Common ‘buzzwords’ of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe include bold, daring and international. Alyona Ageeva Physical Theatre Posleslov from Russia are ticking all of these boxes with two contemporary dance productions: Sky Labyrinths, an immersive portrayal of the fall of man, and (Some)Body, an exploration of the nude form. Despite strong stylistic differences between the pieces, director of the company, Konstantin Konstantinos, believes that Edinburgh audiences will benefit from watching both productions as the shows are designed to complement each other.
Nudity creates either extreme honesty or extreme vulgarity; it’s important to locate a balance between the two.
This is most obvious through their shared theme of creation. Sky Labryinths nods towards the biblical story of Adam and Eve, whereas (Some)Body depicts human birth. The difference is down to Konstantinos’ view of creation as a continual process: "There are many creations of the world in our lifetime. We are born as students when we start going to school; some people get married and that is also the start of a new world. This is why the creation story is a very powerful metaphor. Every quest in our life starts with a re-birth."
Turning to (Some)Body, Konstantinos explains that the piece has always been intended as a nude performance, a choice based on what he saw lacking in the dance scene: "Nudity creates either extreme honesty or extreme vulgarity; it’s important to locate a balance between the two. So far, all the nude shows we’ve seen have failed to achieve this. If you don’t see what you want, you must create it yourself." He observes nudity as a powerful creative tool, a power which is referenced in (Some)Body through Eros, the Greek god of attraction. He gives an example of this power in everyday life, arguing that "the use of nudity is excessive [in advertising] because it’s a strong hook for attention that once caught, can be manipulated."
Audience feedback is crucial to the company and the shows are even adjusted depending on responses, which are collected on forms. Konstantinos believes that "when people try to express a visual experience in words, it becomes even deeper. For us, the audience is a full participant of our show." It certainly seems that the company are providing a powerful experience and Konstantinos reveals that the nude performances have moved some people to tears.
The company garnered much excitement with their piece at last year’s Fringe and they are hoping to return in 2019. They are upset that situation between Russia and the UK is deteriorating and hope that they can take on a role as cultural ambassadors for their country as performers. Their strong and positive presence at the Fringe certainly lends itself to this.