

The guest program of the festival was very diverse and uneven from an artistic point of view. A high dramatic note was set by the Evgeni Vakhtangov State Academic Theater that presented Anna Karenina at the IFMC opening. The performance staged by the Lithuanian choreographer Angelica Kholina amazed, first of all, with a brilliant acting, amazing organics of body-thought, and accuracy of musical and choreographic drama. However, the presence in the dance text of quotes from numerous ballet versions of the famous novel (individual poses of the noble Anna performed by Maya Plisetskaya, the revelry “high society” from the performance of Boris Eifman, the racing scene based on the corresponding episode from the production of Alexei Ratmansky and others) did not contribute to originality copyright statement.

Speaking of other performances, Panfilov’s ballet greatly disappointed. The premiere ballet “Labyrinth” directed by Alexei Rastorguev had a very distant relation to the creative personality of Evgeny Panfilov, but were close to cheap entertainment. The balley Man of the Air, staged by guest choreographer Dmitry Antipov (Russia-Great Britain), did not save the situation. Performance based on the paintings of Rene Magritte, resembled plastic illustrations for the artist’s textbook works, rather than a figuratively metaphorical rethinking of his work.

Ambiguous impressions were left by Viy, Radu Poklitar, created in collaboration with Ukrainian composer Alexei Rodin. In my opinion, this is the most unsuccessful performance staged by the famous choreographer during his lead of Kiev Modern Ballet. The plot of Gogol's story is presented in it as a brief retelling - a schematic and similar to a broken mirror, the fragments of which do not add up into an effectively dramatic whole. As in his other productions, Poklitaru brought the action of Viy closer to the present: seminarians chilling in a nightclub, Pannochka turns to be a maneater, and Homa Brut becomes a young man who is indiscriminate in love preferences. However, these changes are mainly of an external nature, since the main thing missing from the balley is the original author’s concept, which would allow a different look at the book plot.

A scenographic solution (costume designer Dmitry Kuryata, lighting designer Elena Antokhina) was far from the present, despite the use of advanced technologies. Video projections on a mysteriously illuminated cube, 3D mapping (video content by Olga Nikitina) referred to the visual style of dance television shows and did not bring anything new to the semantic space of the performance. And most importantly - in the ballet there was an extremely lack of effective, original dance in lexical colors. Simple, sometimes illustrative movements of artists are built on recognizable by others Poklitaru’s works by techniques that were perceived as new about ten years ago and today look like author’s cliches.

The process of extremely intense psychophysical communication was in the center of attention of the Belgian choreographer Jan Martens. In the play “Sweat baby sweat,” the director explores the state of intimacy through continuous bodily contact of performers (Kimi Ligtvoet and Stephen Michelle), who perform complex movements and acrobatic supports for an hour without ceasing to hold on to each other.

An amazing combination of traditional culture and modern stage thinking was embedded in the performance “Oskara” by Kukai Dantza (Spain). The idea of Spanish choreographic art is mainly limited to flamenco. However, the performance of Kukai Dantza revealed a completely different layer - the little-known dance of the Basque Country. The company was founded in 2001 on the initiative of the dancer and choreographer Hon Maya Sein, who decided to create choreography based on a combination of national traditions with various dance styles and the latest theater aesthetics.
Oskara is an interdisciplinary performance staged by the famous Spanish choreographer, drama theorist and creator of La Veronal’s own dance company, Marcus Morau, in collaboration with artists. We saw a bewitchingly beautiful and sad sight, in the center of which was the key to the Spanish culture image of death. The ritualism, the characteristic characters of the Basque myths (huge fat people periodically appear on the stage, ghosts without faces and chimeras) are organically intertwined with modern visual style.

The action begins in a sterile prosectorial, fenced with a white curtain and illuminated by a mystical, like otherworldly light. On a gurney - a naked dead man, over whom bent a pathologist, at a distance - an adult man in a strange pose on all fours. From this gloomy scene, a further non-linear plot of the performance grows, in the time of which the deceased rises from a gurney, dresses as civilian and makes his return journey to life. In the end, the hero returns to the prosectorial room and himself fits into the deathbed.
The dance language of the performance impresses with an extraordinary originality. Elements of national dance, contemporary dance, classical movements, pathetic gestures, ritual round dance are fused here into nothing like a choreographic text.

The central event of IFMC - the national competition of modern choreography - presented 31 works from all regions of Belarus. Its feature was the participation of not only newcomers, but also professionals, pioneers of contemporary dance. Among them are famous Vitebsk choreographer Anastasia Makhova (Arkin married) and Dmitry Kurakulov with the re-created “TAD-new”, which included students from the Grodno College of Art.
The main IFMC award - the Yevgeny Panfilov's Special Prize, which is presented to the best choreographer, was received by Yeghor Yarosh (Minsk). A graduate of the Minsk State College of Arts, Yeghor worked for two years at the National Academic Folk Choir named after Gennady Tsitovich, and today continues his education at the Academy of Russian Ballet named after Agrippina Vaganova. His piece “24” about a person who is in constant stress due to endless work turned out to be mature and surprisingly organic. An expressive monologue directed and performed by Yeghor so impressed the general manager of Ballet Preljocaj Nicole Saed that she invited him to an internship at Pavillon Noir. This is the first such eveny in the history of IFMC.

One of the best entries was presented by Elena Lisnaya, student of the Contemporary Dance Studio led by Mikhail Kaminsky (Choreography Department, Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts). Miniature "Manual sun" - figurative, thought out to the smallest detail, original in the interaction of dance and space, movement and light - received a special award "For the semantic content of the dance." Poetry, lyrical mood, as if born by the sounds of “Moonlight” by Claude Debussy, healped the miniature “Listen to the inner pianist” Evgenia Romanovich (Grodno) to stood out and piece were marked by the special prize “Postscript”.

