The dancing wolf(s). About the project “45+”
Vilnis Bīriņš, participant of the project
To tell about the project “45+” (Network, Lifelong Dance Practice: Project 45+), inspired by Olga Žitluhina, I must tell about myself. This is also a lesson from this project. Whenever I speak about something in generalisations, Ramona Galkina smiles and asks with mild irony: “How can you know that?” I sigh and once again admit that she is right.
There was once a time when I was obsessed with stories. They were generated by my fantasy in large amounts. They seemed so important to me that I could not keep them to myself. I had to share with someone. There was something in them, inexpressible by words and the only way I could tell would be – by movement. Others may call it dance.
There were many people around me. However, as time went by, I recognized that I had become the lone wolf. I danced hidden in the deep forests. In order to return to the city – to perform on the stage, I had to gather all my willpower. This was the way many of my shows were made, for many of which the second title might as well be “This is the last one”.
45+ Meeting in Pärnu, Estonia 2018
After the workshop by Külli Roosna (Estonia) and Kenneth Flak (Norway) in Pärnu. Photo from participant’s archive.
Then Olga offered me to get involved in the project „45+”. I agreed to the offer with great joy. I felt tempted to create a performance alongside experienced dancers and choreographers from the Baltic and Nordic countries, whose biographies are the most spectacular.
At the time of the first meeting, I rubbed my hands and began to pour out questions in a way I had accustomed to: „What kind of show are we going to create? Who is going to be the choreographer? Director?! What about music?! When is the premiere planned?! ” What I got in return was a cooling reply: „We are not going to make a show. This is Networking!” I guess that the disappointment on my face was so obvious, that Ramona came to cheer me up: „Enjoy the process!”. The wolf inside had lost his vigilance and skipped one of the compounds of the name Networking – „net”! It goes this way when you let yourself go with emotions. But it was too late. The net had already been thrown. And I awaited every coming workshop with increasing impatience. And there was a reason for that.
I am delighted to enjoy every second at the workshop of Francesco Scavetta (Norway/Italy). It is fantastic to give in and let go with the movement of liberated body.
Unexpectedly the Estonian „delicate mechanic” Karl Saks offers a theme that had already then occupied my mind for several years, and of which I, myself had lead workshops. We were investigating internal and external impulses.
In the storytelling workshop by Oleg Soulimenko there are many new techniques. I let a partner to lead me in an unknown direction and to ask questions while being blindfolded. The voice I hear change the direction and proximity all the time, the volume changes from scream to whisper. Or in another case – we lay on the floor with our eyes closed and start by creating a blur of sounds that gradually turns into one united storyline.
In Pärnu the workshop by director and choreographer Sasha Pepeljajev (Estonia/ Russia) is dedicated to the theme that I have had discussed a lot – the semiotics of dance. It is an intellectual pleasure to create the signs of movement and choreography constructions, that others are asked to decipher.
A workshop in Pärnu carried out by the participants of the project “45+”. Photo from participant’s archive.
Workshop prep by Fiona Millward (Great Britain).
Benno Voorham is able to offer countless structures of improvisation. Under the lead Sally E. Dean (USA/UK) we experiment with various objects that alter the movement of the body (we tie our bodies with rubber; we lengthen our fingers with bird feathers…). I flashback to a memory of a work started, but unfinished. In the theatre residence of Ansis Rūtentals director Māra Ķimele had a beautiful idea about a rock in the body of a human.
In Hammerfest we joik together with Sámi singer and joik practitioner Maritu Overli Hetu. She is such an interesting personality that even the shortest meeting with her creates an imprint on you.
In Estonia, we spent a whole day in the residence of a choreographer, yoga instructor and a chef of natural whole foods - Marika Blossfeldt. After yoga sessions, each participant of the group has to prepare and to serve a meal made by themselves, it is a great challenge to my cooking skills. My competence of cooking eggs in three different ways has been now supplemented by a new peak of my cooking – corn cob stew.
The days of the workshops are heavy loaded from dusk till dawn. For example, a day in Hammerfest: there is an hour and a half long class, provided by programme of Dance Festival Barents, then there are two and a half hour lesson for the workshop, then – lunch, after that three hour long creative workshop, an hour of free time and after which - evening performance for the festival.
