Lithuanians and Germans between laughter and seriousness

05/14/2012

Dita Egl?te

After seeing several Lithuanian performances I really appreciated the chance to see it as possessing large variety. Often at the international festivals it is possible to see performances by many other countries but almost nothing out of local events. That’s why it is so good that next to presenting foreign guests New Baltic Dance’12 also gives insight into the local processes. Already on the first night when we see Lithuanians, there are two pretty different performances: one serious, another – comic.

Erika Vizbaraite and Lithuania

Choreographer and dancer Erika Vizbaraite adds a national hint to her work though the huge cardboard sketch of stylized national costume which is located in the left corner of the Small hall. Also her costume is in a decent grey color and she is wearing lace patter knitted socks. During all the performance time a man dressed in black is sitting on the stage who episodically plays vargan. The performance is called Ladderand the ladder, as the dancer shows, permanently leads somewhere and pushes to make choices. As the national costume „sign” is hanging in the background, I read the ladder as the road to universe including national awareness, the God and everything else. Erika i a very energetic and light way repeats different movement sequences, the training in classical dance is obvious, it is pleasure to watch her. The small performance is clearly built and aesthetically clean.

Lithuania in the performance by Aust?ja Vilkait?te

The context for the work of young artist’s work in progress is cruel because it is already the fourth day of the festival, there is certain tiredness in the perception, the performance is shown in a very small space, where there is even not enough room for everybody. And in addition to that the big part of the performance is text in Lithuanian so I cannot understand it. But I do understand that in this case text matters. In order to understand what the audience is laughing about. It seems that I don’t like anything, everything seems too long (also the fact that the performances instead of promised 20 min was stretched to 40 minutes) and I just want to get out. However on the next day time to time in my thought I return to the performance and its details with great pleasure.  Aust?ja Vilkait?te in her work „Dear Lithuania” („Lietuva brangi”) without piety has put together in the interesting collage, for example, cliché ideas about the first years of independence in Lithuania and bedraggled sentences about patriotism. But in her attitude towards those things there is no neglectful grin. It is possible to understand that the artists thinks about those topics, attempts to find some parallels in history, in arts in herself. It would be very interesting to watch the whole thing again with translations and some knowledge of context, which together with original findings and witty details (for example conductors robe as dervish’s blanket) would create new sense and different story in my perception. After watching all the Lithuanian performances this one will turn out to be the most interesting, colorful and intriguing.

Kaunas/ AURAs sea

Aura Dance Theater from Kaunas in their performance „Sea” tells three parallel stories which are almost not related among them. On the association level they are linked: musical conversation with the sea in the work „Sea” by the composer’s M. K. ?iurlionis; Aura’s story about the harsh surviving circumstances of fish (humans) in the polluted environment; and the third story is video story about the fish factory. Music is beautiful and its finale is even very much life confirming as opposed to the full of concern dance story seen on the stage. It’s also hard to understand the sense of video story because does ecology has a lot to do with being vegan? However the joy and satisfaction comes from the fact how all generations of Aura dancers are included in the unified performance (choreographer and artistic director of Aura Dance Theater is Birute Letukaite). Movement material is created according to dancers’ skills – older and more experienced dancers do more complicated things, younger ones- something easier. Particularly spectacular is the organization of rolling across the stage from one wing to another – it seems that the dancers’ wave will never end. Clumsiness is obvious in the costumes of ensemble. Not always it is necessary to make special costumes and this is the case when it’s definitely not a must. However it looks that the costumes are picked form dancer’s wardrobes without particular attention, though even two costume designers are mentioned in the program notes.

Hip-hop „Dirty dancing”

In the context of street dance the performance by dancers and choreographers Airida Gudaite and Laurins Žakevi?us „Feel Link” is too “clean” and “clear”. Regardless two big garbage urns (very clean and could that they even had some nice smell) on the right side. Pointed Airida’s feet, warm lighting, haircut and jeans as in sweet eighties…Nothing of promised in the program notes conflicts within the different phases of female/male relationship. Nevertheless it is a pleasure to watch nicely trained, alive and athletic dancers’ bodies – because it’s pretty, conflict-less hip-hop ballet.

