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Ballettikka Internettikka: Pranksters or Visionaries?


As patrons took their seats at the gala marking "International Day of Solidarity with the Bolshoi Theater" on March 28, 2002, security staff at the theater turned away two men carrying large bags full of recording equipment.

Unperturbed, the pair circled the outside of the building, located a window in the cellar, and broke in. Emptying their bags, they wired together two laptops, a mini digital camera, MP3 audio systems, and mobile WAP telephones. While the Bolshoi Opera and Ballet were performing Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tsar's Bride upstairs, Igor Stromajer danced to Brane Zorman's mixed sounds in the dank basement, and their 11-minute performance was broad-cast live over the Internet.

Visual artist Stromajer and musician Zorman are self-styled "ballet guerrillas." Since 2001, they have made incursions into the Teatro alla Scala in Milan and the National Theatre in Belgrade. At La Scala, they replaced themselves with two remote-controlled robots and wireless web-cameras, which they controlled from a van parked outside.

Gaining admittance to La Scala artists' kitchen, where the robotic performance and broadcast took place, was relatively easy. In Belgrade, they wanted to perform in the ballet director's office, where the most important artistic decisions are made. They breached security by posing as employees of a non-existent Serbian electrical company--Elektroda d.o.o.--repairing a nonexistent fault that had been reported by an undercover collaborator working in the theater (code name: Miroslav).

So what is the goal of these performances? Stromajer claims that the Bolshoi incident was an attempt to demystify the mythical status of the great theater. In 2001, incoming general director Anatoly Iksanov told the Moscow press he would like to include new dynamics in the theater. Stromajer felt that his emerging project, Ballettikka Internettikka, was suitable. Although the project received first prize at the Media Forum Festival in Moscow that year and a sufficient budget was in place, letters to the theater went unanswered. So, Ballettikka Intern-ettikka decided to perform illegally.

Stromajer isn't a vengeful failed auditioner out to prove a point. His untrained and ungainly movements--or those of the robots--are deliberately unlike what would normally appear onstage. They magnify his challenge to traditionally held values around dance.

And then, there's the suggestion of voyeurism. The grainy black-and-white films on their web site hint at subversive activity more sinister than dancing, as they are filmed entering buildings, setting up their hi-tech equipment, performing, and then leaving. In their four-minute video, Red Code, images of the Bolshoi performance are mixed with those of the siege at the Dubrovka Theater in Moscow, where Chechen terrorists and 129 hostages were killed as Russian troops stormed the building. The conceptual parallels might seem tenuous between the bodily sacrifice of homicidal-suicidal terrorists and the ballet dancer whose body is surrendered in the name of art. But as the project develops, a collage is forming around Ballettikka Internettikka, and the artists seem happy to let those images sit together and coalesce until they form something mythical.

Online videos of the Ballettikka Internettikka netcasts are on www.intima.org/bi.

© www.dancemagazine.com
May 2006
Igor Štromajer Intima Virtual Base Virtualna baza Intima Igor Stromajer www.intima.org Igor Štromajer








Ballettikka Internettikka

 
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