In my opinion, Olga Rabetskaya’s one-act play “4 Scenes” (Minsk), awarded with 3rd prize, was underestimated. The originality of lexical colors, the counter-punctual interaction of movement and video, emotional and information richness distinguished this work from the rest. Even when the performers (Olga Rabetskaya and Andrey Dmitriev) were at a considerable distance from each other, a continuous energy connection was felt between them. Significantly weaker from an artistic point of view was the work "Cycle" by Alexandra Demyanova (project We are art, Minsk), also awarded with 3rd prize.

Contradictory impressions were caused by the miniature “Either ... or ...” by Dmitry Bezzubenko and Maria Peresunko (Department of Choreography of BSUCA), awarded with 2nd prize. With an obvious musicality of the choreographic thought and the amusing playful and ironic content, the work was losing it due to the uniformity of staging techniques and drama: in addition to manipulating clothing, there were no changes on the stage.

Once again, the Vitebsk Theater-Studio of Contemporary Choreography by Diana Yurchenko received the first prize. I do not dispute the contribution of this choreographer to the development of Belarusian contemporary dance, however her works are more in line with pop style than contemporary dance.
The non-triviality of vocabulary, the meaningful dialogue between the performers (Ekaterina Yasyuk and Elena Lisnaya) remembered the duet “About Contact” staged by Ekaterina Yasyuk (Contemporary Dance Workshop led by Mikhail Kaminsky), who received a special prize from Angelica Kholina. In general, Mikhail Kaminsky became the hero of the festival for me. The students of his course have smart, trained bodies, a passion for dancing, a desire to try, seek and the ability to wrap their ideas in an individual musical-plastic form. And the choreography department of the Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts has once again showed itself as a catalyst for new names and interesting searches in the field of contemporary dance.

Vitebsk festival was held 32 time. This is a fantastic notion, fixing not only the history of the forum itself, but also of the whole Belarusian modern dance.


IFMC'2019. Meeting in twenty years
By Elena Slobodchikova
 (Russia) - Artistic Director of the Krasnoyarsk Center for Contemporary Choreography, Teacher of Contemporary Choreography at the Krasnoyarsk Choreographic College, Organizer of Festivals, Workshops of Contemporary Choreography
Member of the Expert Council IFMC'2019

The International Festival of Modern Choreography in Vitebsk holds a prominent place in the contemporary dance of the whole dance community. Most of the post-Soviet choreographers got through this festival. Therefore, 20 years ago, when I started to discover this new type of dance art, IFMC inspired me enough that for 20 years I was only engaged in the knowledge of this vast world. Two decades later, I was invited as a member of the expert council and teacher of master classes, so I was able to see another side of the festival, to learn it from the inside out.

In 2019, IFMC included a competitive program of Belarusian dance companies, which allowed me to get acquainted with the country's modern dance personally. Master classes, competitive and guest programs, expert council discussions – these is what 6 days of the festival included. Every day filled with new impressions and emotions. A special form of conducting master classes means that you see different groups come to each class, and all participants can take classes from all the invited teachers. It was a great opening for me in organizing the festival. All master classes took place at the same time; six teachers, six groups, six creative locations, six days the participants are fed of and learn, and then you can see them involved in the competition program. Probably, such an opportunity for creative contact enables to understand the plastic of the performers.

One of the most interesting features of the festival was a competitive program where one could see the whole spectrum of thoughts of Belarusian choreographers. However, for me, as for a professional and an ordinary spectator, it is important that stays with me for a long time, like a train of a good perfume. The modern dance workshop led by Mikhail Kaminski presented several works and each of them was interesting in its solution, it was always fascinating to observe their difference. The "Pet sun" performed by Elena Lisna was complicated by the fact that every millimeter had to be sharpened, and only then could one achieve that amazing impression and enjoyment of choreography. The miniature “About Contact” keeps the audience pressure for all 10 minutes of performance, and I could not pull my eyes away from the performance, so it was done well.

The Eugenia Ramanovich’s Project (Grodno) presented the work “Listen to the Inner Pianist”. It was exciting to watch the compositional solution. Choreographer Eugenia Ramanovich finely put young children through adult performers. She skillfully handled the acting space, which is quiet difficult for a large number of stage directors. The sound of piano, knock and music of Claude Debussy reinvigorated staging.

Valentin Isakov’s Project “X-PerIments” in the one-act ballet “18+” that performed choreographic experiments to the music of Maurice Ravel. Probably, the fact that this work was filled with some kind of temporary and spatial disharmony, the change of pictures, as in the cartoon, kept my attention and also made it possible to catch the main idea. Such experiment could be taken into account. As for me, this work is some kind of protest against harmony, which is quiet typical for choreographic art. Maybe this was what the choreographer wanted to express.

The Dance School "Menada" under the direction of Anastasia Arkin presented two solo plays: "Transition" and "No Trespassing. Both plays were performed by Elizabeth Esipova. I was impressed by the technicality and energy of movements. Both plays can be described as very interesting in its choreographic decision. It is obvious the choreographer is not a newcomer to contemporary dance. The choreographer very skillfully managed to find an appropriate way to show the main idea of the play, and also did not lose such an integral part as artistry.

Several plays of the Diana Yurchenko’s studio theatre (Vitebsk) add some special dance atmosphere to the competition program. There is no doubt that this creative team works in a special genre, which includes pop, theater and contemporary dance. The performers possess good dance background but for me, personally, all the choreographic plays presented at the competition program were too for show, it was down-to-earth. And this was the biggest squashy place for me. As a viewer, I expected to get more food for thought. I would probably describe this genre as a commercial modern dance, which is nowadays being broadcasted on TV and is called «contemp».

