No Filters

Learn how to live within yourself —
There is within your soul a world entire
Of enigmatic, magic thoughts.
Fyodor Tyutchev,

However much people try to know and understand each other, language is never a perfect instrument. At times we expend so much energy in trying to find just the right words to express what we’re thinking, but a thought spoken is a thought finished, while in our brains no thought can ever stop evolving, adapting, expanding or diminishing. A thought spoken is a snapshot, and no matter how pretty and Instagram-ready it might be, #archive is its obvious status and predictable destination.

Nowadays, there’s an endless stream of these “archives”, like a modern version of popular prints extolling success and happiness: I was here, I ate that, I drank that, I had this experience, I know these people, I fit in...

This new online rat race is, of course, utterly dehumanizing. We all understand that, but paradoxically nobody wants to drop out of the race.

To stop us from losing our minds, it’s vital that at least from the stage there comes a forceful reminder that people can be different. We can mourn, celebrate, experience pain, fear, and misfortune or triumph and ecstasy. Because we are living beings.

Unlike those cut-out stories, life is always multi-dimensional, its internal dimensions no less important than its external. A process and not a state. No prettily filtered selfie can capture the plethora of paths and possibilities inherent in a human life. For that, you need art.

Dance Open’s 19th season is about the changeable state of a human life, with performances from the most avant garde and perceptive contemporary choreographers, focusing not on plot but on the increment and gradient of real (and at times uncomfortable) human emotions.

Ancient Scandinavian “life coaching” not only recommended at least on occasion going beyond the borders of everyday stereotypes, it also laid out step-by-step instructions for the ages. There is one day in every year when all portals are open: worlds collide, the borders between the mystical and the real melt, all thoughts are manifest and throb with the most fundamental passions. For this season of Dance Open, the summer solstice has been moved to 14 April, when the Russian premiere of Alexander Ekman’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as performed by Ballett Dortmund will provide a total immersion in the swirl of unbridled magic ritual. It has the power to blind, burn, and even terrify, but the burst of energy generated is definitely sufficient to code reality as the embodiment of the greatest mystery.

We continue to generate the energy of freedom on 16 April, when Ballet Nacional de España brings to St. Petersburg dance that translates the power and wisdom of the ages into fervent passion. Every piercing finger snap, the graphic sharpness of the alternating poses, the sudden conflagrations of black silk, and the predatory grace of the silhouettes are all stamped with a headstrong personality as sharp as Toledo steal, as lingering as Mauritian spices, and as beautiful as love itself. This Invocación is a tribute to the great dances of Eternal Iberia — Flamenco, Bolero, and the most varied shades of la Danza Estilizada in the exquisite treatment of Rubén Olmo and Antonio Najarro. They bring the Andalusian sunshine to anyone whose heart is ready to beat in time with the anyone whose heart is ready to beat in time with the castanets.

Then on 18 and 19 April, Dance Open invites those whom St. Petersburg’s inextricably changing seasons have taught to recognize the slightest fluctuations in mental temperatures to discover the penetrating choreography of Paul Lightfoot and Sol León and the electric plasticity of Marco Goecke. SH-BOOM! is the title both of this evening of Russian premieres of ballets performed by Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT-2) and of one of the three works featured by Lightfoot and León — the very work, in fact, that began their creative alliance with its jazz rhythms. Have you ever heard of the bridge of time on which monochrome and color, right and left, man and woman coexist in antithesis? In this virtuoso game without words they juggle black and white, irony and humor, and pantomime, inspired by the satirical engravings of Goya. In a space where amorousness transforms into love, they throw a challenge to their own shadows. But there comes a time when the game must end, and do you know how to stop a butterfly the second before it takes wing?

To scrutinize intently the movement of the body, to melt into perfection of line, to dreamily observe the transformation of silhouettes in space, as if in slow motion... 24 and 25 April the dancers of Dutch National Ballet will demonstrate their intricate mastery — employing the most complex techniques — in the perception of elusive emotions and moods. The program comprises masterpieces previously unseen in Russia by Hans van Manen, William Forsythe, and George Balanchine, all undisputed masters and shining geniuses of non-narrative ballet. The Netherlands’ cult brand of ballet will turn the stage of the Alexandrisnky Theater into a map of distilled emotion.

And what of fairy tales? There’s one of those, too, but not quite what you’d expect. The plot of Sleeping Beauty as choreographed by Jeroen Verbruggen will seem familiar at first glance to anyone who loves Tchaikovsky and anyone who in childhood read the Brothers Grimm or Charles Perrault. But the nightmarish visions of this princess are clearly not for children. In this fantastically beautiful fairy tale by Leipziger Ballett, good does not conquer evil, but only offers the hope of a happy ending. That comprises the main message of this production — while there is a place in the world for violence and dictatorship over the will of others, the curse of the spindle will go on repeating itself. Come and see on 22 April.

A personality update can start small — for example, by getting rid of the little mental bloodsuckers like envy, “acceptable” vanity, and the desire to fit in. In the break-dance hip-hop comedy Lobby that will be performed at Dance Open on April 26 by the French dance collective Tie Break, raucous laughter and “unrestrained” movement provide the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate the irrelevance of other people’s playbooks and cliches. Just imagine — you were destined for a career in the family business, and instead you went out into the street and began to make fouetté turns on your head. You weren’t striving for fame and fortune, you just wanted to be happy. But you ended up with all that and more, perhaps because you followed your dream.

So, perhaps it's time to set the songbird free and look more often to the heavens?
To love those you're drawn to.
To do what you love.
To laugh and cry, to experiment and make mistakes, to try and to win...
Or to lose from time to time.
Because life isn't content for your profile.
In short, to become at last the real you, with no filters.

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