Orient Express From Eastern Helsinki (and Eastern Europe) with LOVE

New Philosophy in a New Venue (Saldus, Latvia)

  • Elena Jacinta & Elena Angelova
    Elena Jacinta & Elena Angelova
  • Elina Lutce
    Elina Lutce
  • Moa Matilda Sahlin
    Moa Matilda Sahlin

I visited the New Dance in the New Venue festival in Saldus (Latvia) on August 17-18. In the three morning lectures I gave for a dance writer workshop I discussed the (increasingly textual) role of the artist, future possibilities of criticism and criticism as art education.

This annual workshop has a great concept. It is about dance lessons and bodily excercises for critics, and theory for dance writers (often the same person). I have been teaching in these workshops now three years together with the Nice-based ballet teacher and fascia-theorist Annemari Autere. Last year we were in Cesis and the year before that in Rezekne. There is always a new city and new venue for this every year. And Inta Balode, who runs it, brings in theorists, dance teachers and critics. Some of them improvise something for the festival, some write about it in their home countries and some just hang around and take part in the workshop that is organized side by side with the festival. (Not all acts on this mini festival are connected with the workshop.) It is beautiful to see how every year this dance festival and workshop for dance professionals hits a new small town. Many people in the audience see for the first time a contemporary dance performance and that is beautiful.

Some good work was shown in this years festival. Elina Lutce's (LAT) Korpuss opened the festival. It was a Houdiniesque escape from a dress that could have been straight out of a Velasquez painting. It was a very straightforward and simple work, maybe a bit too simple for me, but I suppose you could think about it as object theatre. It was nice to watch the dress dropp on the floor, piece by piece. It is incredible how complex clothing women had to wear in courts. The feminist agenda was something I sympatized for, but for a more professional audience the political message was too obvious. On the other hand, this festival is for bringing contemporary dance to new sites and new audiences, and this kind of work could really be the best possible start for many new friends of contemporary dance.

Elena Jacinta (LT) and Elena Angelova (BUL) showed a (witty and mature) 'work in process' which was at the same time performing to be 'work in process'. I enjoyed very much its intellectualism and crooky dance improvisations. It was formal talk - a translator on stage! - and improvised dance. It dealt with plans, talk about dance and textuality in dance, without forgetting a good body movement. And it was close to what we call performance art in visual art.

Moa Matilda Sahlin's piece where she ironized bodily expectations and role games by and for women was truly fun and liberating to see. I seldom have so much fun on dance performances! She ran around the stage acting 'crazy' in an MTV music video fashion, then walked around with a cloud on her head and sometimes just talked. But it functioned, and I am still not sure why. Superb!

My suitcase gallery KLEIN followed me to the event and I showed Sinem Kayacan's film Fleshberry for the professional public. This was definitely the right place to do it. Dance people could both appreciate the idea of a mobile gallery and Kayacan's study of body details. The film is quite a chaos of sometimes even painfully sensual close-ups and cuts on bodily issues. It also seems that I got two new exhibitions for my gallery! Producer Sophie Louise Mönster said that I might be able to show some of this years Nordic 60secondsdance film competitioners' work and the New York based dancer and dance writer Will Rawls was interested in providing me with a small film piece.

Other teachers in the Saldus workshop included Luciana Achiugar (US/Uruguay) and Elina Gatjukevica (LT). They were both inspiring people and I feel blessed that I had this opportunity. What a great trip!

Being on a festival in Eastern Europe is always better than in the West. Better vibes, more relaxed and a lot of super idealistic people around. Less career games. I love it!

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