The play “24” of dance group “Reroll” (Minsk) under the leadership of Egor Yarosh impressed me a lot. This production is filled with accuracy of each movement, gesture, subtle acting decisions. Egor Yarosh is an excellent performer. All 4 minutes and 10 seconds, he alone filled the entire space of the scene with himself, did not look lonely. Not every artist succeeds in achieving such an effect of being on stage. As a viewer, I am 100% connected to this work.

During the competitive viewing, more than thirty productions of various choreographic forms were presented: “solo”, “duets”, “miniatures”, “performances”. Some of the choreographers chose an experiment, someone relied on the experience of foreign choreographers, someone was looking for the potential in the idea and body, someone still lacked knowledge and a “school”, but all these 6 days were informative and interesting to watch for Belarusian contemporary choreography. Does Belarusian contemporary dance have its own way? Definetly it has. Modern choreography is always a reflection of modern life, culture and history. Before going to the IFMC in 2019, I knew about two choreographers from Belarus, but now I can say with confidence that Belarus, thanks to this festival, has quite extraordinary, interesting, creative people that create choreographic country potential. I’ll just wish not to stop in this long way of discovering contemporary art. I would like to thank Marina Romanovskaya for the invitation to the IFMC, for contributing her energy to this festival for thirty-two years, for the highly professional festival team that surrounds its hospitality throughout the week, for the guest program, which brought its special atmosphere. Let IFMC stay on the world map of modern choreography for a long time.


IFMC'2019. Impression
By Anna Krulica (Poland) - dance critic, curator of dance projects, author of books and articles
Member of the Expert Council IFMC'2019

The International Festival of Modern Choreography in Vitebsk (IFMC) is one of the events that you should visit in order to understand special features of the dance culture in Belarus in its different displays.
IFMC – is a festival with a long history and also the most prestigious forum of modern choreography in Belarus. Over the years, Polish groups were part of the artistic program of this festival, thus Poland got acquainted with IFMC.
In my thinking, the main strength of the festival apart from high level of invited dancers and world-famous contemporary dance groups, a competitive choreographic program is organized for Belarusian participants. It could be applauded how many people are interested in and engaged in modern dance in Belarus.
Besides, rewarding the winners of the contest, the festival provides an opportunity to discuss a variety of techniques and artistic approaches to understanding dance among professionals - members of the expert council and jury. Thanks to the careful organization of IFMC, among the variety of festival events, there is always time for a serious discussion about the various problems of choreographic art.

The modern-day festival program has interested in choreographic reinterpretation of world-famous literary subjects, among which are the plastic performance “Anna Karenina” directed by Angelika Kholina (State Academic Theater named after Evgeny Vakhtangov, Russia) and the ballet “Viy” directed by Radu Poklitaru (Kiev Modern_Ballet, Ukraine). Unfortunately, the performances of these choreographers are rarely staged in Poland (in 2018, a fragment from the ballet “Rain” directed by Radu Poklitaru was shown in Krakow), and therefore I watched them with great enthusiasm.

Every new day opens new ways of understanding what is dance and what it could be. Such events as “IFMC in Vitebsk” provide us an opportunity to see the diversity of thinking regarding the dance. The audience highly appreciated the performances of the festival’s longtime friend - Yevgeny Panfilov’s Ballet Theater (Russia), which showed two premiere ballet productions: “The Labyrinth” (choreography by Alexei Rastorguev) and “The Man of the Air” (choreography by Dmitry Antipov).

The Oskara performance of the dance company Kukai Dantza (Spain) amazes with the purity of its aesthetics and smooth tempo-rhythm of action. Here you can also discover modern perception of movement. The performance is conditionally filled with dancing character, the plasticity is unusually musical and well organized in space, but the significance of this performance is not about the dance means.

The most modern in aesthetic and artistic techniques has become the performance “Sweet baby sweet” by Jan Martens (Belgium-Netherlands), where each human action express us the daily dramaturgy of life. The performance encouraged to remember Pina Bausch’s thoughts that peoples life is about dancing. Each action in our life is a kind of dance. The performance focuses on the kiss as a physical state, an exercise in which you can analyze all the reactions of body language, leaving behind metaphorical side and feelings. There is only physical side of body.

Among the participants of the Belarusian contest, it is worth paying special attention to several works. The chamber performances were most close to me, since they have a more personal approach to the topics raised.
I was impressed by Elena Lisna’s attempt to create her own dance language in the miniature "Hand Sun". The performer originally uses the light of a flashlight from a mobile phone, dynamically transforming lighting on her own body. This lighting forms a bizarre visual image of the body in the space of scene, dimming and highlighting individual elements. In the structure of movement you can find delicacy and accuracy. The choreographer would not be able to get the desired effect without attention to specifics, thus she brilliantly manage with details and realization of the movements of her body.

In my opinion, group works were strongly influenced by pop culture. In particular, ubiquity and predictability of staging techniques, that was clearly recognized in “Virgos” by Diana Yurchenko’s Theater-Studio of Contemporary Choreography, referred more to the aesthetics of dance television shows, rather than contemporary dance.
During the creative competition there were presented 31 competitive works. The IFMC Republican contest vividly demonstrated the tendency of choreographers to small forms. This refers not only to Belarusian choreography, but also has become a general tendency throughout the dance world.
Every day, new options open up for us how we can understand the dance and what it can be. And events such as the Vitebsk festival allow you to see the diversity of thinking about the dance and enrich your own ideas about it.


IFMC'2019: True Tendencies Of Modern Choreography
Daria Kozhemyako - PhD Candidate In Art History, Vice-Rector For Educational Work At The Educational Institution “Belarusian State University Of Culture And Arts”

The ХХХII International Festival of Modern Choreography in Vitebsk (IFMC) 2019 was fundamentally different from the festivals of previous years. This year’s luck is that a galaxy of young Belarusian choreographers, who took part in the contest program, saw the diversity of works atypical for the national art. During a press conference the European jury members were asked about the differences between European and Belarusian contemporary dance. The answer was evasive: dance is a universal language understandable to everyone. But after everything we've seen it can be argued that European choreographic art is much bolder, more open to experiment and ready to surprise. In this case it is not an evaluative category, but a statement of the situation.

