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Soviet Gesture. Introduction (in-progress)

As dance artists who focus on experimental practices with strong somatic approach we trace our professional roots to the heritage that Isadora Duncan left in Soviet Russia in the beginning of 20th Century, rather than Russian Ballet traditions. This is the reason, why we put her name in the title of our cooperative, which could mean the Grief of Isadora Duncan and, at the same time, a wordplay with the title of the famous book by Korney Chukovsky Fedorino Gore. It started as a joke, but later we found some truth behind it. The grief is about the tragedy of interrupted development of modern dance in our country.

We currently work on the project that researches the heritage of experimental dance practices, that were formed in the Russian Empire (by Duncan’s and Dalcroze’s followers as well as self-made practitioners) and were maintained after the Revolution by numerous studios and even special department at The Russian Academy of Artistic Sciences (a part of huge social experiment of early Soviet Government). Almost all studios were forced to close in the beginning of 1930s and the accumulated practice was reduced to hygiene approach of Soviet gymnastics, that better served the ideology of new political course and parades of unified people masses. Classical ballet and ensembles of ‘folk’ dance also served totalitarian ideology well, so they were carefully preserved and highly supported as the only allowed forms of dance practice for sixty years until Perestroika happened.

We became interested in this topic after years of studying and teaching theory and practice of contemporary dance that mainly represent the history of Western culture (European and American).

From our artistic and teaching work we have realised that it is not easy for our audience to percept contemporary dance and for dancers to apply somatic non-violent approaches to their bodies. We connect these difficulties with the restrictions that were imposed on our dance culture and with the conviction that dance art is separated from global historical context and knowledge development. So we felt ourselves responsible to stress interconnections between socio-historical circumstances and development of art, music, dance and philosophy in our teaching practice. This was the reason why we have run the annual laboratory ‘Theory and Practice of 20th century dance since 2014, that became professional retraining course in 2016. In this course, we have brought together concepts of dance and body, tools of technique and composition of 20th century and have traced what historical events, scientific discoveries and sociocultural contexts influenced them.

We stress Isadora’s admiration with the ideas of Darwin and Nietzsche and their influence on her practice, Graham’s interpretation of Freud theory that led her to feminist libido liberation, Vigman’s expression and its correlation with the crisis that humanity experienced after WWI, post-WWII roots of Cunningham aleatoric approach and connections of postmodern dance with the protest movement and counterculture.

We use open data to approach practices that are foreign for us, share the way we interpret material and encourage students to find their own way to approach existing heritage. Since it is important for us to put knowledge in accessible form, we followed up the course with the set of postcards ‘20th Century Dance. Speculations and Prejudices’ with images that symbolise dance practices of well-known choreographers with their biographies on flip sides.

Our intense work and the current political environment in Russia, that has tendency to bring back decades of cultural isolation, stimulated us to dig into the history of Avangarde period and look for dance practices that embodied ideas of liberation and value of personal experience, instead of unified people masses. We discovered that the phenomenon of Soviet dance experiments is discussed in numerous culture studies and books, however, its practical value is underresearched. So in 2015 we started to explore culture studies and collective postmemory of that period (resulted in our work-in-progress performance in the Meyerhold theatre residency in 2017) and now we continue our research by working with the existing archives (supported by field research program of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art). In our project, we peculiarly care about the difference between restoration of the heritage and its re-thinking/recycling, so we reflect on the methods that could be relevant for practical recycling of the dance heritage in general. We aim to develop our approach by connecting and exchanging experience with artists that work on this topic, such as Nunzia Tirelli who promoted and organized the historical LABAN EVENT in Monte Verità, and was awarded the prize for “Cultural Dance Heritage in Switzerland” and Juliette Villemin who ran the project Monte Verita – Raumdeutungen.


Memory Fractals (in progress)

Как соприкоснуться с историей собственной семьи? 

Рассказы родственников наполнены призраками, людьми, которые исчезли… “жизнь была такая”/арестовали/через 20 лет реабилитировали вместе со справкой о смерти…

И не повод это узнать, где похоронен, в каком лагере был… понятно, что несправедливо раскулачили… но родину все равно защищать нужно…

…а бабушка была в прабабушку – ярая коммунистка, боролась с пережитками прошлого – остатками невежественной религиозности…

Помимо бесспорного влияния эбриогенеза и ранних стадий развития на формирование телесных паттернов, наше тело становится контейнером/архивом совершенных рутин и практик когда-либо испытанных… нами, нашими родителями, их родителями….

Тема культурного забвения, слепых зон в коллективной памяти, тенденции “забыть и жить дальше” связалась у меня с буквальной телесной незаземленностью, неуверенностью жеста, прокрастинацией действия. Метафора прерывающейся истории как “земли уходящей из под ног”, невозможности соединиться с культурной памятью людей которые жили там же где живу я, стала ракурсом текущей художественной практики. 

Обращаясь к телу, как архиву телесных практик и контейнеру культурной памяти, фрактально упорядоченному феномену, развивающемуся в/не зависимости он нашей воли, мы совершаем попытку выйти за пределы научной парадигмы восприятия мира и позволить своему иррациональному воображать прошлое и вспоминать будущее.

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