Lithuania’s Aura Rewrite the Rules at Transgressions 2019

By Michelle Dee

Ar galiu su jumis pašokti? Contemporary Dance returned to the Live Art Space in spectacular fashion with the arrival of Aura Dance Theatre to Ferens Art Gallery this weekend. Saturday evening at Transgressions 2019 saw the first ever visit to the UK by Lithuania’s leading dance company Aura led by Birutė Letukaitė.

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‘I Wish to be the blossom of a Fern’ Aura Dance Theatre at Transgressions 2019

Audiences were treated to a sensational full-length dance work I Wish To Be The Blossom of a Fern. And what a performance, with bold, imaginative choreography, beauty and exuberance. It was no surprise after witnessing work of such high quality, that audiences rose to their feet to give Aura a standing ovation.

In 2016 digital artist Ed Grimoldby collaborated on Rosetta – Grim Visions with Lithuanian dancer Živilė Virkutytė. The dystopian dance work went on to win Hull Dance Prize in 2017 and also closed this year’s Transgressions festival.

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Upon first seeing the work, Keyna Paul, Hull Dance Creative Director, was moved to dig deeper into what was happening within contemporary dance in Lithuania.  Živilė helped Keyna to discover a vibrant dance sector with a rebellious approach to choreography and performance. The Lithuanian dance companies visiting Hull this weekend have given Trangressions 2019 a wide international appeal and opened up new audiences to world class performance, over the past three days.

I Wish to Be The Blossom of A Fern

I was really taken by the imagination in the movement, the way a linked circle divided the larger group in two. How a pulse at one end of a line resulted in the simultaneous pushing out of a dancer at the other end underlining how each dancer was connected to the other. The first section of the work a duet, included what was possibly trad Lithuanian folk singing and the reverence of red heeled shoes. I  was put in mind of a child trying on the shoes, later with the careful placing of the shoes I felt that the owner might now be absent.

The second section began with the rush of the rest of the company manoeuvring themselves in such a way to create a pile of bodies with one inverted on their hand seemingly growing from within the mass of bodies. How each came to life was thrilling each one inverted on their heads like an ancient forest living breathing and unpredictable. It was widely agreed that one moustached dancer, slight in build set the piece on fire, he leaped and spun out from the group who had at that moment been playing with momentum and transference, as the two ends of the line were flexed in, out and across each other. This slightly built dancer filled the space with heart-racing exhilaration and energy as he erupted stage front.

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Blossom of a Fern asks searching questions about how we reconnect to the natural world, whether we need to get back to our roots. I wonder whether getting bad to our roots is quite the answer rather learning about the roots of others might be the way forward. To build relations, share cultures with the spirit of generosity and understanding rather than being protective over our heritage. The act of reaching out to Lithuanians in Hull through dance has been hugely rewarding. I look forward to reaching out to more communities to share in cultural exchange via the unparalleled power of dance.

Aura Dance Theatre put on a spectacular performance and dance leaders in the audience agreed the work rivalled and even surpassed, that of like-companies in the UK.

Michelle Dee is a Freelance Digital Media Journalist specialising in the Arts and Culture sector in Hull, City of Culture 2017 Michelle graduated with a first class honours degree in Interactive Media/Digital Media Journalism from Hull School of Art and Design 2009 – 2012.

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