The festival opened with the performance “Anna Karenina” staged by the choreographer Anželika Cholina. The performance was declared as plastic, but the balance between the movements of the main character and all other characters created the impression of a semi-dance, semi-plastic (in other words, choreoplastic) action. Throughout the performance the thought was pulsing – it is an opera without words, and how amazing it was when the opera aria sounded. Simple but comprehensive, clear images and movements were completely understood by every viewer. In the discussion at the end of the performance there was expressed the idea that Karenin performed by E. Knyazev was too gloomy and severe but Karenin was presented as very humane, immersed in his thoughts, in his own way, in a manly way, experiencing the tragedy of his life.

Initially the music of A. Schnittke in the performance was embarrassing, one might have expected that by the middle of the performance the hall would be empty. However, the lexical text easily braided the music. But the most striking was the ending of the performance. To be honest, the ending of the book by L. Tolstoy was disappointing. One might expect enchanting arrival of the train, blood and pain, but the writer described the passing of Anna as quiet, even somehow imperceptible (considering that it was the climax of the work, it seemed to be blurry). A sort of unfulfilled expectations when the author emotionally “winded up” the reader throughout the book, and then suddenly nothing happened. Therefore, the attention to the ending of the performance by A. Cholina was particularly close.

Instead of an arriving train there is only illusion – a rhythmic sound created by the chairs of the characters, which from an emotional point of view is much stronger than the visual component. However, it is difficult to agree with the idea of Anželika that a train acts as a society that blew through Anna’s whole life. If Anna was destroyed by the society, the conflict would be external and it would be played out brighter, but the main character’s internal conflict prevailed in the performance, it moved the whole story forward. Therefore, the sound of chairs is more of a swarm of endless thoughts with which Anna is left alone in a crowd of strangers.

“Viy” by R. Poklitaru was surprisingly decorated, I have never seen such scenography before. It is amazing how Radu managed to abandon his usual phantasmagoria, incredible in performance and in volume costumes, having minimized them and replaced all this with mapping. Thus, the director unloaded the scene, cleared it, emphasizing the action itself. The music of A. Rodin became a full-fledged acting character, while the choreographic text turned out to be as simple as possible for perception. Thus, the balance of expressive means was preserved – a rich independent musical text and light, unobtrusive choreography were fit in unusual (atypical for the Belarusian scene) scenery.

The ballet “Sweat Baby Sweat” by Jan Martens was not as provocative as the press or the audience talked about it before the start of the performance. Perhaps being well-watched, perhaps knowledge of the tendencies of European choreography required more frankness than the one that was shown on stage.
“Sweat Baby Sweat” is a result of physical theater, the essence of which is in study of movements, abilities of body, skill to maintain physical balance, etc. Meanwhile, the story itself is complete but not finished. It is cyclical. This was indicated by the light: a change of the direction of the light flux from vertical (absence of shadows of the characters refers to the fact that the action took place during the day, at noon, when there can be no shadows) to front (warm light and, accordingly, long shadows from artificial lighting). Thus, the effect of day following night, after night again day, etc., was achieved, and the relationship of the characters continued. And such changes could occur indefinitely, until the characters put an end to their relationship. But even when the performance was coming to an end, the characters crawled to the backdrop of the stage, moving away from each other, then again changed the trajectory of movement and again began to move towards, continuing the given cycle.

On the other hand, it is a lighter form of immersive theater. The viewers created the emotions of what was happening on the stage, identifying themselves with the characters. In the final it might have seemed that the performance ended exactly when the viewer began to “fall out” of the action. The musical composition put on loop was ready to be repeated as long as the viewer was ready to listen to it and stay focused on the lives of the characters, stay with them in their moment.

It is interesting that “Labyrinth” (choreography by Alexey Rastorguev) performed by the Evgeny Panfilov Ballet is the second performance at the festival (the first was “Viy”) where the character had a split personality. Maybe that’s why it was easy to understand that the girl in white is the soul of the main character, and the mirror in her hands is “the mirror of the soul”. One familiar with the work of E. Poe could draw parallels of how accurately the text of “The Masque of the Red Death” was interpreted (this story formed the basis of “Labyrinth”). The choreographic story that we had seen, was correlated with the writer’s text, so the audience just caught the moments in which the texts were similar and in which they were different. It might have been more complicated for those who were unfamiliar with the story. But the labyrinth of rooms, a constant reminder of the death wandering around the characters (red balloons-lights), the king thrashing about, in whose castle other characters were trying to escape the plague, – all that was clear to everyone in the hall.

“Man of Air” staged by Dmitry Antipov left the same impression – perception of the performance is much simpler, and the essence is clearer when you know the work of R. Magritte. The image of a person without a face is, according to the idea of the artist, the personification of anonymity, the ability to hide in the crowd, blend in, but is it fortunate to preserve individuality? This is the essence of all human existence at present, that’s why relevance and urgency of the raised topic was surprising. The illustrative nature of the choreographic text made it possible to “live through” and rethink the subject proposed by the original artist in both choreography and painting.

The most difficult to understand was “Oskara” of the dance company La Veronal of Marcos Morau. The performance is about the authentic Basque culture, which represents the eclecticism of separate images, valuable in themselves, but difficult to fit into one general text. The story seemed to be set in the reverse order: the action began in the morgue, the main character was dead. But he rose from the pathologist’s table (did he become alive?), and the rest of the characters, whom he met on his way, tried to convey the true history, the culture of the surrounding unique world of the Spanish people. After rethinking what we have seen, it can be assumed that the essence of the performance is in an attempt to put, squeeze culture into a person who is not ready to perceive it (into a spiritually dead person). It’s the author’s attempt to pay attention to how easy it is to lose your origins, and how difficult it is to return to them later.

