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 Post subject: Modern Dance in Estonia - 2003
PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2003 10:24 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
<img src="http://www.saal.ee/pix/pildid/camouflage.jpg" alt="" />
<small>Merle Saarva, Krõõt Juurak - "Camouflage" in the Kanuti Gildi Saal</small>

Interview with Priit Raud - modern dance in Estonia and the role of 2.tants

It's little more than a decade since Estonia regained its independence from the Soviet Union. In August 2002 Stuart Sweeney travelled to the Baltic republic to interview Priit Raud of 2.tants about the exciting developments since then.

Cutting edge modern dance in a mediaeval city is an enticing mix and the August DanceFestival in Tallinn, with both local and international dance artists, certainly
lived up to my expectations. Priit Raud is the Director of the Festival and the main organiser, catalyst and publicist for the art form in Estonia. He told me that it was 12 years ago when the first modern dance company was set up. Now called Fine 5 Dance Theater, choreographers from the US and Scandinavia were the initial source of material. However the Company soon started to develop their own choreography and one of their full-length works is included in this year's Festival.

Raud continued, "Another landmark was setting up our organisation, originally called "The Centre of Dance Information". Nobody got paid and we all carried on with our other jobs. The idea was to spread information about what was going on with dance and organise one guest performance in the season. However, our role expanded beyond information and to reflect that we changed the name to "2.tants". Now we are active as a production and receiving office and provide touring management for most of the Estonian independent choreographers and dancers."

"A lot of people think that modern dance is new here, but that's not the case. The works from before the Second World War, even though they were performed in the name of ballet, were strongly influenced by the German free dance movement of Kurt Jooss and Mary Wigman. Perhaps that's why the main influence on Estonian dance today is Germany. Even in the Soviet time, modern dance managed to continue in a strange form. The Artistic Director of the Estonian Ballet from 1974-2001, Mai Murdmaa, was seen as the most radical ballet choreographer in the Soviet Union. The nightclubs had programmes put together by the dancers and choreographers from the ballet which would include at least two short pieces which were really modern dance."

Since Independence, organisations like the British Council and the Goethe Institute have played a vital and consistent role in bringing overseas artists to Estonia and staff from the two institute offices told me how impressed they are with what has been achieved locally. Another significant step occurred this year when the Tallinn authorities provided part of a building shared with another arts organisation. Raud told me, "The Kanuti Gildi Saal is the centre of our activity now and everyday life is run by the dance community. The dancers and choreographers are the ones who are cleaning it, but also using it for rehearsals, performances and so on. So it's like a small hippy community. In the Soviet era it was used as a phone bugging centre by the KGB and when we moved in it was very dirty and almost destroyed with no electricity or water and so on. You could say that it is an ugly space, but it's an ugly space with soul. There is a question mark over whether we can stay there, but I think it will be left for the Arts."

2.tants has received recognition in other ways from the authorities. "We were the main organiser for the Estonian culture programme for Expo Hannover 2000. It was a very big step for the Minister to mount a contemporary arts programme, but it fitted in well with our pavilion which was one of the craziest at the whole Expo."

Nevertheless Raud is adamant that modern dance does not receive the support locally that it deserves. "Finance is not so easy. Apart from us, no independent company or choreographer receives support from the Ministry. Clearly we are totally unhappy with that. We have changed everything here from the Soviet period, except the system for culture. The State theatres have their artist salaries financed 100%, and we get money for only three salaries plus some small items. So, I don't take my salary, but use it for whatever we need. I can do it because I have some other income, but it's not a normal way of working. After music, the dance artists are the second most important presenters of Estonian culture abroad. The Ministry acknowledges the strong development and that a policy should be put in place for dance, but that's it. We need people to make hard political decisions about the priorities in the arts."

For another perspective I spoke briefly to Thomas Lehmen, a German choreographer who has returned to Tallinn with two pieces in this year's Festival. He told me, "The people here are hungry for new experiences and the work that is being produced is some of the most interesting that I see around Europe. The Estonians are shy and sometimes reticent with foreigners, but when they do open up to you it has a big impact. There is so much energy here and Priit Raud kick-started it."

