Steve Batts performing and teaching in Chisinau, Moldova, September 2019

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I was really happy to be invited to teach and perform at the Festival Contact+ in Chisinau, Moldova in September just past. The organisers are Alexandra Soshnikova (Sasha) and Sergei Golovnea (Serioja) with whom Echo Echo and I have collaborated since 2007, when I made a duet called “Intimacies” for them. Intimacies has been performed many times internationally and is still “live” after 12 years having become a sort of signature piece for them.

As well as being two of the most beautiful dancers I have ever worked with, Sasha and Serioja are wonderful and remarkable people and their success is undoubtedly founded in the incredible positive energy, good will and open-hearted attitude that they bring to everything they do. Working in rather difficult economic conditions in the capital of what is, by most measures, the poorest country in Europe they have managed to organise a string of successful international festivals on a shoestring budget.  Over the years they have also maintained the high quality of their particular artistic practice as contemporary dancers, improvisers and Contact Improvisers at the same time as working in an amazing variety of contexts, including cabaret, cruise liners, night clubs, hotel chains, the Eurovision song contest, a tango salon, and as judges and mentors on their national TV’s dance/reality TV competition. They also maintain a vibrant dance school for children which covers modern and traditional dance.

 

 

 

Alex and Serioja (right) performing during the festival. Sasha and Olek in a Contact Tango workshop (familiar Derry face in Moldova!)

The relationship between Echo Echo and Sasha and Serioja is a deep one which has developed over many years. They have been to Derry several times. They performed Intimacies in the Waterside Theatre in 2007, joined the Motion Ensemble project in City of Culture year, 2013, brought a full programme of work to the first Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement that same year and returned to the festival in 2017 to lead an improvisation-in-performance project with the Echo Echo Ensemble and to perform the duet, Gravity Free Point.

During the twelve days of the festival this September I taught classes for adults and children together (something that the Echo Echo ensemble and I have become somewhat renowned for in the past few years), a class for younger teenagers on phrasing and solos and a five day intensive performance workshop, for a multi-national group of adult festival participants, which led to an end of festival performance also focused on solos and phrasing.

I also performed my solo work, “How To Watch Dancing – Looking Away From The Naked Emperor”. The performance was on the enormous stage of the Ionescu Theatre, Chisinau. It was lovely to perform in such an important venue and the support from the main technician there, Tudor Carapascal, was fantastic.

 

 

 

Website of Ionescu Theatre http://tei.md/

Here are a few pictures of the audience watching my solo, How To Watch Dancing…

 

 

 

and here are some of me performing – with help…

 

 

 

… and here are a few pictures of the performance created in the workshop focusing on solos…

 

 

 

… and here are a few pictures of the various workshops I taught…

 

 

 

There were many other wonderful performers and teachers at the festival, including some familiar to Echo Echo – Leilani Weiss, Mirva Maakinen, Virginia Negru, Olga Braga – it was so nice to connect up with them.

You can find out more about the festival and the work of Sasha and Serioja at:

https://www.facebook.com/MoldovaContactFest/

Chisinau is a lovely city. Rather battered looking, but beautiful buildings and parks and an easy going rhythm which is rare in bigger European capitals. I’d recommend a visit!

Steve Batts 7th October 2019

 

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