Important Lessons from Russian Festival Part II | Arts

Important Lessons from Russian Festival Part II

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I left last night’s performances of Vladimir Golubev’s Not Unsteady Support and Iguan Dance Theatre’s Displaced Persons with considerably more knowledge than I had going in. You didn’t? Well, please, allow me.

Things I learned from Iguan Dance Theatre and Vladimir Golubev:

  • The tongue is an often overlooked, yet equally important, tool of movement in dance and can be used for several things, such as pointing, blabbering, and intensifying a scrunched-up facial expression.

  • If one person in the audience starts clapping to the beat of the music, it doesn’t mean everyone will join in. Counterintuitive and almost unbelievable, but true, as of last night.

  • “Don’t improvise on stage. You can improvise only in your bathroom.” Wise words from dancer Nina Gasteva. Other important wisdom she imparted: “Don’t run in circles on the stage,” and “If you aren’t invited, don’t go.” Brilliant. Everything is now clear.
  • If you put a condom on your head and pull it down over your nose, you can use the air flow from the exhale of your nostrils to inflate the tip of the condom, which is positioned on the top of your head. The desired effect is that it prevents “brain leakage.” A possible side effect, however, which may or may not be desirable, is that it may turn your head into a giant phallic symbol.

One of the reasons it may be difficult to interpret Golubev’s dancing is that there wasn’t much of it, and deliberately so. Golubev played off the idea of entering on stage with the intention of not putting on any show, which he did fairly well. The performance consisted mostly of Golubev pacing on stage, punctuated by short dance sequences that he didn’t let himself commit to. In fact, at times the drying rack prop on stage moved more than the dancer, who busied himself serenading the audience in a somewhat melodramatic acoustic guitar and vocal performance, complete with falling autumn leaves.

The Iguan Dance Theatre presented a satire of globalism in a domestic setting, using IKEA as an inspiration. The stage was set up to look like a modern living room, furnished with sleek and trendy chairs and lamps (which, comically, dancer Michail Ivanov sexually violates). The dancers seemed possessed by a computer, moving in slow motion, pausing, or repeating movements like a scratched DVD. The movements are clean and swift, more like poses than motions—the exception being Anastasia Kadrulyova’s almost murderous outbursts with the IKEA rug, which nonetheless, seem to have a sense of control behind them due to her repeated movements. The repetition throughout the piece is likely because “life in IKEA is like a circle,” explains Gasteva.

Defining both performances is the sense of humor that each brought to the stage. Gasteva says that the dances work with the idea of imitation—the imitation of Russian daily life, for example—and so the joke comes naturally.

While I’m still a little baffled by what I saw last night, I can leave you with one final lesson learned:

European mullets are totally in.

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