Choreographer Birutė Letukaitė, "Contemporary dancers must have personalities" 0

Deimantė Dementavičiūtė-Stankuvienė, 2015-10-05
Head of the festival Birutė Letukaitė. Photo from the Aura archive

In brief: The Contemporary Dance Festival Aura, which will be celebrating its 25th anniversary will take place in Kaunas from the 7th of October to 11th. The head of the festival choreographer Birutė Letukaitė agreed to share her thoughts on the moods before the festival, special guests from abroad, contemporary dance genre and Lithuanian features in it.

I wanted to know what moods and thoughts surround the preparations for this year's festival and what makes the program special.

B. Letukaitė says that the festival program has already been concluded. “Now we are having all kinds of adjustments done by the management. My main job is to shape the program of the festival, to invite the performers. I always base my decision on what I have previously seen in other festivals. To this festival too - I invited the performers who had made the biggest impression on me. This year will feature many performances from Italy. Last year, when I was invited to the event dedicated to the new Italian dance in Pisa I discovered Italian dance.”

Another novelty in this year's festival - "4x4: dance tour of Kaunas Old Town." The group of people will go to the city with a guide and will observe dance in nontraditional spaces. Along the way, the tour guide will tell them some interesting stories about the Old Town houses.

I wondered whether some problems might have become visible during the 25 years of work. Birutė Letukaitė says it did, "We do not have a place to show our performances - it is one of the most acute problems. We are a repertory theatre without an actual theatre. We have plays that we could be showing constantly but we do not have a space. We actively participate in exhibition openings but these projects require new developments adapting them to the space. Kaunas needs an independent space like the Art's Printing House in Vilnius or Arts' Factory in Klaipėda."

How does one stay original in the contemporary dance context? According to Birutė Letukaitė, it is hard and it depends on the artist - how he/she thinks and what he/she wants. She adds, "It also depends on the viewer's taste. I personally like things that are unexpected. I always tell my dancers to improvise, to move away from clichés. The body wants to do what it knows, but improvisation opens up new paths of movement. Contemporary dancers have to have personalities, they cannot be faceless repeaters of movements."

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