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VISAGE MOVEMENT THEATRE COMPANY
Tashkent, Uzbekistan

The theatre was founded in 1982 as an ensemble of modern choreography. Since 2003 we have been working as an integrated company that is we unite children and young people with disabilities, their peers and professional dancers.

The art of dancing is associated first of all with a beautiful and healthy body. In fact dancing is possible if there is such a body. But the "Visage Movement Theatre" has developed its relations with dances on a different basis.

Since the very start the theatre has been concerned with philosophic and psychological aspects of art, we have been looking for inner motivation for movement.
How and why happens the birth of a gesture/ how and why a gesture appears?

We were talking/thinking of a birth/appearance and not of thinking up /inventing a gesture. We gradually came to improvisation. It was not enough to understand the laws of improvisation, to engage in it practically. The main thing turned out to be to direct the search in such a spiritual course that would not lead our work to meaningless movement of body. Based on improvisation we staged the performances ("One Evening", "Secret", "Railway Station", "A Petition", "Nativity", "Azimuth" and others), which the theatre presented at international projects and festivals.

Together with French colleagues we organized several projects in Uzbekistan and France. .

It was because of our experience of many years that the theatre was able to start working with people with disabilities. The first step along this path was made in 1996 in France where Lilia Sevastyanova conducted a workshop on dance improvisation. Among the participants there happened to be a girl on crutches. Her participation in the concluding performance shocked everybody and for Sevastyanova it was a proof that in a real profound theater a spectator "sees’ an actor at the level of soul, "through body". And that means that a person with imperfect constitution can take part even in a dance performance.

The positive experience gained in France inspired Lilia Sevastyanova to continue to look for ways to involve people with disabilities in dance improvisation. She started to work with the children from the Club for Rehabilitation and Integration of Children with Disabilities. Little by little the professional dancers of the Visage Movement Theatre began to support their leader in her endeavors. Several integrated performances have been produced over time, they include "I Dream that I Can walk" (2004), ‘Rainbow’s Day" (2005), "Improvisations from Life" (2006), "White Seagulls over the Blue Lake", (2007), "Reflections" (2009), "Presence" (2011), "Uninvented portraits" (2013),"Out of the depths I have cried to thee..." (2013). and others.

The names and topics of the performances are not invented, but are taken from real life. Choreography is also not composed but is born in the process of dance improvisation when the internal unity and interaction of such different actors find realization in "speaking" gestures and movements. In the process of rehearsals we find so many true-to-life topics and situations that there is no need to look for dramatic concepts which develop on the basis of every day work.

For example, the story of Valera, a young man with severe cerebral spastic paralysis. He participated in our first performances dancing in his wheelchair. Later, at one of the rehearsals of "Improvisations from Life" Valera all of a sudden stood up unexpectedly for all of us and since then he has been dancing on legs being delicately helped by other dancers.

The stories of many other young people with disabilities are also striking and while they, including those with mental invalidism, improvise, very often a beautiful and meaningful dance is born.

At present the group unites about forty people. More than twenty of them are young people with
physical and mental disabilities: moving on wheelchairs, deaf-and-dumb, having cerebral spastic infantile paralysis, oligophrenia, Down's syndrome, with various disorders of support-locomotion system, visually impaired.

It is interesting to note that the first performances with participation of people with disabilities staged back in 2003-2004 could hardly attract spectators. The public was not prepared to join such notions like "art" and "people with disabilities". Nowadays the "Visage Movement Theatre" is an important and integral part of Tashkent’s cultural life. The performances of the group take place on the best stages of Tashkent with full house even though it is huge Big Theatre of Opera and Ballet named after Alisher Navoiy.

All this shows that the "special" theatre is in fact very close to genuine art, since at the basis it has real overcoming, inner yearning for perfection and beneficial influence on spectators.

The "Visage Movement Theatre" has a big repertoire and is a Laureate and a participant of international festivals and theatre projects. In recent years the theatre took part in the following festivals:
  • The First World Congress for Persons with Disabilities (Ekaterinburg, 2017)
  • Festival of Young Talents “Blue Bird - Inclusive” (Ekaterinburg, 2017)
  • All-Russia Festival of Special Theatres "PRO-Theatre" (Moscow, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016)
  • Inclusive Dance International Charity Festival (Moscow, 2014, 2015)
  • "ArtEkaterinburg" (Ekaterinburg, 2015)
  • "Sincere Art" Festival for special theatres (Ekaterinburg, 2014)
  • International Festival "The Star of Hope" (Saint Petersburg 2010)
  • International Festival "Four Elements" (Moscow, 2009)
  • Exposition at the Theatrical Market within the framework of the Festival "Golden Mask" (Moscow 2008, 2009)
  • "Ilkhom 2008" prize in nomination "For Honor and Dignity in Art" (Tashkent, 2008)
  • International Integrated Festival "Sunny Wave" (Kiev, 2008)
  • "The residency of Uzbek artists in les Rosiers sur Loire" (France, 2007)

Art director : Lilia Sevastyanova,   Tel: (+99890) 808 80 54,     e-mail: visage.theatre@gmail.com