Supple imagination

  • 2002-07-25
  • Virgilijus Savickas
At just 32 years old, Anzelika Cholina is already Lithuania's best-known choreographer. For 10 years she has helped redefine dance in the country and won acclaim for her ballets and her theater - the Dance Theater. Virgilijus Savickas asked Anzelika Cholina what she hopes the next 10 years might bring.

In December 2000 Cholina founded the Dance Theater. Since graduating from the Moscow Theatre Academy 10 years ago her career has gone from strength to strength, and she has produced five one-act ballets, 40 miniatures and the full blown ballet "Medea." The Dance Theater regularly performs at Lithuania's National Drama Theater and performed its "Tango in Fa" piece at the millenium celebrabrations in London to great acclaim.

Her latest production "Love," which debuted on Valentine's Day this year, has received rave reviews.

Why "Love"?

My performances aim to expose the clean side of human relations. Unlike the trendy zeal in theater to investigate ostensibly contemporary problems such as drugs, murderers and so on, humaneness and its presentation on stage are of particular interest to me. The dance performance "Love" is my vision, but contains plenty of irony as well. I do not consider it preaches in order to show people how they should live.

This is a story of a handful of people and how we all go through virtually the same feelings.

What's the purpose behind the irony?

In fact it's love that treats us ironically. We all imagine some great things but in fact what happens in love is repetitious. We should know as much about our feelings as a good housewife knows about cutlets. One should know one's self, take a detached view, know how to evaluate a situation. This is a part of our life which must be explored in order to attain happiness. We should understand our feelings, understand what we need and feel no fear of being happy.

What is the essence of your dance group?

I have no group - I stage performances. And I invite different performers for each performance - my theatre is a brand name only. Each performance, each theme, requires a different approach, unique characters and types of dancers. But I do my best to get them into the next performance as they already know my requirements.

Maybe it will become a stable company some day, but this is not an end in itself. A person should match a dance. No matter how talented you are if you don't see eye to eye with your director you'll never get the role. In fact it's a lottery.

What is your source of inspiration? Literature, art, music?

It is life, all that happens to me, what I go through, because this is what I know how to tell. Art and literature also accumulate inside a person and are no different from life. They are a form of self-expression. I can't imagine someone else writing for me and each performance is a very personal act. As long as I'm interesting enough for myself I do not need any authority. In fact I create for myself first of all, and if it's of interest to others it's a pleasure for me. My job is to speak with movement.

Do you have a favorite subject other than love?

As it happens I only have one subect. Whatever I do it revolves around relations between men and woman. The topic does not matter - it could be "Carmen" or "Anna Karenina."

Do you have a favorite type of audience?

No, I don't. People come and see my dance plays, and I'm very glad about that.

How you did you come to be a dancer? Dreaming about ballet shoes?

Nothing special. All little girls like to dance and so did I. I graduated from a Vilnius ballet school and subsequently as a ballet director in Moscow. My parents kept me busy with dance and music all day long. I never played in a courtyard like other children and though I had no childhood I feel no regret now. My career has developed much faster. It is usually only after the age of 40 that people get to be choreographers on their own but I am one now.

Which production was your greatest success?

It has yet to be staged. Everyone reacts differently. Some adore "Songs of Women," some like "Carmen," some "Tango in Fa," each according to his own nature. "Songs of Women" is already in its fifth season on stage and is a kind of classic.

If you had to dance the last dance in your life would it be a waltz or a tango?

I would rather not dance at all. I like many things. I can't say I have any special dance or piece of music.

Tell us about your next performance?

I don't want to talk about it now, but one thing I will reveal: that it will be soon and be a good one. To be more precise, it depends on funding.

Do you have sponsors? You can't survive just on ticket sales can you?

We do well, but I would still like some more attention from the state, which tends to think we are well off.

Do you participate in competitions for cultural funding?

There's no sense - I'm an insider, I know the structure. I understand how funding is given away to cronies.

Don't you have any?

No, I don't.

What about the commercial success of your enterprise then?

Of one thing I am sure. I became famous here only when I became famous abroad. It's a bad tradition, I did not seek it, but eveything points this way. Only then was I given attention here. Nevertheless, the first place where I always want to stage my performances is Lithuania and only after that in London, New York or any other imaginable place in the world.

It looks like you are well prepared for the unexpectedness of life, but are you happy?

At least I try to be happy. What makes me happy is the possibility of giving others the opportunity to express themselves. It's a truly great privilege in life.