Russian Dolls | Arts
Arts
INDY Week's arts blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Friday, June 15, 2007

Russian Dolls

Posted by on Fri, Jun 15, 2007 at 9:49 AM

click to enlarge unknown.jpg

Olga Pona’s robotic marionettes—er, dancers—took the stage last night in Reynolds Theater for the U.S. premiere of The Other Side of the River. And if there was any question about what Russian modern dance looks like, this performance cleared it up.

“Russian life is very rough,” she explained during the post-performance discussion. “It’s not polite.”

The strong, linear movements of the Chelyabinsk dancers are proof that this truth manifests itself in all aspects of Russian life, including art. The dancers exhibited complete discipline in their movements, executing each sequence with mechanical fluidity as individual units that collided and combined before separating again.

In fact, this theme of roughness repeats itself throughout—from grungy cigarette smoke to a sexual experience with a prostitute.

The story is based on two poor village men working in the laundry room of an expensive hotel ironing the clothes of Western travelers, which is one of the few signs they see of “the other side of the river,” or of a different life. They try on the Western-style clothing as an attempt to further understand that outside world.

“So, [in the beginning of the piece],” Pona jokes, “they are naked because of nothing to wear!”

Pona’s own story is an example of the difficulty of living in a communist province in Russia. She never even came into contact with dance until after high school. Today, her dance company still doesn’t have their own stage in Chelyabinsk. And she was never able to study contemporary dance.

“I want to see more art,” she says eagerly, regretting that traveling with the dance company doesn’t leave much time to see other performances.

Yet, it’s obvious that her seclusion from other dance influences is what makes her choreography so striking. She creates pieces completely on her own preferences, from selecting sequences for particular dancers to choosing the music.

She will show two other pieces during the ADF: Nostalgia, which was first sketched at the ADF in 2004, and Waiting.

“‘Waiting,’” she explains sardonically, “because the Russian people are always waiting for something better: better life, better president, better weather…”

Pona uses strict, controlled motions in her choreography, but she does not feel such rigidity in terms of artistic freedom in Russia.

“I do what I want.”

Well, it looks good to us, but that does explain a lot…

Tags:

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Arts



Twitter Activity

Comments

The Carolina, the Varsity, now the Chelsea. These movie houses were among the reasons we moved here 25 years ago. …

by JO in CHNC on The Chelsea Theater, the Last Old-School Art Cinema Standing in Chapel Hill, Might Close at the End of the Year (Arts)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

The Carolina, the Varsity, now the Chelsea. These movie houses were among the reasons we moved here 25 years ago. …

by JO in CHNC on The Chelsea Theater, the Last Old-School Art Cinema Standing in Chapel Hill, Might Close at the End of the Year (Arts)

The Chelsea Theatre has to be saved! Chapel Hill and the Triangle would be greatly diminished without it. Other theatres, …

by Jonathan H on The Chelsea Theater, the Last Old-School Art Cinema Standing in Chapel Hill, Might Close at the End of the Year (Arts)

...as did I, Ms. Margolis -- in a very small handful of moments over a two and a half hour …

by Byron Woods, INDY Theater and Dance Critic on Theater Review: The South Is Hard to Hear in the Opera Version of Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain (Arts)

I certainly heard the accents.

by Elizabeth A Margolis on Theater Review: The South Is Hard to Hear in the Opera Version of Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain (Arts)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation