On February 13,  2013, within the First Belarusian Forum of Physical and Dance Theaters ‘PlaStforma-Minsk-2013’ Irina Anufrieva (Sweden/Belarus) presented dance performance ‘VOID’ (dance and choreography — Irina Anufrieva, music — Diamanda Galás, costume and light — Joanna Bodzek).

VOID begins in silence. The figure of a dancer appears in the twilight of the stage. She stands motionless for a moment. Then slowly, letting the silence in, she starts her movement. First, one can barely notice it, shiver, breath, gaze. The sound of silence finds its physical shape. This dance lasts for about ten minutes. By seeing the shivering figure of the dancer in the twilight one falls into trance finding one’s own dance with one’s own self.

Irina Anufrieva VOID

Irina Anufrieva VOID

Suddenly after a short blackout the voice of Diamanda Galás breaks into the space, the legend of American avant-garde music scene, whose voice covers three and a half octave range. The dancer responds to the voice instantaneously. Another dance begins. Galás – screeches, with the sounds of the scream – of various frequency, pitch and volume – fills in the body of the dancer.

The voice and the body merge into one, creating dance of genuine beauty, dance that discloses unbearable pain and torment.

Exploring the sonance space of those who are placed in psychiatric hospitals by force and who go through torture of physical and mental experiments, Galás does not imitate that reality. Decomposing its components – the intervals and frequencies of the scream, for example – she creates an intense in its impact acoustic score. This is how torture in isolation can take its place in music.

Anufrieva transmits the music through her body. With roots in butoh dance she develops choreography on the subject of torture. She expands it: from torture in isolation to ‘the vulnerability of any alive being brought to the edge of her/his existence’. Irina’s body meets the music. Her task as a dancer is to give movement to every tone and resonance of Diamanda’s voice.

After the sounds of screams the silence falls, a short pause in order to face the sound again. These fragments of silence frame the first dance of screams and then the second one of frenzied laughter. These ‘frames’ intensify the impact.


Irina Anufrieva VOID

Because the main purpose of this dance is not the statement by Galás or Anufrieva, but the viewer who is strained and raped and whose emotional space is violently intruded by their duo.

Commenting on ‘VOID’ Anufrieva acknowledges the intensity of the work – both the sound and the movement. She is aware that not only for those who see work of this kind for the first time but also for the experienced audience watching this particular performance can be demanding. Nevertheless she is convinced of her choice. Moreover philosophy of butoh corresponds to both the subject and the intention of research by Galás and the choreography for the compositions of Schrei 27, a solo piece by Diamanda Galás about torture in isolation recorded in 1996.

The sound that extends beyond harmony and dance that challenges stereotype ideals of beauty, – still it is impossible not to watch and not to listen.

Unable to avert their eyes the viewers witness the secrecy of someone’s excruciation. Or maybe of one’s own? First comes the shock, then acceptance – of that other, injurious side of life – and at last, the void, emptiness, where alive heart starts beating.

From interview with Irina Anufrieva:

‘Butoh acknowledges coexistence of day and night, birth and death. There is no favour for the former or negation of the latter…

There is extreme amount of suffering in the world. In this very moment huge amount of people go through dreadful time and devastating experience in their lives. And most of them have no voice. With this work I want to give voice to those who aren’t heard. Certainly I want to give it to myself too’.

Irina Anufrieva VOID

Irina Anufrieva VOID

For many that night in Minsk became agonizing. It is difficult to say to what extent Anufrieva succeeded to give voice to those people. But it is definite that she gave body to their pain and torment. The dance which reaches one’s every nerve, repulsion which gives birth to beauty and gives strength to enter that very world with its undeniable harmony because both beauty and aversion coexist there.

It is that emptiness and void, after which one starts living anew, getting one’s own voice and body, and – an alive soul.

Text by Tania Arcimovič
Translated by Irina Yerkovich

photo © Alaksiej Stalarou

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