Latvian and Lithuanian Ethnic Spirit and Contemporary Dance

Marta Keil invited project partners to contribute to the Identity. Move! e-book. Inta Balode and Ingrida Gerbutaviciute were proposed to write a united text about the Baltic dance situation. Inta, Ingrida and Marta
liked the idea but the question was what to do with “being so busy”? Inta Balode offered to look at the text she wrote 18 months ago about national identity in dance for the music magazine Mūzikas saule. Inta & Ingrida have collaborated before in writing reviews, signed as IN & IN when they both wrote about the same performance. The rules of the game: Ingrida goes and sees it; Inta reads programme notes. Now IN & IN is back. The rules of the game echo the game played before: Inta translated and shortened a text written for a completely different context; Ingrida filled in her comments, knowing that they are written for the Identity.Move! context.

Inta: Generally, the term ‘Latvian in spirit’ is quite actively used, so it could be said that this concept characterising identity has certain specific features. Likewise, there are some things that are Latvian and some that are not in dance as well. Living in a country which has always had its ethnic tensions, Latvians might choose, either consciously or unconsciously, what one could call their ‘things Latvian’. For example, it is common to support folk dance groups, both financially and emotionally, more than any other groups, which might even do a better job of community involvement and health support. There are much fewer system -supported opportunities to be a member of a hip-hop group, for example.

Ingrida: To differ from ‘Latvian spirit’, Lithuanians talk about ‘Lithuanian spirit’, as they feel a certain danger of ‘losing’ their identity. On the social and political level, Lithuanians talk about
emigration and patriotism and they strongly reject the idea of bilingualism of the Polish community of Lithuania, who want to use Polish letters for street names. It may show the danger of the past when both countries – Lithuania and Poland – built one state called Rzeczpospolita, The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, which existed for two centuries, from 1569 till 1791. It can also harbour a certain fear that a small country (according to the Lithuanian Department of Statistics, at the beginning of 2014, the population of Lithuania had reached 2.9 million) one day might disappear from the world’s map. But let us leave topical fears aside and take a look of what is going on in Lithuania’s field of dance.

If you hear the term ‘Lithuanian dance’, you should imagine poetic and melancholic dance mixed with true feelings, women’s issues and certain archaic rituals – we, the dance critics have been saying it for quite a while. But how is it now?


You will find a whole text here: Identity. Move!

IDENTITY.MOVE! project organized by Goethe-Institut Warsaw, The Centre for Culture in Lublin, Eastern European Performing Arts Platform, Motus o.s. / Alfred ve dvoře in Prague and the
Greek National School of Dance in Athens.

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