Imprint in Motion: contemporary music and choreography in a classical museum

International festival of contemporary choreography Context. Diana Vishneva, Aksenov Family Foundation and The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts present their joint film production Imprint in Motion.

Imprint in Motion is a cross-media work that brings together visual arts, contemporary dance, music and film. The human body in a variety of visual forms became its main character and material at the same time. Contemporary choreography rethinks plots from the history of Western European civilization in the space of the classical museum. Diana Vishneva played the role of a guide between the eras and the stylistic directions of dance.

The Pushkin Museum, with its collection of casts that represent the main monuments of world culture, furnished the project with a unique set design.Furthermore, as a depository of knowledge and visual traditions of the centuries-old cultural history, the museum set the direction for the entire plot of the film and for semantic connections within each act.

Imprint in Motion trailer

The project team was looking for visual images associated with the periods of fine arts that match the selected museum halls. It was important for choreographers not only to feel the energy of the era and convey the feelings of encounter with the works of art of Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, but also to find a conceptually verified figurative manifestation of their ideas. The dance was born in the process of interaction with new music, museum spaces, exhibition pieces and historical context. The cameraman did not simply record the process, his point of view was inscribed in the dance pattern and completely depended on the choreography.

Musical pieces that inspired the choreographers were written by contemporary Russian composers working in the academic genre. Three of them — Mark Buloshnikov, Alexander Khubeev and Daria Zvezdina — are laureates of the annual Russian Music 2.0 program of the Aksenov Family Foundation aimed at the development and rejuvenation of the traditions of the Russian composing school, and demonstration of  its best achievements in Russia and abroad. The choreographers involved in the film production are the finalists of the Context. Diana Vishneva international festival of contemporary choreography.

In 2020, the Aksenov Family Foundation launched the Russian Music 2.0 program aimed at developing and promoting the national school of composition and showing its best achievements on stages in Russia and abroad. The film Imprint in Motion, which includes pieces by the laureates of the program, became an important stage in the implementation of the foundation's mission — to create new approaches to the interaction of different languages ​​of contemporary culture. The convergence of contemporary academic music, contemporary dance and classical art at the territory of cinema is a wonderful example of how different art forms can organically coexist in one space, offering viewers a new emotional and intellectual experience.
Dmitry Aksenov, founder of Aksenov Family Foundation

Konstantin Semyonov builds on popular ancient mythology, working in halls dedicated to the art of Ancient Greece. Three scenes that he conceived for the film, suggest his interpretation of images of gods and heroes of the Olympic pantheon, as well as visual motives of Greek vase painting and sculptural reliefs of the Hellenistic era. His dance is accompanied by a music piece by Vasily Peshkov.

In the hall of art of Ancient Rome, Andrei Korolenko reflects on the relationship between man and power. Fragmented into separate choreographic narratives, the subject of his dance is based on the theme of opposition. The dancers act as gladiators, statues of the emperors staring indifferently at them. Contrary to the outward simplicity, the soundscape of Morendo by Mark Buloshnikov consists of many subtle instrumental details. Assembled from individual series of musical forms, the piece symbolizes alienation.

In the Greek courtyard, among the casts of the pediment of the Athenian Parthenon, Anna Shchekleina and Alexander Frolov dance the process of destruction. The main visual motive here is a beautiful body, broken by distress. Combined with Alexander Khubeev's Don't Leave the Room, based on acoustic experiments and the search for new sounds, this choreography weaves movement and music into a complex interplay that symbolizes the relationship between man and time.

In the production by Lilia Burdinskaya in the hall of European art of the Middle Ages, the main motive was the image of a woman — Eve or Lilith, a witch or a nun. Quoting paintings by Hieronymus Bosch in movements and gestures, the unhurried dance-procession unfolds as the simultaneous scene at the square theater. This ostensibly simple choreography is replete with images. The dance is staged to the music of Alexei Retinsky's Antiphones of the Birds for six violins that dramatize every gesture and amplify the feeling of tragedy.

The journey through the eras finishes with a duet in the hall of Michelangelo's sculpture. The dance, designed by Anna Shchekleina in an elegant contemporary style, emphasizes the lightness and grace that flows from one form to another and was inspired by the Renaissance master. Darya Zvezdina's radical musical statement proposes to distract from sounds and pay attention to what is usually left unattended — "side effects" and mistakes — creating an acoustic space of harmonic inversion that enters into a dialogue with the performative language of dance.

We travel from era to era. We discover that each of them has its own aesthetics of the body, and this aesthetics is not only about beauty, but also about politics, and about the world order. We find its own visual language for each era. For example, "Dionysian Dance" was filmed in one long shot, and "Medieval Procession" — from eight cameras. Diana becomes our guide, she is Eurydice and Orpheus at the same time; she passes through time to show us and our viewers not only the past, but also the present and the future. The museum is like a magic crystal, allowing us to glimpse into the image of the synthetic art of the 21st century.
Andrey Silverstrov, director of the film

The premiere took place on March 31, 2021, followed by further wide distribution and will also be presented online.

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