Aliens in Ainaži. About a Wilderness Dance showing


Inta Balode

We are all aliens. We come from somewhere we don’t know, we go to somewhere we don’t know and we meet people we don’t know. Four young artists (Lotta Suomi, Ásrún Magnúsdóttir, Aust?ja Vilkaityt? and Lea Vendelbo Petersen) united under the title of „Foreign Mountain”, came from all those places they are from (Finland, Iceland, Lithuania and Denmark), lived for around a month in Ainaži and performed for me and two my friends, and around 20 more people. We enjoyed the show.

I didn’t understand anything, but it was better than I expected

That is the sentence I could use as a summary of the comments from my 71 and 76 year old friends. At the beginning they were quite surprised about the funeral music the lady was playing, because some of the melodies were definitely funeral repertoire. Though the last one was from famous Latvian movie don’t fall in this category. But the way it was performed made it sound like it does. Oh, everything might become funeral song, funeral flower, funeral way of dressing etc.

Anyway the performance called „Organ Orchestra” seemed quite good experience for my friends. Only in the beginning they thought that the girls have been eating something illegal. After they were watching as a real dance audience, they paid most of their attention to the performing qualities of the dancers. Both decided that the girl in the long dress was the best, also another blond was good. The one in shorts seemed somehow stiff; probably she is not born for dancing. Who was the forth one? In general my friends say that the time went very fast, and music was enjoyable as well. They are really appreciating the work which has been done, it is obvious that the thing they are doing is not easy at all, it demands a lot of strength, especially the parts with jumping and stomping the feet for so long. I asked their opinion about the elderly man who was smiling so much even if the work is not so comprehensive for inexperienced audience member. My friends said that of course he would smile when young and pretty girls jump in front of him!

Aliens or zombies?

I did enjoy my time I spent in the quiet lighting together with people who risked coming to contemporary dance performance. I had a moment of doubt whether performance is more about aliens or more about zombies. I think there is a bit of both. Avatarish tattoos on the faces convinced me more about aliens, the funeral music, dimmed light and batiks made me think about the times which are not alive anymore.

No matter from other planet, mountain of from the realm of the dead they seemed to had come here to be slightly ironic. To be ironic about both the place where they have arrived from and they place where they are. Allow me to call the place where there are from „contemporary dance” and the place where they had arrived „countryside”.

The ironic about the planet where they came from, i.e., „contemporary dance” was:

– batiks as the signs of old-fashioned way of dressing or even more about the paying a lot of attention to the way of dressing;

– funerals and cemeteries – as one of the major realities for elderly people and as pretty important part of Latvian culture in general;

– high tension performance – the use of good looking steps, the use of accents in the music and inspired, working hard dancing a lot;

– eclectic choices of dance and music – music is in charge, wherever rhythm takes you should follow, no matter how long is the song, you should dance till the end. It is nice to explore different music; it makes to look more open-minded.

The ironic about the planet where they came from, i.e., „contemporary dance” were:

– Choreographic solutions in connecting things together – it is not a good manner to link parts of the work with text, black-outs, some theatrical tools. The dance should be the one binding everything;

– Repetition – repetition is a nice tool which helps people to take in the movement, which gives chance to appreciate quality and which makes to see the movement as a movement not as a story progressing tool;

– Not telling too much – over explaining is the sign of the bad taste and of underestimating audiences judging abilities;

– Trying to perform in a way a normal person would perform – no virtuosity, no audience falling in love with dancers, democratic sharing atmosphere, trying to hide what’s learnt in order use is as springboard to be even more real than „real” people are;

– Breaking some rules, stepping over the usual – playing funeral music as a concert;

– Being socially involved and critical – putting the image of the Monument of Freedom in the program; dressing in batiks to criticize overdressing in countryside, use the batik long towels as a critique of the usual way of decorating premises on small villages; criticizing current contemporary dance trends to dance very little through choosing to move a lot.

On the other hand my friends didn’t find a piece ironic at all. And maybe they are absolutely right and I am building all of this up. Because I miss aliens.

Organ Orchestra_2, photo: Inta Balode