A collective full of trust and free atmosphere was formed unnoticeably, in it – nobody had to prove anything, which creates the opportunity for the free creative process. And, yes, my wolf had started to enjoy being in a pack. To enjoy the humour of Rene; the seriousness of Tina; the spontaneity of Olga; the tolerance of Ramona; the talented comic style of Toby; the talent of Solveig – to push people to commit till the work is done; the witty dialogues of Fiona and Oleg; the mystery of Goda and finally – every group’s participant’s ability to surrender to the dance with their whole being.
Over the hill. Photo from the archive of the participants.
”You Might Think We Are Sisters” by Oleg Soulimenko and Witnesses of the Future” by Solveig Leinan-Hermo, and dance company Stellaris Dance Theatre
After two years since the beginning of the project, something surprising happens –contrary to the specified project’s goals, there are performance shows beginning to emerge.
In Latvia and Austria performance, “You Might Think We Are Sisters” is created by Oleg Soulimenko, Olga and Ramona. The roots of this show can be found in Norway, Hammerfest. When Oleg Soulimenko came to the festival DanseFestival Barents and found out about the project „45+”, he lit up and was eager to create a performance with Olga and Ramona!
In the first workshop of the project, we discuss our thoughts about our strong and weak points and almost everyone agrees that our strong point is in the ability to speak openly. This performance is proof that these were not just words.
In Norway, „Witnesses of the Future” is created by Solveig Leinan-Hermo, and dance company Stellaris Dance Theatre. It tells a story about people, who are forced to leave their homes because of the war. The inhabitants Hammerfest as well as refugees that had just recently came there, participated in the performance. In one of the project’s “45+” workshops, Benno Vorham speaks of his experience when working with refugees, and this is the reason Solveig invites him to become the director and choreographer of the emerging show.
Together with Ramona and Olga we participate in a project organised by choreographer Ilze Zīriņa –„Klātbūtnes dueti” (“The Presence of Duets”) – it creates a movement towards annual contemporary dance festival „Laiks dejot” (Time to Dance). In it, there are duets (or trio) that meet up in city environment in order to concentrate together only towards movement and dance.
For the participants of these duets, it is offered to join in the light installation of Peter Terezakis (USA) and Allyson Green (USA) – a dance improvisation show „Heart Beats Lights”. There is a trip to Norway organised by Ilze Zīriņa and Inta Balode, there Latvian dancers are joined with dance company of Solveiga. This performance opens the dance festival of Hammerfest (DanseFestival Barents). The architecture of Hammerfest’s Artic Culture Centre able us to form a show in two stories of the building and it can be seen by spectators outside through the glass walls.
“The Presence of Duets” trio in the festival „Time to dance” (Laiks dejot). Photo: Guna Bīriņa | Light installation – dance performance „Heart Beats Light” by Peter Terezakis (USA) and Allyson Green (USA)
Installation in dance RE VERA. Photo: Jūlija Žitluhina | Estonian dance company „Fine5 Dance Theatre” performance „I was here”. Photo: Rene Nomik
There forms an ironic as well as serious story „Rumpeldance” in one of the project’s workshops, it’s about the everyday life of dancers and choreographers and it is performed in the hall of Hammerfest’s dance festival. The participants of the performance –
Tiina Ollesk, Renee Nõmmik, Guna Bīriņa, Olga, Vilnis, Aira Naginevičute-Adomaitiene, Goda Laurinavičiūtė un Solveiga are joined by vigorous British actor Gvin Von.
Tina and Rene invite Olga to Tallinn and there forms a show „I was here” in the dance company „Fine5 Dance Theatre”.
In Riga, installation in dance „RE VERA” is created. The author of the idea and the choreographer is Olga. Dancers are Ramona and Vilnis.
And so, each new project inspires the next one. And the performance shows continue to be created. And now also the project itself has grown into a next one- BET – Body Experience Time.
Now there is a place for my wolf to return. And there is no need for that second title for my performances.