27.09.2021 Maria Bregman is a journalist, writer and contemporary art researcher.
The International Tourism Day in the ‘Izmerenie art space has established itself as a celebration of friendship, athletics, and arts. This year, despite having fewer represented destinations, a great number of talents got together to express their appreciation for foreign cultures and share experiences. One of 7 performances was devoted to the United Kingdom.
It opened with a rendition of “All the world’s a stage” by Mikhail Ushakov, an enchanting performer who set the tone for the whole show. There is no doubt that Shakespeare had an impact on numerous Russian authors, that’s why Michael Bird, the Head of the British Council in Russia in 2016, said that Shakespeare is “practically a Russian writer himself.” His pieces are taught at schools, and every professional actor must have a monologue up their sleeve. Ushakov did the soliloquy justice, projecting it so far that each audience member at the back could hear it. His play with consonants and vowels was breathtaking, and his sense of rhythm was impeccable. Although deep and mellow, the voice also had light notes, and with his presence and convincing acting, the actor drew the audience in. One of the most skilled conceits in all of English literature performed by the young man left the audience to reflect on their own lives and the current ‘stage’ they are in.
Sombre mood of the poem correlated with the paintings created by Anna Kulagina that were projected on the backdrop. Her paintings and mosaics were once exhibited at the London Art Fair and later were shown at many galleries across the globe. Her works accompanied the first part of the show and in 15 minutes, we saw a dozen of them. Still lives, landscapes and portraits showed off the artist’s talent to convey the surrounding reality in depth. To communicate with people through her works Anna considers the world around her before choosing the form and materials. Colours capture the full richness of her imaginative character. Her landscapes are sophisticated, her subjects extraordinary. While using brighter colours for depicting a boat on rough seas, she chose to paint abstract forms in hazy monotones. Anna’s paintings have a strong presence, that’s why Mikhail Makshanov, the art director of this production, picked her works to accompany the show to make the performance in the foreground more intense.
Linda Dance Company performed contemporary pieces to music by Greg Edward and Chris Hill. Dancers stood out for their playfulness, humour, precise synchronicity and stunning costumes. Mikhail Makshanov told us that although pieces had been staged beforehand by the company’s choreographers – Vladimir Tyminski and Olga Sirina, there was also room for improvisation so that dancers could dance from their heart, ‘feel’ the stage and engage with the audience.
Sound in Mikhail’s shows is a tool, a character itself, and the audience couldn’t help but notice it. He managed to achieve a harmonious fusion of classical text, Brit funk, and electronic music. The show was directed with a great passion for details, artistic exploration and a desire to evoke genuine emotions from the audience. Makshanov recognised talent in each of the artists and knew how to get the best from them. Light is another invaluable component of his shows. Each cue has a purpose: for the opening speech, more intimate light was chosen to draw us in and create an intriguing atmosphere. Lighting for the choreography going hand-in-hand with the music illuminated the stage accentuating the pas. The performers, music and light scores along with the paintings and photographs in the background created a festive yet at times pensive atmosphere and left the audience in awe.
Anastasiia Glazova, a prominent theatre costume designer, made a defining input into the Linda Dance performance with her signature style costumes, completing the atmosphere of the event and making the experience immersive for the viewers. Her subtle but succinct composition of textures was like a kaleidoscope of memories and subtle feelings of all the cultural references and history of costume that Anastasiia studied, combined with a generous inflow of her creative vision: innovative, bold, sometimes eclectic and highly emotional. Intricate combinations of natural and artificial textures, three-dimensional weaves, glossy highlights, matte, rough, vivid and faded together with geometric patterns made the choreography more complete and entertaining. Each of the textural collages in the costumes was a visual accompaniment to the dancers’ spectral expressions, mesmerising acrobatics and pronounced control of the body.
To heighten the performance by Ekaterina Solovieva, a soloist from Linda Dance, Makshanov chose works by Elena Evseenko, a photographer from Belarus.
Her shots, dreamy and romantic, were a great illustration of the dance that was taking place upstage. Her devotion to classical school inspired Elena to express her vision through halftones, half-glances, blurry lines; through the subtle sensations of a moment slipping away. So in the photos presented that day she showed her vision of English traditions as if they were sketches from a novel. There was spiritual unity of the human with nature through the synchronization of glances and postures. Elena’s work with light makes her shots romantic yet sombre at the same time. Tender and sad, inspiring and encouraging to dream more.
Other performances on 27th September were inspired by Kazakhstan, Turkey, Norway, Brazil, Armenia, and Italy. International Tourism Day is celebrated every year, and this time the Britain-inspired performance has left a mark on the spectators’ and other participants’ hearts.