Alexander Mogilev, choreographer, & ETO Russian Dance Company
To discover the beating art of Russian contemporary dance, take the dark green metro line, find your way through tall grey buildings covered by snow and after the usual hunt for the right entrance of the correct building, smell the vintage scent of sweat and efforts.
For once the cliché is right : Russia is all about ballet. What you may discover after some time is that folk dance is also a treat here, a way to discover the numerous traditions still in fashion to celebrate the colorful heart of Russia. Since the 90s, show business has also made its way and offers a wide range of shiny dancers for every festive occasion. Among all that, for the past 10 years a more artistic practice has been emerging, and a small crowd wants to give Russian contemporary dance its letters of nobility and promote it as the true face of the country’s artistic modernity.
What does it take to do it ?
The answer is not surprising yet very interesting : basically, do not long for money, and dance your heart out for it. As there is more and more paid work for modern dancers, going non commercial remains a struggle, as illustrated by the team of PROBA № Festival.
PROBA № festival was created earlier in 2017 and will be having its second session at the Aparté Theater in February (24-28th). This festival was created by Alexander Mogilev and his team to promote contemporary dance and experiment on the way it can serve the community.
Around the project, a real company has formed. In a professional life full of challenges and various engagements, it seems that each dancer gives Proba a special place. As such, every one is taking part of the communication and production work, such as Alisa, our contact and translator.
Indeed, here like elsewhere, speaking english is not a must-do. Among the 14th dancers we met, whose ages ran from 14 (!) to 30 yo, there were only two men and 3 english speakers. But one cannot do everything at the same time. Being a professional modern dancer today in Moscow may be easier than it was before, but it is still not a piece of cake. Especially if you want to choose what you dance. The digital era and social media may facilitate PR and personal branding but created time eating must dos. So, as freelancer, dancers often cumulate several projects at the same time, seeking for the impossible balance between food work and artistic development. It seems that under the leadership of Alexander Mogilev, the dancers of the Eto Russian Dance Company have the chance to do both, embodying the fact that a troupe is often a second family, providing its members, as much as possible, with a roof (a dance studio), some food (with paid missions), guidance, care and warmth.
“Here it is about soul and friendship. We develop ourselves. Over there, we work.”
Meet Alexander Mogilev
How did it all begin ?
I started dancing when I was in college. Even at 13 yo, I understood that I could not do anything else. So after school I left my city to Petrozabodsk. I studied dance and choreography there, in Moscow and in Austria. At first it was mostly underground work, known by only a small crowd of amateurs and friends. Then I took part in the TV show (Dance ! on 1st Canal, Danse avec les stars for French readers). After the show, it was easier to talk about contemporary dance and to develop projects. PROBA № Festival and its artistic quest exist thanks to it. During the festival, the audience will discover different works by Russian dancers and choreographers from all over the country, and our company’s new show.
What is the business model of the Festival ?
We don’t have any business model for now. We have the goal and the idea (meaning promote contemporary dance by reaching to the audience during a festival). As for the money, we are struggling and trying to find new ways to solve this problem. For example we tried a crowdfunding campaign. But actually we will make the festival a success even though we don't have enough money. More than earning money, my goal is to popularize contemporary dance and to share the light, the positive energy that contemporary dance unleashes.
Do you feel like an entrepreneur ?
Yes, all these projects are my life and I love it. Managing people, even the administrative tasks, this is not work to me, just life.
Let’s wish that, in spite of the twists and difficulties of creating a real contemporary dance culture and ecosystem, PROBA № Festival and its members will liberate so much of that positive and creative energy Alexander talked about that people will feel it and cultural institutions acknowledge it.
Buy Tickets for the festival here.