**********************************

This interview first appeared in Dance Europe magazine.

<small>[ 23 August 2003, 02:54 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Dance in Estonia - 2003
PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2003 10:49 am 
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Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
An exciting start to 2003 with a production by Sasha Pepelyaev and Peeter Jalakas. Pepelyaev has been to London's prestigious Dance Umbrella with his Kinetic Theatre company. I hope to see this production at the end of February.

*******************************

A new modern dance theatre version of "Swan Lake":

Press Release:

S W A N L A K E

A production of Von Krahl Theatre, Tallinn

Concept & Direction & Video by Peeter Jalakas
Concept & Choreography by Sasha Pepelyaev (Moscow)
Parts of choreography created by Tatiana Gordeeva and Darja Buzovkina

Actors– Liina Vahtrik, Tiina Tauraite, Erki Laur, Juhan Ulfsak, Taavi Eelmaa (all from Von Krahl Theatre)
Dancers - Triin Lilleorg, Kärt Tõnisson, Anna-Liisa Lepasepp (all from Tallinn), Tatiana Gordeeva, Daria Buzovkina, Olga Tsvetkova (all from Kinetic Theatre, Moscow)
Music – P.I.Tchaikovsky and adaptations by Sergei Zagni (Moscow)
Costumes – Reet Ulfsak

Co-produced by TSEH festival (Moscow) and Kanuti Gildi SAAL (Tallinn) with the support from Tallinn City Council, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Ford Foundation Russia.
Premiere – January 30, 2003 at the Kanuti Gildi Saal, Tallinn

When Von Krahl Theatre’s previous big project – “The Grail” – was searching the ultimate truth as ethical absolute and observed the searchers, then in “Swan Lake” the main theme is the aesthetical absolute – the ultimate beauty.

Whether and how is the aesthetics connected to the ethics? Why has the “Swan Lake” become a generalization of the ballet? Why was the “Swan Lake” shown in all the Russian TV stations during the Moscow Putsch?

Swan Lake with its fatal plot does not leave almost any possibility for so called happy endings. Why so? Why the female characters are not making any independent decisions? Is it so by chance or meaningfully? Or both? What attracts the nowadays audience in “Swan Lake” - is it the artistic value or it’s social background?

Swan Lake as the predecessor of existentialism.
The polarities: woman - man, dance - everyday motion, music - noise, shadow - light, black and white - coloured, earth - sky, fire - water, oration - humming, inner - outer, flying - swimming, etc.

These are the questions and themes this performance is dealing with.

Like in the most of the performances directed by Peeter Jalakas, also in “Swan Lake” there are used video and computer technology. This time the moving pictures appear to the requisites used on the stage – sheets, pillows, etc., to the effects – smoke and water and on the bodies of the actors. The design of the set and also the videos are very minimalist - either black and white or using the colour range that reminds the coloured films of 1960s. There are used a lot of documentary materials from the archives of Tallinn, Moscow and Yekaterinburg (Russia).

Performance Dates:

1. premier - January 30, 2003
2. premier - January 31, 2003
and the next 16 performances -
February 2, 3, 4, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28
starting at 19:30 at the Kanuti Gildi Saal (Pikk str. 20, Tallinn)

<small>[ 02 April 2003, 08:16 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Dance in Estonia - 2003
PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2003 1:20 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
<img src="http://forum.criticaldance.com/TallinAugustFest02/images/mart1.jpg" alt="" />

Here's our topic of Tallinn Festival 2002., including an interview with Mart Kangro one of the leading modern dancers in Estonia.

<small>[ 10 February 2003, 07:31 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Dance in Estonia - 2003
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2003 4:45 am 
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Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
<img src="http://www.ttu.ee/ajaleht/tp1998/19jaanuar1998/pikk.gif" alt="" />
<small>Kanuti Gildi Saal - The Tallinn City Council have renovated the exterior since this photo was taken.</small>

The week-end of 28th Feb to 2nd March sees the 5th annual celebration of Estonian Modern Dance in Tallinn's Kanuti Gildi Saal and Von Krahl Theatre. With a mix of performances, films, lectures during the day and evening, it will be an opportunity to take the temperature of this Art form in this dynamic Baltic state.

