Interview bachelor student dance Polina Nikolaeva

About her choreography 'Semi-processing. Consumed.'

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17 June 2020

Polina Nikolaeva, bachelor student dance at ArtEZ, made a choreography with the theme climate. ArtEZ studium generale spoke her about it.

Hi Polina, can you tell a little bit about yourself?
Hello! I’m a student of Bachelor of Dance in ArtEZ and I’m finishing the 2d year of my studies now. I’m from Moscow, Russia originally.

You made a choreography with the theme climate, correct? Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Well, initially I didn’t intend to focus on the topic of climate but it organically popped up while work creation. It happens in the process of making when you start seeing new perspectives and meanings to the images which first you see in your head. In the beginning I was inspired long time ago by the book of Richard Bach Jonathan Livingston seagull. Jonathan is a seagull who is sure that the wings are given to the birds not in order to get food but to discover its actual possibilities. He dedicates his life to learn the technique of the flight. As the result of his practice he is expelled from his flock. The book tells about his life after death and his return to the 1st life to teach other seagulls to fly and to see different things in life besides food.
I connected the story of Jonathan to the problem of consumerism nowadays. After a while, when I started to work at the piece, I started to see a strong idea of climate in it. Maybe it was something unconscious but important deeply that my mind started to translate it into the piece and that became so topical.

What exactly do you want to express with your choreography? And how did you translate that into the different roles that the dancers have, the sceneography, music etc?
I started to see the things clearly when we completed the piece for the Open Podium presentation with the dancers. What I want to bring out and research in my piece is the society of consumption, unconscious life without any lust for life. Blind existence.
In the piece I use plastic bags as the props to bring out the topic of nowadays ecological issues as an inevitable result of our “blind” life mind set or maybe an absence of that mind set at all. While consuming without thinking and following the stream of social majority, we become consumed by the world itself. We get into our own trap. In order to find a solution of the problem, we need to find the roots of the problem. And I find it in our hearts.
I give each dancer in my piece a particular social role, creating a somewhat like a structure of the society on the stage. The power of the leader is brought out as an important key of the life stream direction. But he’s also a part of the blind world.
I show modern life issues as the consequence of the modern human being precarious essence.
Consuming or consumed?

What is the purpose of this choreography? What do you want to achieve with it?
I think dance is the way of communication for me as a human being, so the main reason of the piece is to “discuss” important topics for me, to be heard and maybe find resonance in the spectator. I believe that dance is a beautiful tool (as art, generally, of course) to look at the things aside, to stop for a second and analyse what’s going on in the world, in your heart, in your life. I don’t think my piece can change the world but I think what we can do is to bring awareness and to look at ourselves from the outside. I see the majority of world issues as personal issues initially. If the world has some issue, in other words, a lot of people in the world have this issue. I see that my work helps me to see a lot of things from a new perspective. Thus, I confess that I see my imperfection – also in the topic of ecology and consumption – and suggest the audience to see if they can also find themselves in one of my dancers.

Can art really bring about change? And how then?
Of course. I think that any piece of art can bring about change. Art is always personal and it always influences each of us personally, that’s the beauty of it. So, art is able to change but not necessarily.
How? There can be a lot of answers, I guess. To inspire, to call for action, to question. Art gives thought, feeling. It depends how the audience reflects on it.

Do you think art has a task in this?
Depends on the intention of the maker. It is one of the possible tasks of it.

How does this choreography relate to the rest of your work?
For now my works are very intuitive, so I can’t say that they really relate to each other. It’s always a new thought or idea. Maybe what can be related to the other creations is that my works are personal, I talk about feelings and personal problematics. But maybe audience would not say so, who knows.

Do you have any sources of inspiration?
Dance performances and books. Other branches of art. Paintings, exhibitions, photography. Nature! Feelings – friendship, love. Anger. Actually, it may sound weird but I realized recently that self-talks – diaries - give me a lot of inspiration. In the self-talks, or essays, I realize the things which I feel I want to share with people.

Credits video choreography

The title of the choreography is Semi-processing. Consumed.
Music: Kangding Ray - Mirrors, Pascal Comelade - Wings on Rocks, Kangding Ray - Optium Perkin Flames (edited by Polina Nikolaeva).
Dancers: Mireia Varon, Florian DeToro Sola, Polina Nikolaeva, Matteo Adaldo.