Jankauska’s four

Visually appealing, well-made and with easy to perceive performance “frame” is also the performance “Moving Targets” by Vitis Jankauskas Dance Company. The performance talks about humans in urban environment.  The routine boredom rules there and people look over and by each other. Monotonous movement sequences are repeated and the emotions remain hidden within. However it seems that they are talking about somebody else, not about themselves. I don’t believe that those artists have so boring and dull lives.

The graphic aspects are very important in this performance – most of the time dancers move on white square perimeter only episodically the meet in the black square in the center. There are moments when dancers split into couples dance synchronously in the duets. On one hand it is impossible to meet two equal histories of relationship, but on the other – may be the urban environment has ability to make everything so indistinctive that even the relationships copies each other. Dancers in this performance are dressed with taste in casual costumes that fit well together; also the lighting is warm and pleasant to the eye. Still as the whole the performances message seems to be too ready, without development and intrigue.

Men in black or „Fish Eye”

During this performance I realize that Lithuanian dancers like priest’s coats with long chain of buttons. They are used already for the second time. In the work by artists’ group „Fish Eye”No Space at the Parking Lot” next to those coats are several changing all the way till underwear ( also a popular “costume” among dancers) and tuxedos…Metal rods also experience different transformations, developing variations about men’s games (tanks, swords etc.). During the thirty five minutes of performance the whole heap of ideas about the men’s world is fit in, but actually the story is very simple – about understanding and not-understanding between two men. When audience enters the performance has already started – both men fight between themselves, at the end each of them stays alone in the darkness. Does it mean that the fight has much more hope than the darkness?

„Fish eye” shopping mall

One of the dancers of just described duet – Petras Lisauskas – on the other day performs in a duet with choreographer Inga Kuznecova in the niche of empty store of the shopping mall Europa. Fitting well to the prettiness of shopping mall also the small performance space is arranged with taste in contemporary manner. Almost realistic environment of the flat is “decorated” by huge number of colorful sticker notes. Might be that they symbolize the large amount of many details eating up the romanticism of the beginning of love. Duties, tasks, reminders. It is silly that dancers in an illustrative way do many things with those notes (by the way they are blank) – remove them and rumples (and I have to think that till the next performance they have to stick them back). The same illustrative packing happens with the apples. If the “apples case” wouldn’t be so stretched, I would see nice reference to the Garden of Eden. Even sillier seems the attaching to pegs: first to girl’s hair, then to man’s face. Though a witty thing is the cartoon on TV screen which has many and changing girls in the bed. If the performance had such a rhythm and irony then we could call „the project of shopping center” a successful chance for by passer to meet contemporary dance. Choreography is that lively and still not complicated so stranger wouldn’t torture too much. And yes – all that would have much more sense if the performance really was open to the by passers in the shopping mall. During both performing times when the performance had started the blinds gut pulled down. I don’t believe there was anybody by chance audience member. Then what’s the point for festival guests and audience to get over to the shopping center on the other side of the river?

Germans in the shopping mall and in sweded movies

The answer to the question “why shopping mall?” was given by the second event happening in the same store. Only on the first floor among cafes and stores of expensive watches, available for free and really understandable for any by passer. Four dance from German dance company Silke Z./resistdance for twenty minutes were improvising among themselves and met by chance audience members, they communicated without words.

The performance created by choreographer Silke Z. Sweded – life as a copy” on the next day turned to be one of the most wonderful experiences of the festival. The power of the performance lies within found balance between comic and dramatic, between movement and movie languages, between reality and symbols, between clichés and uniqueness. The performance starts with an excerpt from mute cinema (trying to guess – original or remake),where the lead role is played by…mirror. On both sides of it “dwarfs” are jumping, but the performance story possibly will continue about our passion to mirroring – in movie screens, real mirrors, wish to be as somebody else around us while forgetting that mirrors can be also awry. This is one those cases when the seen when put into words might sound banal, because the idea of performance is deeper and more ambiguous. I’m enchanted by simple and at the time subtle constructions of the performance, dancers’ lightness and quality of movement, intelligent humor in the reconstructions of movie classics and charming acting of dancers. Performance that right after it ends makes you to want to see again.