PROGRAM

FRIDAY, february 28

5 PM - Von Krahl Theatre (Rataskaevu 10)
Sandra Zaneva /Tallinn/ ·Legs`n hands·& duet with a chicken·
Krõõt Juurak /Tallinn-Amsterdam/ ·Label·(work-in-progress)
Renate Keerd /Pärnu/ ·Mystical Sounds in Snoring Night II·

7:30 PM - Kanuti Gildi SAAL (Pikk 20)
Von Krahl Theatre ·Swan Lake· (Peeter Jalakas & Sasha Pepelyaev)

9 PM – Kanuti Gildi SAAL (Pikk 20)
welcome drink party

SATURDAY, march 1

1 PM - Kanuti Gildi SAAL studio (Pikk 20)
Estonian dance films program

5 PM – Kanuti Gildi SAAL (Pikk 20)
united dancers of ZUGA /Tallinn/ ·walking home solo·

7 PM - Von Krahl Theatre (Rataskaevu 10)
S.P.A. /Tallinn/ ·Sabbatum· (work-in-progress; Katrin Essenson & Taavet Jansen)
Kristina Pashkevicius & Reet Ulfsak /Tallinn/ ·Female Parade· (premiere)
Dmitri Harchenko /Tallinn/ ·Gamblers·
Mari Mägi /Copenhagen-Tallinn/ ·Clara·

SUNDAY, march 2

1 PM - Kanuti Gildi SAAL studio (Pikk 20)
Franz Anton Cramer /GER / seminar-lecture: aspects of dance criticism – taste, economy, power

4 PM - Von Krahl Theatre (Rataskaevu 10)
Heili Lindepuu /Viljandi/ ·flexibility of focus· (excerpts)
Taavet Jansen & Oksana Titova /Tallinn/ ·tune in one·
Einar Lints /Viljandi/ ·up the down staircase·
Katrin Essenson /Tallinn/ ·…jusqu’ici, ca va bien…so far so good· (work-in-progress)

7:30 PM – Kanuti Gildi SAAL (Pikk 20)
Ruslan Stepanov /Tartu/ ·Room Mono Drama·
Anu Mölder /Tallinn/ ·New·
Dance Theatre FINE 5 /Tallinn/ ·Sacred Spring· (work-in-progress; Rene Nõmmik & Tiina Ollesk)
Janek Savolainen & Aivar Kallaste /Tartu/ ·Kallastee·
Triin Lilleorg- Kärt Tõnisson – Mairika Plakso/Tallinn/ ·new creation·

11 PM – Von Krahl Theatre (Rataskaevu 10)
farewell party

uus tants 5 - estonian dance showcase is organized by 2.tants promotion/ kanuti gildi SAAL; estonian independent dance artists association and von krahl theatre.
supported by National Endowment, Tallinn City Council & Goethe Institut.
producer: Priit Raud
contact: 2.tants promotion• Rataskaevu 10 • 10123 Tallinn • Estonia
tel. (+372) 626 90 94 • fax (+372) 626 90 99 • e-mail:info@tants.ee • www.saal.ee
tickets: at Von Krahl Theatre box office 626 90 99 & Piletipunkt box offices / www.piletipunkt.ee

<small>[ 10 February 2003, 07:23 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Dance in Estonia - 2003
PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2003 3:57 am 
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Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
We are part way through "uus tants 5", the weekend festival of new Estonian dance. The highlights for me so far have been Sandra Zaneva's distinctive and funny "Legs'n hands" and the beautiful and strange "Clara", a solo by Mari Mägi. A discussion about the future funding of modern dance in Estonia brought some interesting international comparisons and the setting up of a committee, chaired by the Ministry of Culture, to take forward this key issue.

Today brings a seminar on dance criticism and nine further performances in two sessions. Then there is the closing party.....

