Apollo in Chisinau

A contemporary dance festival in Moldova was dedicated to the discussion of why human beings need freedom.   

The blessed Moldavia has completely disappeared from Russian citizens' active memory.  They now look to Chile for wines, and the fact that there is a Communist government in one of the first breakaway Soviet republics surprises many people to such an extent that they prefer not to delve into it any further. 

Moldova is an agrarian country.  Walnut trees grow alongside the roads, grape reigns in the fields.  The Chisinau Museum of Ethnography has the Moldavian black earth soil on display -- the same one that the Germans were exporting by trainloads during the war.  The Communist regime, deeply rooted since the Soviet times, enjoyed a wide appeal in the general population for a period of two decades. It is only now with the European Union's ever-growing ambitions and the increasing hope for receiving EuropeAid that the liberals are gaining more seats in the parliament. 

A small local contemporary dance society is significantly better prepared for changes than many others.  These people study every day, eagerly follow the events around the world, successfully integrating the national and the foreign in their workshops and productions. 

There are five key individuals in contemporary Moldavian dance: Angela Donii, Alexandra Soshnikova, Sergei Golovnya, Tatiana Popescu, and Vitali Yermichoy.   

Angela Donii, choreographer of the experimental "Eugene Ionesco" Theatre, one of the most progressive theatres in Moldavia, remained a leading figure in the community of people enthusiastic about contact improvisation and dance therapy even after she moved to Moscow.

Alexandra Soshnikova is head of the children's dance school "Fantezia" that numbers 300 students with ages ranging from 6 to 25 years old.  For over ten years she and Sergei Golovnya, a former ballroom dancer and violin player, have been directing a dance group "Voices" that has on numerous occasions taken prize-winning spots at the contemporary choreography festival in Vitebsk.   

Tatiana Popescu works as an artist at the Ionesco Theatre and an assistant at the contemporary dance and performance art festivals that are held in Chisinau whenever they become financially affordable.

Vitali Yermichoy, director of the festival and the Army House, ensures the festival's financial and organizational operation.   

The festival is established on the basis of a time-tested model: amateur performers work in audience halls through late afternoon, learning the techniques of contact improvisation and performance art (this time they are using the large halls of the Army House in downtown Chisinau); in the evening those same folks fill up theatre halls, while their instructors perform on stage the productions that they themselves had choreographed.    

The production "I Will Try" by instructor and choreographer Alexander Andriyashkin (Moscow, formerly from Novosibirsk) is a reflection on performance art as an interactive art form. The choreographer does everything he can to make the audience feel like they are taking part in the performance, thus turning the evaluations of the customary "pure observation" on their head.  Andriyashkin demonstrates a dance phrase with deliberate impassivity and asks the audience, "In your opinion, what is this dance missing?"  Then, depending on the answer, he either adds passion, or merriment, or speed.   He becomes a mirror for the audience's emotions, actively provoking people into expressing them.  He puts on the USSR national anthem and watches the audience's reaction: will they rise?  He tests their capacity for compassion: sits down on a chair in front of a wall and announces that the wall is moving in on him.  Together with the audience he is trying to create a grandiose performance -- hence the title, "I Will Try." The final  words of "I Will Try" are as follows:

If I could be without quotation marks at least at this moment, now

If you could watch without quotation marks at least at this moment, now

If we could be people without quotation marks at least at this moment, now

If I, if you, if we without quotation marks at least at this moment, now.


Festival owners Soshnikova and Golovnya showed their old production "Intimacies" that was staged for them by a wonderful Irish contact improvisation instructor, formerly a doctor in political philosophy and economics at Oxford, Steve Batts. It is a provocative improvisation for two: two old acquaintances ask each other pointed questions about personal life, looking into their partner's eyes during complicated lifts, runs and various stunts.  The task of maintaining the rhythm and controlling the plasticity pattern during conversations about unfaithfulness, fading beauty or smelly breath is not an easy one, even if you are paired up with a time-tested partner.  "Intimacies", much like the other productions staged by "Voices", demonstrates Soshnikova's and Golovnya's brilliant grasp of Moldavian stage dance and contemporary partnering techniques. 

"Freedom for", a solo work by Moscow choreographer Dennis Boroditsky, director of the Boroditsky Dennis Dance Company, provides plastic interpretation of the philosophical concept of freedom, which is vital to many initially as "freedom from", but later develops into a period of a much more complex and constructive conception of "freedom for." Boroditsky splits his solo performance into two parts in the manner of an abstract, neo-Balanchine dance. The first part, set to the heavy music of the band "Biopsyhoz", is full of rage, torment and struggle; the second part, set to the music of Bach, is filled with humility and illuminated by the ancient beauty of Apollo Belvedere: in the final scene Boroditsky strips down to his swimming trunks and assumes the pose of the famous statue. 

Personality, expressed through movement -- there were many people like that at the contemporary dance festival in Moldova.  And those people were present not only among the performers but also in the audience, which included studio directors from different corners of the former Soviet Union.


Ekaterina Vasenina


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