Dance.lv in 2019 have interviewed a range of interesting dance artists who have in one or another way influenced Latvian dance scene; as well as spoken to several Dance Prize nominees to cherish their journeys and achievements as artists and dance lovers.
The Dance Prize is Latvia’s highest award for professional dance art – ballet, contemporary dance, contemporary and performing folk dance. It was presented for the first time on April 29, 2019 for outstanding achievements in year 2017 and 2018. The full list of nominees can be found at www.dejasbalva.lv.
On February 19, 2019 happened the first event in the cycle “Deja domā. Dejas balvu gaidot” [Dance thinks. Waiting for Dance Prize] organized by the Latvian Dance Information Center (LDIC). The cycle provided an opportunity to meet with the nominees of the newly created national award – the Dance Prize.
A warm interview with Juris Gogulis, nominee for a Dance Prize as a Folk Dance choreographer and for his dance work “Vēja stāsts” [Tale of the wind], shares his patriotic feelings and strong Latvian identity. He talks about wanting to strengthen Latvian dance sector and shares his view on what’s missing. “I want Latvians to have more faith, to show greater ambition, especially in the cultural sphere, to show the desire to bring out our wealth.”
Interview with Ivars Broničs, a nominee for a Dance Prize in category Contemporary Dancer talks about his journey of becoming a professional dancer and dance lover. He is described to have an incredibly professional attitude and respect for his colleagues and as a dancer to have a great stage presence and an ability to be vulnerable yet confident.
A nominee for Dance Prize for a children’s dance work “Čipolīno” – Irina Saveļjeva – finds important “to work honestly and in an interesting/engaging way for oneself”. “Čipolīno” is her first dance performance for children, which she found to be a challenging yet exciting learning experience. Irina emphasises her interest in combining and merging different art genres to a point you can’t tell where one finished and other one begins. For example, in staging this work the dancers attended pole dance lessons as well as tried mastering elements of Poi performance.
Uldis Šteins – choreographer and dance pedagogue – received the Dance Prize for a lifetime investment. In the interview he talks through folk dance history and development, about the difference of dancing being a paid profession and heart thing – hobby. Our Latvian Dancing festival is built on people who love to dance, not paid to do so. He criticises the unified repertoire all folk dance collectives need to follow to the smallest detail to prepare for the Dancing Festival. Uldis believes it leaves no room for the “feeling” of doing it right and doesn’t allow any regional differences that are beautiful in their own ways.
Annija Kopštāle is a ballet artist at the Latvian National Opera and Ballet, nominated for the “Dance Prize 2017–2018” in the category “Classical Dancer”. In her interview she talks about the struggle as a child of having to learn to believe in herself when the tough ballet world pointed out only her downsides. She says she felt so ready for the ‘big world’ after graduating just to realise the hardest and most important work was only about to start and it’s a difficult transition to go from having teachers who push you daily to being your own motivator.
Interview with Jana Jacuka – dancer and choreographer, graduate of the Latvian Academy of Culture. She was nominated for the “Dance Prize 2017–2018” in the category “Contemporary Dancer”. She says she is very happy about the nomination, because it proves her childhood dream of becoming a dancer has come true – the public recognises her as a dancer.
Interviews with dance artists who have in one or another way influenced Latvian dance scene:
Lead soloist in Hamburg Ballet, gives us an insight in her passionate career as a Latvian dance artist working abroad. She talks about the dark behind the scenes life of the ballet and about working together with her husband Edwin Revazov.
Anna Novikova is the only certified “ContaKids” teacher in Latvia. She talks about her classes and the intentions behind them, talks about the importance of strengthening a physical bond between children and adults in a free, playful manner, especially for those Latvians who might be more reserved and closed off bodily, and find it hard to accept new and different.
We find out about her thought process behind making her first solo work “Naktene” [Nightshade]. She talks about her interest in continuous movements that starts from her lap – the centre of her body and in the work represents an ever-changing process that all humans are drawn into. She says through her work she wants to encourage looking closer at individuals on an intuitive level and rediscovering them through stereotypes and imposed social layers.
A precious and honest video interview with legendary Vija Vētra – Latvian dancer and choreographer and leading classical Indian dancer in Latvia – takes us on a journey into her colourful life where her determination and creative passion lead her through most difficult times like war and years of famine as a refugee. She talks about her close connections to India and how when reading about it the first times at a young age, she felt as if she already knew all about it, and reading was just a fresh reminder. She talks about our bodies being dual – from waist down we are earth, from waist above – sky. Like a tree – a beautiful symbol of a human, with roots in the ground and branches into sky. Vija talks about teaching Indian dance and how she started that by studying it from a book, because it was important to start somewhere. Only years later she was invited to India to officially study the dance.
The Latvian National Opera and Ballet creed a new production called “Trīs draugi” [Three friends] after the famous novel by E. M. Remarque. Dmitrijs Gaitjukevičs (the assistant and co-author of choreography ) shares his thoughts on the process of staging the new ballet production, as well as his creative work in pedagogy and art. It’s interesting to learn that his way of choreographing involves agreeing to movements he’s created and amending them, replacing them before they’re set in work, which is complete opposite from the main choreographer Sergejs Zemļanskis’s way of working. Despite the differences there’s mutual trust and respect between them and they work well together.
A Latvian ballet dancer working with Boris Eifman Ballet Theater – gives readers a very detailed and personal insight into a life and training of a young ballet dancer in Moscow State Academy of Choreography. Long hours, high motivation and determination to reach self-set goals seems to be the backbone of all of it, even at young age.
The main photo: the first event in the cycle “Deja domā. Dejas balvu gaidot” [Dance thinks. Waiting for Dance Prize]