Any comments from other attendees?

<small>[ 02 March 2003, 04:58 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Dance in Estonia - 2003
PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2003 7:11 am 
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Location: Tallinn, Estonia
<img src="http://www.saal.ee/pix/pildid/luikede_j%E4rv.jpg" alt="" />

Pepeljajev and Jalaka's “Swan Lake” investigates the mechanism of power

Review by Tiit Tuumalu (translated from Estonian by Tiina Laats)

The fact that those who attempted the coup d'état in August 1991, when the tanks rolled in the streets of Moscow, decided to broadcast “The Swan Lake” was not by chance. Already Stalin had turned classical ballet, especially “The Swan Lake”, into an instrument of totalitarian power and his example was later followed by Castro, Mao Zedong, etc. After all, ballet ideally suited the demands of the system – it was mechanical, automatic, and involved minimal thinking - it resembled a military unit submitted to strict drill rather than an independent field of art.

Mechanical is beautiful
“The Swan Lake” suited this paradigm especially well – the swans represented the ideal of absolute beauty, best expressed in the straight lines and the strict geometry of the 2nd and 4th acts in Lev Ivanov's choreography. What did not fit the paradigm – for instance the tragic ending – was altered. Yuri Grigorovich’s innovative version naturally suffered heavy censure and acquired a perverse ending in a duel where Siegfried floors Rothbart, and love celebrates earthly victory.

Sasha Pepeljajev and Peeter Jalakas have been inspired by the ideological approach to “The Swan Lake”. Although their version should rather be called a variation on the theme of “The Swan Lake”. Smooth narrative and clear-cut characters are here replaced by fragmentary substance where nothing is certain and easily determined. Even the characters can turn into Marx, Engels or Lenin, or become Rothbart or Siegfried.

The abundance of quotations, presenting things in another context, witty parallels created by means of video – the straight line of corps de ballet, for example, is compared with the brand new tractors emerging from the factory – this is the method of the production that proceeds almost wordlessly. Numerous works of postmodernist Russian writers have been built up like that – it could perhaps be said that Pepeljajev is Russian dance theatre's Vladimir Sorokin (Ed. a controversial Russian novelist).

The image of a lake of tears runs through the entire production as a strong subtext. After all, Tiina Tauraite's Ottilie weeps practically incessantly -, the inhabitants, first of all Odette, have been deceived, they were promised a better life but in the end taken for a ride. In that sense the happenings on the stage bear a suspiciously strong resemblance to the story of the Soviet system – abounding with promises not kept, dreams of earthly paradise, never to be realised, replaced by hell instead. Or in other words – the best aims led to the usual outcome!
The chalice of suffering, however, is never bottomless. Pepeljajev and Jalakas's idea of the harmony and absolute humility of the “bewitched” swans starts showing cracks – the nameless mass splits into individuals, each of whom, as it transpires, has their own story to tell.

In the end the dance of the swans no longer succumbs to Tchaikovsky's music either. Sergei Zagni's hypnotic trance produces shifted movement where servility is replaced by aggression, reconciliation with threat. The experiment is over, the “revolutionaries” disrobe and fly off.

This is hence a very sad story, although the tone is set by outward cheerfulness, almost a carnival spirit – the mixture is typical of Pepeljajev's earlier works. One absurd and witty image – wholly revealed to those who have been children of the revolution themselves – follows another, and so forth until the very end. No wonder that at some point there are no swans, but moving barrels, and their lids sound like the bells of Kremlin. Better than Stomp.

Ulfsak and 32 fouettés
The entire company performs impressively - Liina Vahtrik and Tiina Tauraite, Erki Laur and Taavi Eelmaa demonstrate excellent plasticity. To say nothing about Juhan Ulfsak, his neck-breaking trick – to roll himself like a cannonball, head first, from the rolling barrels straight into an empty one – this will certainly be recorded in the annals of Estonian theatre. Why can't this become an attraction, just like the 32 fouettés in the classical “Swan Lake” - after all, this last quite perverse act pumps a lot of adrenaline into the bloodstream, it's so exciting to see whether the dancer will come down on all fours or not.

