The XVIth Festival took place in Vitebsk on 26
– 30 November 2003. The International Competition
constituted the main part of the event. In one
way or another, the schedule of the Festival was
tightly linked to rehearsals and performances
of the competitioners. The scheme of the event
remained unchanged. The closed round of the Competition
was held in Cultural –Business Center and in the
main hall of the Jakub Kolas Dramma Theatre, where
the Jury, critics, journalists and the participants
moved to in the afternoons. As usually there was
not enough time for rehearsals. But thanks to
the team of the Simon Davydenko, Chief Lights
Engineer of the festival, no serious failures
occurred and no official claims were laid to the
administration of the Festival. As for scenery
for the performances, with the exception of the
choreographic group of Moscow Chamber Ballet,
no extra efforts were applied.
turned really spectacular show. 26 companies-participants
greeted the audience in a choreographic way –
with mini pieces form their performances. The
spectators were not against an independent concert
– acquaintance and were ready to grant the performers
with the spectator’s sympathy prizes not waiting
for the Jury’s final decision. Then there was
a storm of applauses for the Founders of the Festival,
the members of the International
Jury and invited critics.
The opening was intentionally built of the performances
of such companies, which could hardly be regarded
as the representatives of the modern choreography.
From the other side, two antipodes – break dance
and clasical ballet, demonstrated the essence
of the dance as the mean of plastic influence.
The first performed «MovesPerMinute»
Dance Company from Sweden with the dance play
«4». For the leader of the company and for the
other members, «break-dance» and «hip-hop» during
15 years became a stable life position. It was
very peculiar to make the following observations
about this company. Andreas – a citizen of well-developed
postindustrial society, the representative of
subculture (please do not confuse with subproducts),
which is not in the center of attention of mass
media, is referring to the primordial world. Look,
«hip-hop» is based on 4 main pillars: break, graffiti,
rap and DJs. Four sides of the world. Four elements.
Four seasons. At the end – a very specific formular
4 x 4. The third work of the «MovesPerMinute»
company addresses the issue of the nature’s micro
and macro levels, the desire to dissolve inside
of the wind and fire, to experience their might
and mind. And all this is reached with the help
of «break-dance». The performance practically
used all types of the dance: «breaking» – gymnastic
achievement, «robot» – the exact copy of automatic
movements, «electric» – convulsiveness of electric
charges, «king tat» – a specific symbolic by the
means of hands, «locking» and etc. The work is
undoubtedly associative, but well and artistically
thought original video row doesn’t let us to lose
the thread of the author’s thoughts. The company
from Sweden for sure won the sympathy of the audience
and participants, even of those, who were quite
suspicious about «break-dance».
On the opposite pole of the dance world was the
company of the Belarussian State Musical Theatre,
very brisk representative of the classical ballet.
But first, let me tell you two stories. The first
one started ten years ago when the leading Masters
of the Musical Theatre Julia Dyatko and Konstantin
Kuznetsov presented for the IFMC competition the
work of one young choreographer. The miniature
didn’t manage to make to the second round. After
the results of the first round were announced,
the author appeared in the Jury’s room and directed
himself to the Head of the Jury Mr. Elizaryev
and, openly, and in rather harsh form accused
the Festival in choreographic discrimination and
profanation. It is difficult to say what it cost
the Head to stand all this onset and in a very
soft and polite manner to convince the choreographer
in the opposite. But it was very notable incident.
The second story. A choreographer, whose ballet
was in the Competition programme, didn’t show
up in Vitebsk. He was busy with staging «Romeo
and Juliet» in Moscow. This man was the young
choreographer from the first story. The name of
this outstanding choreographer is Radu Poklitaru.
The greeting of the master was recorded and showed
with the help of video projector. In this video
presentation Radu recalled this 10 years old story
and said that he regarded Vitebsk Festival as
a moment of a great significanse to his creative
activity. Nobody expected these words to be said.
Festival is grateful for such candour. Then there
was one-act ballet «In
Pivo Veritas». The work is based on Irish
folk music and dance of the Renaissance. According
to the words of the author, the ballet is not
aspire to some deep philosophical «veritas» and
is not lost in the deepness of the implication.
