Russian Dolls | 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…


Pin It


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


Great movie! I finally watched it online in HD. I figured some of you guys would want to watch it …

by Vhia setiawan on Movie Review: Believe the Hype About Black Panther, an All-Time Great Superhero Saga (Arts)

Most Recent Comments

Great movie! I finally watched it online in HD. I figured some of you guys would want to watch it …

by Vhia setiawan on Movie Review: Believe the Hype About Black Panther, an All-Time Great Superhero Saga (Arts)

Les miserable is listed starting earlier and still running. Not hating just saying. …

by GordonBombayIII on Love never dies, but many terrible musicals have: Sitting through Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom sequel. (Arts)

want to go to all! where and when?????

by Amanda Kyser on Sick of Facebook Invites? UNC-Chapel Hill Just Launched an App for Tracking Events on Campus. (Arts)

Not to be picky, but Harding was the first *American* female skater to land a triple axel in competition.

by xtinaxtina on Movie Review: I, Tonya Cribs Scorsese's Tricks for a Uniquely American Tale of Crass Competition and Class Conflict (Arts)

© 2018 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