The dancers were a pleasant surprise - the Estonian ones Triin Lilleorg, Kärt Tõnisson and Anna-Liisa Lepasepp, additionally Tatjana Gordejeva, Darja Buzovkina and Olga Tsvetkova from Moscow. Pepeljajev's methods seem to have had an invigorating impact on them, just as it did in earlier productions for Taavet Jansen and Katrin Essenson.

It could be said that the traditional “Swan Lake” tries to impress on audiences the concept of “this is a story of love's all-conquering power” or “this work touches the deepest strings of the soul”. No soul strings are in sight in the version by Pepeljajev and Jalakas. Their “Swan Lake” is a sharp exploration of society and the mechanisms of power.

It poses more questions than it answers. I like that, because the enjoyment derived from answering far exceeds here whatever “spiritual experience” a traditional “Swan Lake” might offer.

*****************************

This review first appeared in Postimees, an Estonian national paper.

<small>[ 02 April 2003, 08:18 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Dance in Estonia - 2003
PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2003 12:55 pm 
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Posts: 3000
Location: San Francisco
From the review above:

Quote:
To say nothing about Juhan Ulfsak, his neck-breaking trick – to roll himself like a cannonball, head first, from the rolling barrels straight into an empty one – this will certainly be recorded in the annals of Estonian theatre. Why can't this become an attraction, just like the 32 fouettés in the classical “Swan Lake” - after all, this last quite perverse act pumps a lot of adrenaline into the bloodstream, it's so exciting to see whether the dancer will come down on all fours or not.
I'm all for it! Every time I see the 32 fouettes, I wish something else could be substituted.


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Dance in Estonia - 2003
PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2003 2:33 am 
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Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
<img src="http://www.danceonline.com/photo/jasperse/images/johnj2.jpg" alt="" />
<small>John Jasperse Company from the
dance photo gallery of anja hitzenberger - well worth a look.</small>

Welcome to the ...


A U G U S T D A N C E F E S T I V A L 2003

Kanuti Gildi SAAL/Tallinn, Estonia


15.-30.08.2003



The preliminary menu of the fourth edition of August DanceFestival:



15.08 / 7:30PM Kanuti Gildi SAAL -

ZOO / Thomas Hauert /Brussels/ “Verosimile”



16.08 / 7:30PM Kanuti Gildi SAAL -

Two Fish /Berlin/ “Chistiane Müller, Gabriel-Max-Strasse 2, 1st floor left”



18.08 / 7:30PM Kanuti Gildi SAAL -

Renate Keerd /Pärnu/ “new creation” / premiere!

Claire Croizé /Brussels/ "BLOWING-UP"



20.+21.08 / 7:30PM Kanuti Gildi SAAL -

Hooman Sharifi /Oslo/ “As if your death was your longest sneeze ever”



23.08 / 7:30PM Kanuti Gildi SAAL -

Paz Rojo /Amsterdam/ ”It’s my ass you’ve been thinking about”



24.08 / 7:30PM Kanuti Gildi SAAL -

Katrin Essenson /Tallinn/ “....jusqu’ ici, ca va bien....”



25.08 / 7:30PM Kanuti Gildi SAAL -

Antonio Montanile /Venise-Brussels/ “Quduò”

Alain Buffard /Paris/ “Good boy”



27.08 / 7:30PM Kanuti Gildi SAAL –

TALLINN UNDERGROUND.jazz.dance.fashion.circus



30.08 / 7:30PM Kanuti Gildi SAAL -

John Jasperse Company /New York/ “Out There” / European premiere!





Contact:

2.tants promotion · Rataskaevu 10 · 10123 Tallinn · Estonia ·

tel. +372 626 90 94 · fax +372 626 90 99 · info@tants.ee · www.saal.ee ·

<small>[ 20 May 2003, 07:25 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Dance in Estonia - 2003
PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2003 12:09 pm 
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Location: El Granada, CA, USA
Sounds exciting. It's been ten years since I was in Tallinn, but what a beautiful city. I really enjoyed it.