This is a pure dance about life, love and, as
it is not strange for a classical ballet, is about
beer (pivo). All these combined provided spectators
with «light – alcoholic» pleasure.
November 27 was the Russian Ural region day.
But geographical factor is the only unifying force
for all the performances, which were showed that
day. Each ballet had its own autor’s style and
Sergey Smirnov remained a black horse for the
Vitebsk Festival until the day of his performance.
With the works of his company the Direction of
the Festival was acquainted only through video
recordings. After Smirnov’s performance «Voice»
became a Laureate of the National Theatrical Award
of Russia «Golden Mask’2002», it became obvious
– we need to meet. A voice of a human body or
a voice via plastic of a body? To be or not to
be – alone or together, is it more comfortable?
How to be heard? How and what to hear? These eternal
questions were highlighted in the performance.
The work was really appreciated by the audience.
The creative activity of Olga Pona, choreographer,
artistic manager of the Chelyabinsk Modern Dance
Theatre, is full of social aspects. The distinctive
feature of the artist is the absence of fake patriotism.
There are no speculations about the mysterious
side of the Russian soul. The performances are
experiencing past and present, looking into the
future. But they do not «point out the right way»
– there is no messianic ambitions in the works.
This year Vitebsk was lucky to see the performance
the Laureate of the «Golden Mask’2003» Award.
The precursor to the performance were the words
of John Steinbeck, «In Russia they always thought
about the future. About the next year’s crop,
about comforts, which would be in 10 years, about
the clothes, which would be made soon. If there
exists a nation capable to extract energy from
hopes, it is undoubtedly Russians».
The Theatre of Evgeny Panfilov was anticipated
in Vitebsk again. The concert program «You’ll
recollect me and all my world not once...» which
was made up from choreographic miniatures of the
Master, was accepted by the spectators with delight.
Some miniatures look quite naive nowadays, but
still evolve very light emotions. It is impossible
to determine the secret of success. Nothing extraordinary
from the point of choreography, idea, staging
is taking place. Simply «Tender
Night» is really tender, «Without You» – is
without you, «Farewell» – is farewell. «Chinese
Knick – Knack», performed by Sergey Raynik,
as before is a big and small tragedy at the same
danced by Alexey Kolbin – is a standard of a jester.
It is impossible not to be thankful to the Theatre
and its former soloist, today teacher – coach,
Nataliya Maslenyikova – for preserving the works.
Natalya received the special prize of the Festival.
It is also impossible not to be grateful for Sergey
Raynik – soloist and now the artistic manager
of the Theatre – not only for very remarkable
expression and vividness of images in Panfilov’s
miniatures, but also on another occasion. The
Theatre continues to live. Being an author’s project
in the past, today it will be different for sure.
Besides creative heritage, the theatre will acquire
the experience of news works. «Black
Quadrant» – the first independent big performance
by Sergey Raynik wasn’t noticed during the Competition.
The International Jury and the invited critics
came to common opinion that the performance didn't
really suit the expected context of the Competition.
At the same time the audience valued the stylish
manner and mastery of performance.
It is always difficult to describe the results
of the Competition. Everybody has got it’s own
partiality. It is to be understood that every
member of the Jury has got its own subjective
opinion. This year
Grand Prix’2003 was not awarded to any company.
It is noteworthy that this variant of design was
approved as an official Grand Prix of the Festival.
The original was designed and made by Vitebsk
artist Sergey Baburo. It happened so that Chinese
dancers didn’t take the Highest Prize of the Festival
to China this time. Nevertheless it happened to
hear such phrases as «We have come to Vitebsk
for the last time». But why? Why there is nothing
to be ashamed of in not receiving Sent Denis Award?
And why «Golden Mask» is hold every year? And
what to do if you are not invited to stage your
choreography on ADF?
In the nomination «one-act ballet» there were
four Laureate diplomas. Two second prizes of the
Competition went to the «Fine 5» Dance Theatre
from Tallinn, Estonia for the performance «Two
Trains». And to the Company «Okoyem» from Ekatherinburg,
Russia for the ballet «Yellow Pages». «Two
Trains» - professionally staged by two experienced
and talented artists – Tiina Ollesk and Rene Nommik.
The creative potential of two, dedicated to the
dance, art masters, allows them to feel free in
realisation of any ideas. Smart and neat minimalism
of «trains» concentrates attention, charms by
gleams of mirrors, ideas and people who are looking
for each other. If to talk about some specific
aesthetics of the modern Estonian dance, «Fine
5» is the best possible example. «Yellow
Pages» is very figuratively choreographic.
Through the husk of days and years, which tightly
chokes up «pores» of life, by some miracle break
through telephone calls from the past recollections.
And, according to the author’s – Alexander Gurvich,
idea, only separate, yellow pages of recollections
appeared to be real fragments of the past.
Two first prizes in the nomination «one-act ballet»
were granted to Beata
Ovcharek and Janush Skubachkovski from «TOC»
theatre from Krakow, Poland and «Eccentric Ballet»
of Sergey Smirnov from Yekaterinburg, Russia.
The idea of the Polish performance «So
Plain», is not so plain at all. The performance
tells us about two lonely people, who are terribly
tired from their loneliness. A woman in front
of the chancel of idyllic dreams and a man, who
lost his last hope. The Chance, which life presents
them with, helps them find the sense of life.
He and she are tired... tired of themselves. A
meeting of speculative anticipation and necessity
in real self-sacrifice in love, leads to some
intricate relationship. The positive idea of the
performance calls us to love not something ephemeral
but a life microcosm of the second half. And this
idea is presented very convincingly and touchingly.
The «freshmen» of the Festival - the artists
from choreographic company «Eccentric Ballet»
of Sergey Smirnov from Yekaterinburg looked in
Vitebsk as concentrated, reserved self-supplying
system. The holders of «Golden Mask'2003» Theatrical
Award didn't ask, showed no interest, accurately
visited rehearsals and performed. Now the time
has come to share the ideas regarding the performance
should not flatter yourself on the matter of abstract
human society, which exists in the performance.
There are enough analogies to us. In two steps
from the dancers, there is a way out from the
hopeless situation. Invisible line, a door, which
attracts and lures, promises changes. Everybody
is just ready to cross this line, but realize
that something is to be sacrificed. They do understand
that probably there is no heaven, but at the same
time they have no other exit. The heroes are tearing
their shirts, trembling from fear, on bending
knees are reaching out their arms towards the
door... But still no, suppose what if it is worse
there. Finally resoluteness fades away and all
ends with stupid dancing’s and excuses. Though
it seemed that nothing could be worse. Everybody
is looking for exit. The second part of the performance
is symbolic. Bright orange, which accidentally
survived among the darkness of disillusionments
and is the only source of hope to understand what
is happening, was simply eaten and thrown away.
In the nomination «choreographic miniature» the
prizes were awarded to «Dongfang»
Dance Company, Xanchzhoy, People's Republic of
China and to the duet of Kristin Schmidt and Peggy
Ziehr from Berlin, Germany. For the first time
in the history of the Festival the Chinese dancers
presented the performance on a social topic. The
technic of dance is as usually perfect, high level
choreography, but everybody expected from the
Chinese something different. In the previous years,
miniatures were mostly philosophical, not materialistic.
The miniature - Laureate «F» was completely clear.
There was nothing new, except for the technical
moments, in the performance of the Chinese choreographer
It is high time to congratulate German choreographer
Tim Plegg with deserved success, which he could
share with his high-level dancers Kristin Schmidt
and Peggy Ziehr. There were different opinions
on the context of the performance «Home
Included». Here is one of them. The character
of the miniature, one in two faces, while bathing
is plunging into memories. Joyful soap bubbles
and imagination calls back her childish ingenuousness
and playfulness. Some time later the conflict
arises between returned back to life childhood
and the adult «Ego». The principles and disposition
of the sides are incompatible. The childhood is
defeated by its own pragmatic and compromise future.
