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7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope


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28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidans three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the countrys stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.

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Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.

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Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.

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Kyiv Culture

Me and My Shadow

As a relatively new dance theatre, you wont find too much information about Helianthus online. Even their website is a bit austere. Make no mistake however, this Vienna-based troupe, bringing their internationally-acclaimed The Fantastic Shadows to Kyiv next week, is no apparition.

Just two-years old and already the Helianthus (Latin for sunflower) Dance Theatre is shining on stages across the European continent. Tailoring their show to each town in which they perform, they promise something special and unique at their show in October Palace on 21 and 22 February.

Image Transformation
As the name suggests, The Fantastic Shadows are all about taking stories in whole or in part and recreating them using shadows. Featuring elements of action performance, musical theatre, contemporary dance, circus art, as well as a tremendous amount of trash-style, artistic directors Mia Larrson and Manuel Wagner say a big part of the show is the actual creative process. They do a lot of research online for monuments, famous personalities, and various cultural symbols. And then there is the musical aspect, which is very important for the show. Mostly the music gives us the main inspiration. So we search for well-known music and movie scenes that are creatable in shadow. Some movie scenes are easy to transform into shadows, and some are impossible, they say.
Tailoring aspects of their show, including words and letters, depending on where they happen to be performing, here in Kyiv the dance theatre have included an excerpt from the well-known Soviet cartoon Masha & the Bear. Well-versed in various aspects of cultural icons across the continent, a large portion of their calendar year must be spent in rehearsal. Not so according to the directors: Because seven of the dancers in the ensemble were already taking part in The Fantastic Shadows, most of the(m) had the know-how of shadow dancing already, (so) a rehearsal phase of three weeks (was possible) this year.
The fact that these performers have danced together previously plays a significant role in their ability to convincingly perform on stage, a reality Larrson and Wagner say plays in their favour: Most of us have known each other from ballet school, which we have been doing from the age of 10. Because we shared this important phase of growing up together, the connection within the group is strong, and thats also visible on stage.

The Philosophy Of Shadow
The use of shapes, shadows, lights and objects in The Fantastic Shadows are all in accordance with elements in German Expressionism, and though Larrson and Wagner say the group is influenced by Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, and Slava (Polunin a Russian performance artist and clown), all of whom were a driving force in the Expressionist movement in the early 20th century, they say their performance is less self-reflexive: Our show discusses the interplay between the modern human being and his struggle with the profit-oriented and egocentric, materialistic worldview. Technical innovations like the smart phone play an important role in the performance. The human being, a body trapped in a world of concrete and electronic devices, becomes a slave to technical advancement.
Though the two argue The Fantastic Shadows have no concrete philosophical thread, if they had to choose one artistic movement their performance represents it would be postmodernism. Everything nowadays has an essence of postmodernism. In our case it is the technical possibility of a beamer that projects light on a screen. In this light, new shadow pictures are possible. They wouldnt be possible (otherwise). Insofar it is postmodern.
Though the two are reluctant to commit to a philosophical theme, Larrson and Wagner do admit that there is a psychological aspect to their performance: Shadows can be seen as the unconscious part of humans. The dream-like. The unknown. Shadows of humans are their reflections, that is why people are afraid of them. They fear the dark side of themselves.
Of course, you could just enjoy The Fantastic Shadows for what it is a fabulous performance of dance, music, light, video projection, and optical illusion. Should you choose to take in either of their two shows next week, which will see performers turn into horses, camels, frogs, Transformers and the Statue of Liberty within the blink of an eye, the directors hope you sit back, relax, and after the show try not to get stuck in everyday work. Try to see the world creatively, with the eyes of a child.

The Fantastic Shadows
2122 February at 19.00
Tickets: 100 1,000hrv
October Palace (Instytutska 1)
www.icca.kiev.ua

by Olga German and Lana Nicole

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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didnt Know We Had

    Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they dont understand the meaning of these words.


    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades childrens favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. Whats On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.

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