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Dance in Estonia - 2003
PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2003 3:06 pm 
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Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Wow! You were there very soon after Regaining Independence, LMCtech. You would find it fascinating to go back now, with much renovation, restaurants on every corner and some fab new buildings in the doughnut around the Old City.....plus McDonalds of course and Hessburger from Finland.

While the interview above with Priit Raud makes the point that some tradition of Modern Dance existed in Estonia pre 1991, there has been great development since then, brought about primarily by the work of 2.tants, Raud and his colleagues.

I plan to review the festival for Dance Europe magazine.

<small>[ 20 May 2003, 05:12 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Dance in Estonia - 2003
PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2003 2:06 am 
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Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
The August Dance Festival 2003 is under way and I will be putting pen to paper (or the Internet equivalent) as soon as possible. I am also hoping to get some local people to review and comment as well.

<small>[ 19 August 2003, 04:09 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Dance in Estonia - 2003
PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:30 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Introduction to Tallinn and the Augusti TantsuFestival 2003

I'm back in Tallinn for my second Augusti TantsuFestival and it's not a hardship. After a year of regular visits I know the capital of Estonia better than any other city, except London and on the first night I was delegated to show some hungry visiting dancers to a 24 hour cafe. I have to confess that I still see Tallinn through rose-tinted spectacles, but it combines so many positive characteristics - a capital city with high quality arts events including music and dance; a well-preserved mediaeval Old Town plus some interesting buildings from the period 1912-1940 and some fine post-Soviet developments, including the elegant asymmetrical glass prisms of the head office of a leading Estonian bank. Yet all this in a city of 400,000 (roughly 30% of the 1.4 million population of Estonia), which means that you can walk to most places and you regularly bump into people you know.

This Baltic state has wasted no time picking up the spirit of its former independence, which ended in 1940 and was regained 12 years ago. Today, [20th August] is in fact a public holiday - The Day of Restoration of Independence - and I saw a typically informal ceremony outside the National Parliament where the President wandered about with little sign of bodyguards in attendance, an indication that this is a stable country with the rule of law. The Russian minority still feel that there is discrimination, but some say things are getting better and that Estonia offers better chances than Russia for the majority.

Building is under way for an extension to one of the large hotels, major roads are being re-laid, churches and important historical houses are restored and there is a general buzz and optimism around. Parnu, the seaside resort, and Tartu, home of the largest university, also share this positive outlook. However, Narva on the Russian border struggles in a depressed, post-industrial condition.

The 50 years of the Soviet era can still be found, especially in the domestic architecture in the doughnut around the Old Town and the massive estates on the edge of Tallinn, which will never win prizes for aesthetics, but look better than some similar ones in London. For the cost of 2 nights in a Tallinn luxury hotel I have 20 nights in a perfectly acceptable, 1-bedroomed "Kruschev" flat from the 60s, now featuring a micro-chip entry system; the Estonians love new technology. But, the locals prefer the 50s "Stalin" flats, which have bigger kitchens, but I don't plan to cook any 5-course meals for 10.

The centre for modern dance and the Augusti TantsuFestival is the Kanuti Gildi Saal in the heart of The Old Town. With its castellated roof and large statues on the front projection, it gives pause for thought that in the Soviet period this was a phone tapping centre for the KGB. It's a striking symbol of the Restoration of Independence that it is now home to avant-garde dance from around the world, including Russia. Here, as in other areas, Estonia has jumped directly from the traditionalism of the late 20th C Soviet world to post-modernism.

Kanuti is not just a presenting house, but is now a favoured place to make work. The centre is credited as co-producer for three works to be seen here over the next three weeks, two by Estonians and one from Hooman Sharifi, originally from Iran and now based in Norway,.

The Kanuti and Festival Director, Priit Raud, is an arts entrepreneur, par excellence and has managed to get exposure for the event from all the TV stations and much of the other media. "Tallinn This Week" magazine comments that the Festival, "...is artist oriented, focusing on their work, thought and their argumentation with the audience and other artists," a message supported by the post-performance discussions each night. The article continues, "Here the opportunity is given to experiment and have some fun." Sounds good to me.

