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Dance helps us perceive life anew

D.O.Z.SK.I Contemporary Choreography Theatre from Minsk wins two awards at 24th International Festival of Modern Choreography (IFMC) in Vitebsk, interpreting dance in a new way

By Vasilisa Petroshenko

The national competition of contemporary choreography brought together eight groups: two from Vitebsk, two from Grodno, three from Minsk and one from Mogilev. Headed by People’s Artiste of the USSR and Belarus Valentin Yelizariev, the jury recognised D.O.Z.SK.I’s About Ballet (staged by Dmitry Zalessky) for ‘Best Performance’ and ‘Best Technical Mastery’. In the first nomination, the jury assessed the idea and artistic concept, as well as the skills of the choreographer and performers. In the second, the technical level and artistry of the company was judged. The ‘Best Performance’ diploma is the equal of a Grand Prix.

Two years ago, D.O.Z.SK.I claimed the same victory — at the 22nd International Festival of Modern Choreography. Two of its one-act ballets won diplomas in the ‘Best Performance’ category: Rock-Paper-Scissors and Homo Sapiens, staged by Dmitry Zalessky and Olga Skvortsova-Kovalskaya.

The Minsk group has won several international awards to date, organised as part of the IFMC. In 2008, it took first prize in the ‘One-Act Ballet’ nomination for Maturity while, in 2010, Dmitry Zalessky was given first place in the ‘Choreography Miniature’ nomination — for Nothing in Common. Last year, he also received the Yevgeny Panfilov Award, given to the best choreographer at an international event.

Translation, staged by the Vitebsk Culture Centre Studio’s Diana Yurchenko, Sergey Tolkach and Marina Kushnerova, won the ‘Choreographer’ nomination, while soloists from the Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts’ Choreography Department — Alexander Filippov and Alla Pogodskaya — won the ‘Artistry’ nomination for Let’s Remember.

The jury awarded Vlad Tereshchenko’s Liber-Tango project (Grodno) in the ‘Post Scriptum’ nomination, ‘For Purity of Style’. Meanwhile, Loneliness, performed by Mogilev’s Alesya, won a diploma ‘For Expression and Sincerity’.
The forum is the first festival of contemporary dance within the former USSR and is considered to be one of the most prestigious in the sphere of modern choreography in the CIS and Europe.

At this year’s IFMC, the Spanish and Canadians presented unexpected ‘hybrids’: mixing break-dance and hip-hop with classical ballet and contemporary trends. Canadian Rubberbandance Group, which headlined the festival, gave us Centre of Gravity (90 minutes). Their free interchange of pairs, solos and ensembles on the topic of social vulnerability explored our age of consumption. We can communicate in so many ways — by phone, Skype, Twitter and VKontakte — yet often lack fundamental values. Montreal choreographer Victor Quijada cries out for ‘something to be done’ and assures us that only art can encourage us to comprehend and act. He may be right.

Spanish dancers Alvaro Esteban and Elias Aguirre chose the insect world to parallel that of human existence in Entomo, comparing the pointless banality of insect behaviour with that of the ‘petty bourgeois’ of the 19th century and today’s robotic culture of consumerism.

The Surrender, by the Yevgeny Panfilov Ballet Company, was the festival’s ‘dancing crescendo’. Dance expert Larisa Barykina muses, “The performance shows the world on the verge of disaster. In fact, some would view that as optimistic. I think we are inevitably falling into the chasm. Surrender is always humiliating and we have already surrendered to vulgarity in all its alluring and disgusting forms. We have surrendered to greyness. The rebellion of the masses, of which Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset warned us, has occurred and God has stopped governing the world’s fate — whatever humanity believes.” Many of the performances were far from joyful.

Dmitry Zalessky adds, “I’m glad that the Spanish company was invited this year, as they are a good example of modern choreography and expressive mime. Our D.O.Z.SK.I Theatre is in synch with European trends and is soon to give a joint, powerful, modern performance with the Polish Zawirowania Dance Theatre, at the Belarusian Drama Theatre in Minsk.”

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