Common buzzwords’of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival include bold, daring and international. Alonya Ageeva Physical Theatre from Russia are ticking all of these boxes, with their two contemporary dance production offerings this year. Sky Labyrinths, an immersive portrayal of the fall of man, and (Some)Body, an exploration of the nude form.
Nudity creates either extreme honesty or extreme vulgarity; it’s important to locate a balance
Despite strong stylistic differences between the two pieces, Director Konstantin Konstantinos believes that Edinburgh audiences will benefit from observing both productions, as the shows are designed to complement each other. This is most obvious through their shared theme of creation. Sky Labryinths nods towards the biblical metaphor 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 the Eros, the Greek god of attraction. He gives 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 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 Konstantinov reveals that the nude performances have moved some people to tears.
The company garnered much excitement with their piece at last year’s festival, and they are optimistically hoping to return next year. They are upset that circumstances between Russia and the UK are deteriorating and they, as well as performers, hope they can perform a role as cultural ambassadors for their country. Their strong and positive presence at the festival certainly lends itself to this.