Scroll up for details of the Festival programme

<small>[ 23 August 2003, 02:19 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Dance in Estonia - 2003
PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:57 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Double Bill - Renate Keerd and Claire Croizé, 18th August 2003, Tallinn Augusti TantsuFestival

Renate Keerd is one of the best known Estonian dance artists and several festivals around Europe presented her first piece, "Mystical Sounds in the Snoring Night". She has also won a Philip Morris dance award for her work in 2002 and is one of only two local choreographers selected to perform in this year's Augusti TantsuFestival.

Her contribution "mobile home" is a two-hander for herself and Päär Pärenson, lasting 30 minutes and hot off the studio floor. Keerd's interest in theatre is reflected in the visual richness of the work, combining movement, slide projection, props and imaginative lighting by Eve Teras. The work opens with a solo from Pärenson at the back of the stage, between a corridor marked out by two rows of lights at floor level. He moves slowly and smoothly starting bent over with hands and feet on the floor and this theme of interchange between the four limbs runs through the piece. The languor and dim lighting gave me an impression of night and at one stage in a meditation position he rolls in circles using his back and his knees creating a memorable image.

The next section sees Pärenson interacting with slides of Estonian scenes front projected onto a screen at the back of the stage. He swims in a lake, peers into the windows of a house and so on. This suggests a journey or exploration and although it is good fun, one or two fewer slides may be better. There is also a good theatrical effect as Pärenson, head to the ground, blows a line of powder around the stage.

When he is joined by Keerd, they soon slip into boots, which have appeared onstage, but with Pärenson wearing his pair on his hands. This could have seemed a gimmick, but I found it visually intriguing as they explore shapes in an extended duet, with the boots acting as reference points. At one point Keerd throws herself on Pärenson with tenderness and need. The boots are abandoned for the final section and a poem relating to dance projected on the screen in sections, while the dancers perform. For the first time my attention wandered a little and perhaps this ending could be tightened and a copy of the text of the poem would have helped. Overall I came away with a feeling of distinctive movement and eye-catching theatricality.

I had seen Claire Croizé's "Blowing-Up" in London earlier this year and it left me cold. However, in the faded beauty of the Kanuti Gildi Saal with its peeling, Soviet-blue paint and the high Gothic windows providing a back-drop, the work impressed me much more. Croizé studied at PARTS and Jonathan Burrows' collaborator Jan Ritsema assisted in the creation of this, Croizé's first dance solo. Ritsema’s main experience is as an actor and director and he only came to dance in his 50s. His own "non-dance" approach can be seen in "Blowing-Up" and this aesthetic seems more at home in the cutting edge, post-modern dance world of the Kanuti Gildi Saal, rather than in the context of the generally more conventional fare we see in the UK.

No one could accuse Croizé of lack of effort and the vigour of the movement sometimes made me wince for her neck and shoulders. The programme notes told us that, "She does not strive to create beautiful movements, but rather to find beauty in the absence of artistic perfection, technical precision and self-control." The irony is that the work shows her immense control as she wheels around the stage swinging wide first both arms and then singly. Certainly the effect is awkward rather than beautiful, emphasised when she draws on two dreary coats, the second smaller than the first, to cover her powerful dancer's body.

In one section of the 30-minute work she shakes her head, making her hair behave like an oscillating mop and in another she jack-knifes forward swinging her arms across her body. In the final stages, some of the earlier choreography is revisited with the addition of a snappy jump step with one leg bent. Here Croizé also slows some of the movement and beautiful lines appear, as a contrast to the dynamic, but utilitarian motion we have seen before.

I was pleased to have the chance to revisit "Blowing-Up" and the experience reminded me that often it is the mood of the viewer or the ambiance of the surroundings that dictate our opinion of a work, rather than its intrinsic properties.

