By British Council in Georgia

20 November 2019 11:38

There is no big difference in the cultural sector — whether you are with or without disability

This is what Anastasia Mnatsakanova — a professional dancer from Georgia — is convinced of. The girl became one of the 10 participants in the inclusive performance “The Argonauts” created by the British troupe Candoco Dance Company in collaboration with the international team of Lost Dog artists with the support of the British Council and the programme Unlimited: Making the Right Moves.

I am a professional dancer and partner with Tbilisi Inclusive Dance Company. I met Jemima Hoadly, the British choreographer and one of the producers of “The Argonauts” performance, in Tbilisi about two years ago during a dance master class by Candoco Dance Company. I was fortunate to get into the team of “The Argonauts” based on the results of the casting which took place in Kyiv.

I became interested in the project because I sing and dance but had not yet participated in inclusive productions. For me it was a completely unusual experience, thanks to this I managed to discover something new in myself and get a fresh look at simple things.

Preparing for the premiere, we trained for 5-7 hours during 20 days. Time flew by imperceptibly, because, firstly, we were busy with interesting things, and secondly, we constantly noted something new – in approaches, in properties, in reactions. There was always a pleasant atmosphere on stage, it largely depends on the team.

Before participating in the project, I had a short break in dance classes. I was more busy with other things. But when the rehearsals began, I start to move and dance a lot again and got a lot of inspiration. It is partly because there was a lot of freedom. And I came from a ballet school, where I got used to a rigid structure: I do what I'm told. Improvisation reigned there! When you know how to improvise — it gives a completely different feeling.

In the cultural sector, it does not make much difference whether you have a disability or not. The presence or absence of a wheelchair does not play any role. Disability is not an obstacle to the creative process, and the production of “The Argonauts” is a good example. It all depends on whether you are ready to open up, whether you are ready to try, whether you are ready not to be fixed on the thought that you will be rejected. Rejected and rejected. There are many other places and ways to prove yourself. The main thing is not to stop.

“The Argonauts” is an interesting and unusual production. First of all, because the performance is based on our personal stories, the individuality of each of the participants is preserved. Also, directing, music, set design — everything has a rich and high taste.

There are many stereotypes associated with disability. Of course, this is too complex social topic to work with it only through performances and shows. But, of course, the more such projects, the closer we are to positive changes in the public consciousness. When I hear, they say, “Look, a disabled person on stage, I did not think that they could move like that!” – I understand that everything is not in vain!

It’s hard for me to talk about the future of the project, but the participants and all the organizers are definitely interested in it. I see no reason to stop there. On the contrary, I expect development. But cooperation, collaboration, and raising awareness about the possibilities of inclusive performances are important.

The Argonauts premier in Tbilisi as part of the UK/Georgia Season

About the programme and the performance

Unlimited: Making the Right Moves is an international British Council programme that supports the professional development of disabled artists. The programme includes educational events, research and consulting work, support for the production of professional works in performing art.

The Argonauts is a dance performance by the disabled and non-disabled dancers from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine.

The Argonauts is the creation of Lost Dog’s Artistic Director Ben Duke, working in collaboration with artists Welly O’Brien and Jemima Hoadley and producer Ellie Douglas-Allan of Candoco Dance Company.

The premiere of The Argonauts in Tbilisi was held as part of the UK/Georgia 2019 Season.