The memories are hiding back to the past, to the
As it was mentioned before, the special prize
«Teacher – coach» was awarded to the balletmeister
of the «Ballet of Evgeny Pànfilov» Theatre Natalya
Maslennikova. Among other special prizes there
were: the Jury's special prize «For Artistry»
- given to the Workshop of Elena
Konnova. The miniature «...He will come with
the snowfall» is noticed for its brilliant sense
of humor and artistry of the dancers. The award
«Debut» was given to «Scream» Dance Group from
Samara, Russia. The ballet of Elvira Pervova «Strange
People» was whole and comprehensive. Not only
the Jury, but the spectators also appraised the
dynamics and specific lively narration. Officially
recognized Belarusian success became one act ballet
«In the Face of the Sky» by Inna Aslamova, Gomel.
Her group of modern choreography «Quadro» once
again presented author's very correct direction
towards meditations. It is important to add that
the performance doesn't have any narrative conflict
with Bach's music.
The Critics Award was given to the Company of
Modern Dance of the Russian Chamber Ballet «Moscow».
Awarding the Prize, the Head of the Critics Section
Larisa Barykina mentioned among other factors
undoubted professionalism of the dancers and creative
efforts of such choreographers as Elena Bogdanovich,
Lika Shevchenko, Natalia Fiksel, Roman Kislukhin.
She also paid attention to the co-operation of
the company with famous European choreographers,
who recognise the craftsmanship of the group.
This year the ballet danced the premier performance
«The Rite of Spring» by Regis Obadia on music
by Igor Stravinsky. So, the opinion of the Jury
and the critics coincided. «The
Rite of Spring» really could be regarded as
one of the best large scale performance which
was ever presented on Vitebsk stage. The special
«Evgeny Panfilov memorial Award», which was established
one year ago by common agreement of the Jury,
the critics and the Direction of the Festival,
this year it was awarded to the choreographer
of «Eccentric Ballet» Company Sergey
Smirnov. The main difference of the Panfilov's
memorial Award from other prizes of the Festival
is that it is awarded not to the performance as
a whole but to a choreographer only. The smallest
participant of the Competition - four years old
was given the special prize by the chief editor
of «Ballet» magazine Valeria Uralskaya. For the
part of Alice in a miniature "Fairy Tale
for Adults" by Vitebsk Choreographic Studio
«Parallels», Polina was awarded with Teddy Bear
toy and a year subscription for a children variant
of the «Ballet» magazine.
Concerning to what was left behind the Competition
and public concerts, the participants of the Festival
know about this much more than we do. According
to many eye-witnesses, the meeting of Director
of School - studio «Cannon Dance» Vadim Kasparov
from St. Petersburg, Russia, with people who are
interested in the art management and PR policy
of a dance company, was successful. Kasparov was
sharing his priceless knowledge, gained during
the years of his personal experience in the conditions
of post-Soviet realities. The participants were
sincerely thankful for concrete, gratuitous assistance.
The chief editor of «Dance Magazine» Wendy Perron,
NY, the USA took an active part in the works of
the critics section. During our e-mail correspondence
we got to know very peculiar fact. It happened
that Wendy's grand-grand-mother came from Vitebsk,
she immigrated to the USA at the beginning of
the last century. The whole day on the eve of
the Festival, Wendy Perron had an excursion around
the city. She acquainted with the history of Vitebsk
and its landmarks. During the rest of the Festival
the American guest presented Vitebsk dancers with
master-classes and video-tutorials, presented
the participants and the press with modern tendencies
in the contemporary American dance. About Wendy's
personal impressions from the Festival, we'll
get to know from her essay in the nearest future.
Her coming to Vitebsk became possible thanks to
the «Dance Theater Workshop».
In conclusion I would like to thank all those
who took part in the IFMC 2003, and also to those
who are not going to come to Vitebsk anymore.
Let's hope that the organization and participation
in the Festival will not take too much efforts.
Let the creativity and recognition remain with
The above report «Notes from the backstage» is
written by Edward Chernivchan, an executive director
of the festival and pluralistically a presenter
of the festival events. I declare that it's not
to be considered as review. The point of view
of journalists, critics and art experts is available
in «IFMC'2003 Reviews».
Photos IFMC'2004 by Igor Gusakov.