Impressions from jubilee dance forum

25th International Festival of Modern Choreography (IFMC-2012) in Vitebsk has finished with four Ukrainian dancers claiming prestigious awards. All four are pupils of Kiev’s Radu Poliktaru, who danced for ten years at our Bolshoi Theatre. He studied under famous Belarusian ballet master Valentin Yelizariev and has won the IFMC many times, now heading Kiev’s Modern Ballet Theatre
By Victoria Popova

The ‘jubilee’ inspired a truly spectacular event, with A Dance Tribute to the Art of Football, by Jo Strшmgren Kompani, launching the competition. The ballet entranced casual fans and professionals alike, proving still contemporary despite celebrating its 15th anniversary. The dancers’ elegance and amazing skill were evident immediately. Strшmgren’s work turns the world of football on its head, proving that any passion can appear dangerous or comic to observers. Even the daring male striptease within the performance didn’t meet with disapproval from Prof. Yulia Churko, Honoured Figure of Arts and a member of the festival’s expert council. However, unnecessary bareness in the French La Vouivre’s Oups ballet appeared tasteless.

The major thing lacking among some stage managers can be originality. Naturally, choreographers borrow from well-known ballets of the last century. Sadly, the traditional dance pair scenario seems to have been ‘ridden to death’; even variations on this (pairing two men or two women) fails to add a great deal. The IFMC stage lacked a great deal of innovation and there was much ‘inexplicable grieving’ as dancers flew about the stage in the beam of the spotlight.

The musical choices also tended to be quite predictable, featuring much Ravel and Handel. Singer Pelageya may hardly be suitable of course, compared to serious contemporary composers, and her songs wouldn’t suit original ballet works. Of course, it’s possible to dance even to the rhythm of dripping water from a tap. Japan’s Dance Creation Award chose this option, but disappointed us in only offering tawdry Matryoshkas jumping across the stage. As ballet critic Vita Mozūraitė advises, interesting music choices are vital. She explains, “If you can sing along with what you hear, it inspires a natural sympathy from the audience; people immediately feel involved when they hear familiar melodies.”

The international professional jury, headed by People’s Artist of the USSR Vladimir Vasiliev, noted the high technical level of the entrants, with almost every group demonstrating perfect knowledge and showing intricate combinations, as well as good partnership.

Heide-Marie Hдrtel is pleasantly surprised that the genre of dance is surviving so well in Eastern Europe. She asserts, “Today, many German choreographers install a screen and show a film clip, then portray something as random as knee surgery, calling it contemporary choreography. After your festival, my confidence is restored regarding what we’ve already lost: trust in your body and movement. Never lose this capability!”

American choreographer Wendy Perron believes that the short pieces boasted stronger content than the one-act ballets, which needed ‘serious editing’. Jury chairman Vasiliev added, “Choreographers need a head on their shoulders to edit well; you don’t need to include everything ever invented in every dance. Some of the 20 minute ballets were weak while some miniatures were a true revelation, almost bringing me to tears. This is the greatest achievement for an artist, when you can move your colleagues so sincerely.”

The jubilee forum left diverse impressions of strong dancers but a lack of talented ballet choreographers. We need clear heads on beautiful bodies while preserving the traditions so admired by foreign guests.
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