CONTEMPORARY PERFORMING ARTS IN UKRAINE. IN SEARCH OF A LOST IDENTITY

Vlad Troitskyi, a director and producer, managed to create a whole system for producing an alternative culture of performing arts in Ukraine. In 1994 the Center for Contemporary Arts Dakh appeared in Kyiv (it is still functioning today). It became not just one of the most legendary studio theatres, but also an educational platform, a school for the education of actor-performers, a mission platform that first imported modern foreign authors to Ukraine (Vasilyi Sigarev, Martin McDonagh, Mark Ravenhill), musical motifs and theatrical trends from all over Europe. Later, it also became a launch pad for such musical groups as the ethno-chaos band DakhaBrakha and the freak-cabaret Dakh Daughters.

Dakh worked here to rethink the past of Ukraine, to update the national motives, myths and stereotypes with the tools of postmodern culture. In the project Mystical Ukraine (2004), the provincial “terra incognita” turned out to be a ritual space, where Shakespeare existed along with carols, folk rhymes, and Gogol. Other interesting moments were the production of Vii by Vlad Troitskyi, shown together with Ukrainian actors at the theatre Vidy Lousanne (2013), and later, a number of productions from young directors such as Buna (A woman in one of the Western Ukrainian dialects) by David Petrosian (2015) based on the text of Vera Makoviy.

In 2007 the first multi-disciplinary festival of contemporary art, GOGOLFEST, started thanks to the “dakhovtsam” in Ukraine. The festival made the Ukrainian audience accustomed to the fact that the line between theatre and installation, cinema and visual art can be very thin, and that theatre is not only a spectacle unfolding on the stage but also an action that can take place in an art cluster environment on streets of the city, born in an intimate, barely noticeable space between the theatre-goer and the performer.

It is important to mention that during the independence contemporary dance began to develop in Ukraine, also thanks to GOGOLFEST, which mostly included a powerful dance program. In 2006 Larisa Venediktova, Olga Komissar and Alexandra Lebedeva started the group of artists named TanzLaboratorium: a company that unites choreography and performativity. These artists are interested in the human body with its unplanned, “non-staged” reactions. The company created a number of remarkable performances, whose titles speak for themselves and reflect the topics with which they work most: Risk Assessment (2011, in cooperation with Jeremy Deller, Moscow), Post-Ukrainian Body (2012, Kyiv), Dictatorship Of The Victim (2017, Kyiv). In 2010, the first festival fully dedicated to modern dance, Zelyonka-fest, was launched; its founders were Anton Ovchinnikov and the Black O! Rank Dance Theatre. This festival also has a long, breath-taking history, and continues today.

For its 10th anniversary, GOGOLFEST produced a lot of independent co-productions and iconic projects: The Dog’s Booth (2010) based on the texts of Dostoevskyi and Klim, HamletBabylon (2013) in cooperation with Swiss actor Bartolomeo Sozanski based on Shakespeare, Heiner Muller, and Ekaterina Babkina, Antigone (2015) by Lucy Berelovich along with the members of Dakh Daughters, etc. Among the first foreign theatre companies to perform at GOGOLFEST are Gorky Theatre (Germany), Oskaras Korshunovas Theatre (Lithuania), La Fura Dels Baus (Spain). In 2017, GOGOLFEST was awarded the EFFE label by the European Festival Association, and today it develops modern art in different regions of Ukraine. In Mariupol, Startup GOGOLFEST was held recently for the first time, and in Ivano-Frankivsk, PORTO FRANKO, a festival of modern art, was held for the fifth time in 2018.

Full version the Theatre Times

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