It is amazing how the culture and authentic Basque art is modernized in the performance, how logically, beautifully fit into reality. In comparison, Belarusian traditional, and also authentic, art is no less unique, but so far authors are in search of a form that could become so attractive to our audience.
The unique works of the ХХХII Festival IFMC not only gave new emotions, but allowed to go beyond the usual framework of ideas about the current tendencies of world modern choreography.


Anna Karenina By Anželika Cholina: New Poetics Of The Classic Work
Daria Kozhemyako - PhD Candidate In Art History, Vice-Rector For Educational Work At The Educational Institution “Belarusian State University Of Culture And Arts”

Leo Tolstoy’s novel “Anna Karenina” is perhaps one of the most popular works in contemporary art, which long ago ceased to be exclusively literary. Drama directors, film makers have repeatedly turned to it (more than 30 adaptations are known), and from the second half of the 20th century also choreographers. Even over the past decade several versions of ballets based on this novel have appeared, for example, in the productions of John Neumeier, Christian Shpuck, Teet Kask or Alexei Ratmansky. It is noteworthy that in November 2019 Minsk in one week saw three different ballet productions of “Anna Karenina” – premiere at the Bolshoi Theater of Belarus (choreographer – Olga Kostel), by the musical theater of Karelia (choreographer – Kirill Simonov), and by Anželika Cholina performed by the actors of the Vakhtangov Theatre.

We can only guess at the reasons for such unprecedented popularity of this particular novel, but in general, interest in the non-verbal interpretation of the work is quite natural. Throughout the 20th century theatre figures wanted to deprive the drama theater of the verbal form of expression. The turn of the 19th-20th centuries was characterized by intense spiritual search in society and, being a turning point in the era, intensified the interest of creators and public in a new kind of theater. There was a lack of confidence in the word, its limitation, earthiness and even falseness were recognized. Provided that the main means of expression – the word was removed from the dramatic performance, the experimenters of the 20th century proposed an equivalent – the actor’s plasticity, which became a defining component in the determination of the style of the performance. The theater, using it as the main means of performance, in the second half of the century was called “plastic theater”.

The last decade of the 20th – the first decades of the 21st centuries became again a turning point in culture and art. Directors of drama theaters more often start to turn to the help of choreographers, as a century ago they replace the word with the expressive potential of plasticity and choreographic vocabulary, which carry information in a more encoded, but at the same time in a more accessible form. This is due to the fact that each movement of the actor acquires a new special meaning, but at the same time allows to create works that are understandable to any viewer and to expand the boundaries of the tour map.

“Anna Karenina” by Anželika Cholina is identified as a plastic performance in which the director uses dramatic, musical, visual art, acrobatics, pantomime, actor’s plasticity and the main component – choreography, as means of expression. Each character of the presented performance is endowed with acting plasticity, except for Anna, whose role is special not only in semantic and dramatic content, but also the “text” of her character is different. She is the only one whom the director entrusted to dance. The presence of the main character’s choreographic text allows us to say that the performance is a “choreographic-acting synthesis”, which is a key feature of a choreoplastic performance, and explains the expanded palette of expressive means used by the director.

The uniqueness of Anželika Cholina’s work is that the choreoplasticity of the actors frames the conflict between the Karenins expressed in the focus on the dance of Anna and the deliberate “non-dance” of Aleksey Aleksandrovich. Thus, through the conflict of movements of two people who have not understood each other for a long time, the confrontation that Anna is so worried about is presented in the most obvious way. Accepting her position, Karenin makes attempt to change physically, trying to smooth out the angular physics of his movements, but his efforts are enough only until each response movement of the wife.

In some media publications about this performance it was suggested that Karenin is too gloomy and harsh. But, in my opinion, this idea is unfair, since Karenin was initially presented as a loner. If in the novel by L. Tolstoy he has a like-minded person, countess Lidia Ivanovna, in the interpretation of A. Cholina he is alone with his thoughts. Immersed in them, in his own way, in a manly way he experiences the tragedy of his life.
The scene of “sharing” the son Seryozha, who is literally pulled in different directions, even more outlines all the emphasis in the life and image of Karenin. It is very clearly made up mise-en-scène – Anna, Karenin and Seryozha are located in the center, creating the illusion of a friendly family. However, very soon another quarrel happens during which everyone pulls the son to his/her side, holding his hands. So they visually line up in a diagonal – the far left dimly lit corner in which Anna appears, Seryozha is in the center, personifying the only thing that still connects the Karenins, and Aleksey, striving for the proscenium, forward, to a new life. He doesn’t put his wife under the denouncing spotlight, but he himself stands under them, thereby demonstrating that he, the deceived husband, also has a soul that suffers, and a deeply vulnerable heart that hurts. Such arrangement of the characters (the diagonal is the far left – the right front corner) is regarded as anti-movement and emphasizes the impasse. A positive outcome that Karenin dreams of is impossible. It only remains for him to be strong, withstanding the blows of fate. The author showed this strength by stingy, to some extent, mechanical movements of a man.

The coloristic triad (black, white, red), which dominates on stage, is the first three-color system in culture and history of art. The British-American ethnographer, sociologist and folklorist V. Turner called it not only an archetype of a man, but also an archetype of the entire human society. By such a classic move, the author defines the positions of the characters in the performance and wins over the audience, telling a complex, deep story with the use of simple but comprehensive, easily recognizable images and a visual presentation clear to every viewer. Some scenes impress with the richness of directorial-choreographic thought: dramaturgical, mis-en-scènic and plastic. The ensemble constructions are so well designed that it seems that they are an independent work, and are somewhere associated with stage decisions of opera productions.
An appeal to the music of A. Schnittke is a very bold step. Many people, superficially familiar with the work of this composer, are sure that his music is countless fragments of individual sounds, noises and melodic phrases, which are more reminiscent of the tuning of the radio than the finished musical composition.

Therefore, A. Schnittke, declared in the poster, could scare off a potential audience. However, in the situation with “Anna Karenina”, the choreoplastic text is successfully woven into the musical canvas. It is justified by the fact that this music had once before been tested on audience, as it was written for the play by Y. Lyubimov “The Revizsky Tale” (based on Gogol’s work) staged in 1978 at the Taganka Theater.
The ending of the performance emotionally has nothing to do with the reality of L. Tolstoy. The similarity of the two works is that Anna’s suicide was not something enchanting, but on the contrary, very quiet and hardly noticeable. But if in the book this climax doesn’t meet the expectations of the reader emotionally wound up to the limit, A. Cholina has the ending with a bombshell. Anna goes deep into the stage, and chairs begin to fly out of the wings and bump into each other. The rumble they create is like voice acting of that endless cacophony of judgmental thoughts that haunt the main character throughout her story.

Then come out the participants of the story and close together in a dense crowd behind Anna. On stage they only create a rhythmic clatter of the train wheels, hitting the legs of the chairs on the stage floor, and this clatter is much stronger than the illusion of the train. So the author, finally, allows everyone to “speak out”. This ending corresponds to the author’s idea that a train acts as a society that sweeps through Anna’s life.
However it is possible to speculate that it wasn’t society that destroyed Anna (in this case the conflict would have been external and have been played brighter, but in the production the main character’s internal feelings are much stronger). The sound of the train made by chairs sliding across the floor is rather a swarm of her own endless thoughts, and Anna is left alone with them in a crowd of strangers.

In general this theater experiment with “Anna Karenina” directed by Anželika Cholina was a success – finely created images, wonderful acting and focus shifted from words to movement certainly enriched the performance. It is gratifying that with a new look at the well-known classic work the text of Tolstoy is not distorted, and the viewer is given an opportunity to look for their own meanings in the new.


 “OSKARA” Dance Company “KUKAI DANTZA” and “GUERNIKA” Pablo Picasso: Comparative Analysis.
Daria Kozhemyako - PhD Candidate In Art History, Vice-Rector For Educational Work At The Educational Institution “Belarusian State University Of Culture And Arts”

Among the performances presented as part of the program of the XXXII IFMC International Festival of Contemporary Choreography in Vitebsk, the Oskara of the Kukai Dantza dance company was the most difficult piece. The first impression is a mosaic performance, where each fragment of the performance is valuable in itself, but does not immediately add up to a common, easily readable text. Perhaps the reason is that the choreographer Marcos Morau took on a topic that is understandable for the Belarusian audience - the history and traditions of his people, but the author presented them with non-trivial means - through modern rather than traditional choreography, although it was what first came to mind when speaking about folklore or authenticity.

The association that arises when viewing Oskara guiding us to “Guernica” by Pablo Picasso. Therefore, the comparative approach as a means of comprehending the meanings of the work seems to be most relevant in relation to this ballet. Of course, you should not look for a direct reading, especially since the author of Oskara did not at all aim to be like someone and did not offer the viewer to look for something similar in other works. However, people from art are so immersed in the world of signs, woven into the sociocultural space that reading events or details of their own culture is manifested in the same images at the level of genetic memory.
As it was said, the picture "Guernica" was originally conceived by Pablo Picasso as strongly apolitical piece. It was supposed to be part of the exhibition in the Republican Pavilion, in which the rest of the work was conceived as part of the political agenda. The anti-fascism theme was to become the leitmotif, uniting all works of the exhibition.

In general, the artist managed to maintain the theme with the “anti” sign, but the essence of the work changed radically after the tragedy of April 26, 1937. On this day, the small town of Guernica, which historically belongs to the Basques, was destroyed by the German Legion "Condor". More than 1000 bombs were dropped on the city, everything that was not destroyed by them burned down within three days. In addition to the deceased population, ancient monuments and numerous cultural artifacts died under the ruins.
The Oscara dance performance is not directly related to the tragedies of the city and the heroes and works of Picasso, except for those features that are incredibly similar in these two pieces. The author of the Oscara Marcos Morau is a unique person, who has created the dance company Kukai Dantza specifically to popularize the art of the Basques - people living in northern Spain. To fully reveal the culture of his people, he invites a variety of choreographers. Those, in return, enrich the crew arsenal with their modern dance language, showing the Basque culture from a new perspective, as they themselves feel it.

Thus, the Basque culture is the first thing that unites the crew and the choreographer. The beginning of the Oscara unfold in a hospital morgue, where a plot character unsuccessfully tries to revive dead person. Often, in the process of enjoying the beauty (after visiting an art gallery, watching movies or listening to classical music) catharsis (purification) occurs, it seems that you even begin to breathe differently. This is exactly what the doctors at the Oscara do. They tried to animate an already dead person. However, they do not succeed. "Patient", a spiritually dead person does not perceive anything.
The tragedy of Picasso is spelled out very clearly. The action in the picture takes place in a cramped basement where people, animals and birds are "closed". The outline presents the interior - ceiling beams, slabs on the floor, window and door openings. We also schematically “read” the set design of the Oscara. In the middle of the stage space there is a cube of huge frames. Not walls but freely developing canvases. These are curtains and doors at the same time, a frame instead of beams. But the space is clearly limited. The first scene of Marcos Morau unfold inside the cube, the same as in the basement. The foreground of the picture is conditionally highlighted with a triangle, which allows you to focus on the main characters. In the Oscara, light also spills from above, as if from a hospital light in an enclosed space. Thus, authors present the same (dead) heroes. Only in Picasso's work they really can’t be revived by anything, and you can only reach the viewer with a call to prevent physical or mental death. It is unlikely that the authors will be able to "raise" their heroes, but they believe that through the images they can reach us.