<small>[ 23 August 2003, 02:13 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Dance in Estonia - 2003
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2003 2:09 am 
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Posts: 2
Location: Tallinn, Estonia
Zoo/Thomas Hauert, “Verosimile”, Augusti TantsuFestival, Tallinn, 15th August 2003

The August Dance Festival is something special in Tallinn, weightier than the summertime glitter that fills most performance spaces here. This was confirmed by the Belgian troupe Z00 who opened the Festival last Friday.

The background of the 5-member group, led by Thomas Hauert from Switzerland, is impressive – most have danced for years in groups such as Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker’s Rosas troupe and some teach at the school P.A.R.T.S. associated with Rosas. However, the work they presented in the Kanuti Gildi Saal was quite different from Keersmaeker, although her stress on the theme of a dancer as a personality, and his/her diversity, was strongly felt throughout.

“Verosimile” was an ideal or a near-ideal piece of dance, as I would imagine it. It allowed a range of interpretation, not promoting any single perspective. It was something everybody could identify with, people with different preparation and expectations, from ordinary audience to dance professionals. Firstly, it could be viewed as simply a trendy cabaret programme where songs alternate with dance; there is fun, self-promotion and mise en scenes carried by genuine joy of playing.

Another level of interpretation derives from the title, which in Italian means ‘similarly to the real’ or ‘almost like real’. In other words – Hauert and ZOO unlock the illusion of reality that theatre is trying to produce in the viewer. Indeed, isn’t it odd that the experience and sometimes the emotions that we get from a performance are largely relying on deception? Just like “Verosimile” itself – even Hauert admitted that Italian was chosen for the most simple reason: none of them really knows this language.

The third level, the most intriguing, was connected with the dance itself that I would call nihilistic. “Verosimile” elegantly parodied existing dance concepts, without trying to find something new instead – as if proclaiming that the language of dance has exhausted itself. What remains are the copies of the copies of the copies.

It contained numerous gibes at over-emotional classical dance, hints at different styles and techniques – all that was done ‘verosimile’ or ‘almost like real’, but at the same time pushing it perhaps too much over the top.

ZOO set the standard high, but there is still much of interest to come in the Festival.

**************************

This article by Tiit Tuumalu first appeared in the Estonian newspaper Postimees and was translated by Tiina Laats of The Estonian Institute.

<small>[ 09 September 2003, 04:03 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Dance in Estonia - 2003
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2003 11:24 pm 
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Posts: 6778
Location: Estonia
Claire Croizé: her first dance-solo called “Blowing-Up”
Music: Fennesz, Sonic Youth, Vivaldi.
18th of August 2003 at an annual August DanceFestival in Tallinn, Estonia.

I took these following thoughts from her program, and put them together as they gained importance in my mind after having seen the performance:

“The emotion must come from the contrast between the fragility and the strenght of human body. To breath and find freedom. To stay standing in spite of the force of gravity.”

Most of the time I saw the strenght or the heaviness. Her movements were minimalistic, repetitional and physically exhausting. And futhermore sometimes she put on several jackets ot top of each other. I could feel the hotness and tightness inside of those: kind of sensation of oppression.
Everyday struggel in real life.
She just kept doing the same turns, bends, and arches over and over again. Until you got dizzy or bored or sank deeper in it.

Then the fragility came: she was simply standing and looking at the audience, question in her eyes,
“I don’t understand it, do you?”
And the head kept pulling her towards the floor.

The Vivaldi was bearly heard: almost nostalgic, helpless even. The silence; the continuous sequence of movements. And the electronic “noise” of Sonic Youth or Fennesz. Minimalism of choreography lets the emotions change according to the sound. She gave synonyms for the audience to understand better the simple truth she was telling them.

Closer to the end the music/sound gets louder, but instead of pressing her more towards the ground, her body overcomes the heaviness. She lifts up her chin and even smiles to the audience. The sudden change made me feel like succeeding in sometihing important, achieving something I’ve always wanted. For me it wasn’t so relevane anymore how or where she was ending her dance. I was floating in the air, testing my own wings: for a short while she had freed me from the gravity.
It still makes me smile.


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