VILNIUS - The usual May in Vilnius promises two things 's sunny weather and spectacular dance performances. And although the sun could back out on us this year, a rainbow of dance shows might just make up for it. New Baltic Dance '05, a yearly favorite, kicks off on May 1 in Klaipeda, only to end up in Vilnius two days later.
One of the 10-day event's biggest stars will be Great Britain's internationally renowned performer, choreographer and director Nigel Charnock, who Brits refer to as a "national treasure" and "legendary virtuoso." The co-founder of DV8 Physical Theatre, Charnock has performed extensively world-and nationwide. The international choreographer has worked in Denmark, Portugal, Finland and Wales.
As for his work, each piece has set a reputation for its irony, wild amusement and black humor. Charnock skillfully mixes the means of music, drama, and theater into a dance-cocktail that sparkles with intelligence. It has been said that, to enjoy his work, you need freedom from prejudice, love, and humor. Charnock's dancers exhibit a versatile grip of scenic representation, and when they climb on stage their talent takes the audience by storm.
The choreographer has received just as much praise for his original solo performances. One of those 's his latest solo "Frank" 's will be featured in Vilnius. "Frank" is about men relating to women or, to be more apt, their failure to do so. Named after his father, the show is also strikingly 'frank' about love, death, sex and the family concept.
And that's just one show. When it comes to choreography, Norway has no shortage of pride for Jo Stromgren. "Hospital," a story about three nurses stationed at an abandoned provincial clinic, will add a darker, Scandinavian tone to the festival. Working in a cold building that never actually sees patients, the medics' inevitable lack of motivation gradually threatens their giving virtues. The three ultimately decide to practice exactly what it is they've been educated to do - pain relief.
Set in a 1950s style hospital, the dancers prance around in classic nurse costumes. Yet there's a twist to this realistic visual setting. Everything, including costumes, is dirty. A place that is supposed to be clean and sterile is smeared with grease, caked in dust and stained with human liquids. Nevertheless, the performers treat their surroundings as if they were of the cleanest sort, heightening their sense of isolation.
Each year the festival tends to bring more Lithuanian choreographers and projects. This time around, a lucky seven has made the list. One of the must-sees is "Bolero," the newest work by Angelina Cholina. Arguably the most prominent choreographer in the country, through dance, Cholina tells the story of seven men and their diverse emotional conditions. The show culminates when each reveals an unexpected secret.
One evening will be exclusively devoted to Latvian modern dance. Olga Zitluhina, admired equally by Lithuanian audiences and critics, will bring alive an act called "A Ticket to Yalta." Presumably the most popular and truly the most productive Latvian choreographer, Zitluhina's plays stand out for their humoristic perspective on a woman's role in society. The choreographer's unexpected insights will catch even the shrewdest spectator off guard.