The picture is painted in black and white and in this way resembles a monochrome chronicle of terrible events. The Oscara stood in the same monochrome style - white clothes of the dancers, the same colour as curtains which form the cube, a white bay and a dark, almost black, boxed scene.
The use of white is natural. White is traditionally perceived as a symbol of purity, innocence, virtue and joy. It is often associated with the divine principle, in ancient times was a symbol of the spirit of ancestors. In addition, that colour has the status of a borderline (neutral) state of a person, for example, in the Belarusian culture that would be the bride in white. This was due to the transition from the world of the living to the world of the dead. The bride is dying for her parents and reborn as a wife in her own family. Such an interpretation of that colour is normal with many cultures, therefore, it is easily perceived by the viewer. In addition, this symbolism clearly correlates with the same delicate images that are broadcast by the authors.

There is not much cultural authenticity in Oskara. Direct link only in musical acapelic accompaniment of choreography. Not a single costume, nor set design, nor even choreographic text sends spectators several centuries ago. On the contrary, the viewer will continue to take part in this. He is an outside observer of history. It was read as the author’s “lure” - the Basque art is not shown directly, but it is done so successfully and attractively that one willy-nilly needs to see the true: what has inspired the author, that he had created such a masterpiece.
The entire performance of the company "Kukai Dantza" is divided into several episodes, as if on several pages of the history of Basque.
Each episode is clearly read, but it seems that they are little related. However, there is always a protagonist. He wanders about this “page” of history. He and music connect the multi-part Oscara, acting as its leitmotif.
M. Morau refers to emotional stress and an industrial impression. All this creates artistic integrity, which causes the viewer the necessary lively response.

The painting, however, represented as a three-part composition (which can be distinguished three distinct fragments), which, of course, have a certain volume and depth. The style of the painting shows a synthesis of pure cubism with elements of realism (for example, a horseshoe). If you look at the canvas very carefully, you get the impression of looking through transparent glass, as if looking in an aquarium in which a tragedy is played out.
In the context of all the events in the Oscara, a synthesis of realism and cubism is also evident. The viewer is also an outside observer for all attempts of the author to reach the main character and tell him the story. And that is what you can call an evidence of realism in the play. At the same time, cubism implies the use of clearly defined geometric shapes to represent real objects. The whole world in cubism is fragmented into separate stereometric elements. But this is how the compositional structure of the performance is formed. The author excludes chaos on the stage. The lines of moves are most often parallel, and the actions of the dancers are symmetrical. The theme of cubism is very vividly emphasized scenographically. Scenography is always special. At his disposal there are three zones: on the right and left side.

“Reading” the works of Pablo Picasso and Marcos Morau, there are much in common. There is no rigidly fixed plot, the viewer plunges into the ocean of education, travels through his own world in the past, present and future. In order to show the culture of Basque in various genre manifestations: in various myths, music and songs - from the oldest to the modern. All viewers have their own impressions, and they are based on the experiences of mankind.


 Is there really provocation and shocking content in the ballet of Jan Martens “SWEAT BABY SWEAT”
Daria Kozhemyako - PhD Candidate In Art History, Vice-Rector For Educational Work At The Educational Institution “Belarusian State University Of Culture And Arts”

Ian Martens’s ballet “Sweat Baby Sweat” is, first of all, a ballet for the thinking audience who is able to appeal to himself through the artistic images presented on the stage.
Almost every adult (the performance is marked 18+) in his life went through a situation of strong physical and psychological attachment to his partner. The story that takes place on the stage, first of all, is the story of the acute emotional connection of two people, and one of them is more dependent on these relationships. In the play, this position is given to the girl. She is constantly looking for a physical connection with her partner: hugs him, stands up on his knees, “climbing” onto him, as if trying to become the pinnacle of his universe, and is completely dependent on him. However, one awkward movement of a man, and the unity of their bodies will crumble. But at the same time, he is a doubting link in this love "construction" and constantly removes the girl from himself, not sure that he will bear this burden.

Balancing between the desire to succumb to feelings and abstracting from it, the characters live a lifetime. Their story is complete, but not finished. It is cyclical. This is indicated by light: a change in the direction of the light flux from vertical (the absence of shadows among the characters refers to the fact that the action takes place during the day, at noon, when there can be no shadows) to the front (warm light and, accordingly, long shadows from artificial lighting). Thus, the effect of multiple changes of day and night is achieved, while the relationship of the heroes continues. And such changes can occur indefinitely, until the characters themselves put an end to their relationship. Real life has the same basis - any relationships develop gradually and are often identified with the same doubts that are broadcast from the stage. When the performance comes to an end, the heroes crawl to the back of the stage, moving away from each other, then again change the course of movement and again begin to move towards, continuing the given cycle. This translates into reference to the endless repetition of these toxic relationships.

The demonstration of physical closeness between the characters of the play is played so accurately that it does not require attributive or light censorship. Vibration of bodies resembles breathing in unison, which once again emphasizes the unity of goals, thoughts and desires. Can’t but mentioned the episode when a man removes his beloved from himself, but even separately from her, her movements continue. The association that a viewer may have is not related to physical closeness, but to the woman’s ability to make a scene in any situation. Here she does not demonstrate love for her man, but blows his mind. Thus, leaving the dance vocabulary and using only the physical abilities of the body, resorting to it as a unique instrument, an absolutely life story is observed.

