Gilles Amalvi - Interview program Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales de Saint Denis, 24.04.2004
Your choreography creates very pure and abstract forms but always inspired by russian reality. How do you project a poetic space from this realistic source?
“Russian reality” is the main source for my work. And it’s true, this reality in a country which is changing fast, which has lost its ideology, is not very poetic. But the, there is also a tradition in Russia, which is probably older than communism: to see this reality with a sense of absurdism and nostalgia. We know it’s bad and it has always been bad and it will always be bad, but, do we deserve better? I think that this culture has many reasons to create art. Maybe it’s a culture based on dreams, because reality is so bad and maybe it is these dreams which keep us alive, lift the reality into a more poetic level.
This performance deals with the situation of men. The image of man is often associated with strength. Did you want to go deeper into the fragile balance of that image and to represent the wounds of their body and minds ? How are their bodies affected by this reality ?
you would go in the Russian province you would see that Russian men are
hurt. There is often no work and if there is work, it won’t pay much.
It’s hard for them to maintain a sense of self esteem and most of them
try to solve their problems through alcohol, lots of it. It’s possible
to look at those men and to think: they are all the same and they
don’t have any feelings anymore. The men in “Staring” don’t look
like this. They look hurt by life, but they haven’t lost their
This reality is related to the violent history of Russia. Is this "staring into eternity" a step you wanted to make out of history, to tell just simply how men try to reach themselves ?
I don’t think that I have thought about this piece as being an allegory for Russian history. But of course, Russian history is about constant suffering and within that suffering, generation after generation has been able to survive by finding a reason to live: “tomorrow everything will be better”. Sometimes Russia gives you the feeling that nothing has ever developed. There are changes here, but one is never sure in how far it really touches the people. They seem to stay the same and “waiting” and “suffering” are still part of most people’s lives. That is maybe also why we have to find our own contemporary dance “styles” here. We cannot just copy styles that reflect a culture which is not familiar with our “reality”. These styles wouldn’t contain the language that I need to say what I have to say about and in my culture.
We can feel an ancient time going through the bodies. How are the different temporality - past, present, future - imbricated ? What is the place of silence ?
Russian contemporary dance choreographers, including me, have a strong
Did you try to generate a message of hope through this choreography ? Do you think that this "brotherhood" that leads the dancers is stronger than anything ?
has a recent history of social realism: every expression of art had to
have a message. I don’t intend I have one, but maybe I cannot escape
my past, so maybe I do.
Russian dance has a great history. Do you consider it as an "heritage", with which you have to deal with ?
am not sure whether I feel connected to Russian dance history, maybe
more to literature and film. As I said, I grew up in the far Russia
province, where nobody had any idea about dance as an art form. In
Siberia there are hundreds of groups that all practice their