However, in fact, apart from these vibrations, nothing happens on the stage. If the audience does not have an internal monologue or they are not ready to listen to it, here the visual provocation comes, which consists in interacting through the contact of half-naked bodies (physical dialogue is out of the question). The emphasis in the production is made just on the stories that exist in the minds of the audience, and they are much brighter than the action that is broadcast from the stage. Through these associative connections there is an absorption of spectators’ attention, as well as the public’s true essence of what is happening.

Of course, the performance cannot be attributed to the immersive theater in its purest form. Immersive theater is, first of all, a promenade theater or a walk-in theater, a kind of quest in which the audience takes a direct part - interact (including verbally) with actors, influence the course of events, can be on stage, or in general, the stage space changes places with the auditorium. However, “Sweat Baby Sweat” can be called a performance that is based on immersive experience. Theater theorist and practitioner R. Biggin (Rose Biggin) explains the concept of immersive experience as an intense, fleeting, but at the same time temporary state that absorbs the viewer, draws him into psychologism, the atmosphere of the stage environment through any perception channels. The connection that is created between the subject (viewer) and the environment (the stage space in which the action develops) has a passive character: the environment affects perception, but there is no response - perception does not affect what is happening and is not its fundamental part. The production of J. Martens involves the viewer gradually. From observation the situation through understanding the essence of what is happening to identification yourself with the characters.

Sweat Baby Sweat offers much more than simple subject analyze and its action on the stage. If this work lay in the plane of fine art, then we could talk about the peculiarities of the perspective addressed by the author. The most common concepts are direct linear and reverse perspectives. The first is based on the simple laws of optics and involves the creation of an illusion of the dimensional depth of a flat image, that means, the image is directed from the viewer into the depth of the scene. The direct linear perspective is designed for a fixed point of view and presuppose a single common point for all the lines on the horizon. In other words, this is a direct, familiar and understandable view of things.

At the same time, when the image is viewed in the reverse perspective, objects expand as they move away from the viewer, as if the center of the vanishing line is not on the horizon, but inside the viewer himself. Thus, the reverse perspective forms an integral symbolic space oriented towards the viewer and suggesting his spiritual connection with the world of symbolic images. If we ignore the image and transfer to the area of meanings, then this is exactly what Jan Martens is doing: he minimizes the movement of his characters across the stage and does not express their thoughts and emotions with choreographic vocabulary - the main "words" of the language of dance. The viewer is paramount in what happens in the space of the theater hall, he is the very person who creates the symbolic space around himself and the heroes on the stage, endowing them with the properties and characteristics that he wishes. He (the viewer) creates an emotional background of what is happening on the stage, identifying himself with the heroes. In addition, it is this approach of full control of history without total attachment to observing the change of events that allows you to "get out" of what is happening (= be distracted from it) and return painlessly again.

In the final, it seems that the performance ends exactly when the audience finally “falls out” of the action (making noise, talking to each other, rustling with bags, maybe going to the exit, etc.). The final musical composition can be repeated as long as the viewer is ready to listen to it and remain focused on the lives of the characters, stay with them in their own moment.
In Belarusian print media, there is widespread information that “Sweat Baby Sweat” is “a concept of love where a man and a woman combine acrobatic power with a view of love that goes beyond all clichés. "The provocatively slow dance is based on different languages of the movement, such as butoh, yoga, circus acrobatics and rock and roll." This description corresponds to the name of the play, which literally sounds like "Потей, детка, потей." Thus, the idea is supported that on the stage one can expect a provocative action that goes beyond the artistic consciousness of the layman.

However, there is no explanatory information about what a butoh dance is, how it is connected with such physical practices as yoga and acrobatics. But it was knowledge of the basics of this choreographic movement that would remove the cliche of the provocativeness of what is happening on stage.
“Sweat Baby Sweat” is, first of all, a product of the physical theater, which is characterized by technical obsession and abstract vocabulary. The main artistic task of the physical theater is to convey with the body any essence, emotion, idea. The technique of this type of theater is based on various types of pantomime, clowning, acrobatics, ballet technique and dances of world nations. Its essence lies in the study of movements, abilities of the body, the ability to maintain physical balance, etc. The main principle of work is the interaction of actors through feelings, intuition and visibility, based on purely physical communication. The ultimate goal in such productions is to achieve harmony between internal experiences and their external manifestations, in other words to reach stage truth. Butoh dance concentrates all the best achievements of this variety of theatrical art.

Butoh is a Japanese avant-garde dance that was the result of Japan's withdrawal from World War II. The main thing in it is slow and precisely calibrated movements, while the dancer is a distant participant in what is happening. Among the many distinctive features of butoh dance, more than half are present in Sweat Baby Sweat, such as the search for a primary, even primitive state, which is reflected in scenes of an erotic and sexual nature, while the bodies in the performances are almost naked. The movements of the performers are smooth, deliberately slow, full of concentration. The personality of the dancer, as well as the beauty of the body or action, does not matter. The dancer does not appeal to the mind of the viewer, but to his feelings, talking about the desire for unity with nature, the merging of energies.

In the early stages of formation, the butoh dancers' faces were painted white, the actions were filled with extreme sports and seemed absurd, the performances could have no movements at all, and could be performed both in the presence of the audience and without them. And only at the post-modern stage (the last decade of the 20th - 21st centuries) the white paint disappeares from the faces, and art itself becomes one of the directions of modern dance. Currently, butoh is being introduced into the plastic theater, becoming one of its expressive means, while the tendency to use the human body as an instrument continues. It is used both as a subject and as an object, it may look devastated, or, conversely, be filled with new meaning. On the one hand, it loses its beauty, becomes imperfect, and on the other, it draws the attention of the viewer, recalling its weakness and vulnerability.
Ian Martens in his work through the human body explores desires, love and loss, balancing between narration and conceptualism. Thus, statements that the choreographer’s task was to create a provocative spectacle and to ballet “Sweat Baby Sweat” to shock the audience disintegrate on the essence of global trends in contemporary choreographic art.