In 2019 Candoco Dance Company, in collaboration with Lost Dog and with the support of the British Council, presents The Argonauts, the culmination of our four-year programme. With The Argonauts, the Unlimited programme showcases how ten professional and non-professional, disabled and non-disabled performers from different countries can work together. The result is a professional performance produced in just over 20 days during three residencies held in Kyiv between June and September 2019. 

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 20-minute performance “looks at how we build our sense of individual and collective identity through the telling and re-telling of stories. It is a piece about the mythical and the mundane and how they are much closer than we think” (Ben Duke, Artistic Director, Lost Dog).

Go behind the scenes and take a look at videos with our choreographer Ben Duke and trainer Welly O’Brien. Some exciting photos from residencies in Kyiv – work-in-process – are available on our Flikr account.

The Argonauts premieres on 25 September in Tbilisi, Georgia during the UK/Georgia 2019: New Horizons cultural season, which focuses on promoting inclusivity in the arts sector. The Unlimited programme is set to run alongside two 30-minute works performed by Candoco Dance Company. Following the Tbilisi performance, The Argonauts hits the national festival circuit, appearing on 28 September in Baku, Azerbaijan and 2 October in Yerevan, Armenia.

Performance details

The Argonauts is a fragmented re-telling of the story of Jason and Medea.  Told through words, music and movement. The piece looks at how we build our sense of individual and collective identity through the telling and re-telling of stories.  Like the Argonauts repairing their famous boat with pieces of new timber we have replaced parts of this famous story with stories of our own - but the Argo is still the same boat. The mythical and the mundane sometimes look very different but are made up of the same strange fabric that is our emotional lives.  

Conceived and Directed by: Ben Duke in collaboration with Jemima Hoadley, Welly O’Brien and The Argonauts Company

Produced by: Candoco Dance Company and Lost Dog

Lighting Design: Jackie Shemesh

Costume Design: Anna Ipatieva

Running Time: 15-20 minutes

The Argonauts Company – performers: Maria Bakalo, Manuk Saghatelyan, Andriy Shcherbatsky, Nigar Ibrahimbayli, Mher Zalinyan, Victoria “Vikki” Kliushyna, Vusala Babayeva, Iakob Gogotishvili, Natali Garkava, Anastasia Mnatsakanova

Commissioned by: British Council

Suitability: All ages


Find out more about our performers below, and take a look at some of their rehearsal photos

Anastasia Mnatsakanova | Georgia

Anastasia  is a professional dancer who danced with the Tbilisi Inclusive dance Company for one year. She has also participated in the Candoco workshop Dance Lab 1, led by Jemima Hoadley and Joel Brown.

Iakob Gogotishvili | Georgia

Iakob is a professional dancer and member of the Tbilisi Inclusive Dance Company who has participated in two Candoco-led dance labs in Georgia. Iakob was awarded the prize for the best dance performance on film at a competition organised by the Polish Dance Theatre in 2017.

Mher Zalinyan | Armenia

Mher graduated from Vanadzor State University with a BA in Socio-Cultural Management and now works with the Full Life NGO events team. In 2014, he participated in inclusive dance training sessions organised in Armenia by the Candoco Dance Company and the British Council. Since then, he has joined the core troupe at the Small Theatre, performed in five shows which toured the UK, Georgia, Italy and Kazakhstan.

Manuk Saghatelyan | Armenia  

Manuk is a graduate of Yerevan State College of Informatics and Regional College #1. He has also been working at the Mairig Centre as a woodworking tutor. In 2014, he took part in the inclusive dance training sessions organised in Armenia by the Candoco Dance Company and the British Council. Since then, he has joined the core troupe of the Small Theatre, performing in four shows which have toured the UK, Georgia and Kazakhstan. Manuk enjoys dancing, woodworking, carving and chess. His credo: “Believe in yourself and go forward”. 

Nigar Ibrahimbeyli | Azerbaijan

A 2010 graduate of the Choreographic School, Nigar is currently Artistic Director and Choreographic Producer at the Danceability Dance Studio, and Artistic Director of DamlaKids Dance Studio. A professional choreographer represented by the National Gymnastics Arena, MAG (Men of Artistic Gymnastics), Nigar joined the Unlimited programme in 2018 and has actively promoted inclusive dance practices in Azerbaijan.

Vusala Babayeva | Azerbaijan

Vusala has long had an active interest in dance, participating regularly in dance classes in Baku. She joined the Unlimited programme in 2018, performing in one of the leads for the Opening of the International Theatre Conference in November 2018. Vusala hopes to promote inclusive dance practices, actively cooperating with DanceAbility in projects alongside both non-disabled and disabled performers.

Natali Garkava | Ukraine

Natali worked as a solicitor after leaving university In 2009. She subsequently became involved in community activities, working on inclusive projects. She has been passionate about regular athletic competition since 2017 and in 2018 signed on for the Unlimited inclusive art project. Her credo: Success doesn’t come to you, you go to it.

Andriy Shcherbatsky | Ukraine

Andriy graduated from university with a law degree and is currently undergoing training in the 3Dmax and Photoshop graphics software. He has been active in sport his entire life and cannot imagine life without it. He organises sporting events – competitions, tournaments and sports training – in bocce ball, wheelchair rugby, novuss, sport fishing and table tennis. He also puts together camping trips for people with disabilities. For his day job, Andriy is a dispatcher for the wheelchair transport service provided by the civic organisation Harmony. Andriy comments: “I love to travel and learn new things”.

Viktoria Klyushina (Vikki) | Ukraine

Formerly a swimmer, Vikki enjoys fitness and sport. At university, she majored in Media and Communications but also hoped to find a way to express herself in theatre and the arts. She has volunteered as an interpreter for non-profit organisations like the Rotary and Lions Clubs. In 2018, she was part of the Unlimited Project performance of “A Place to…” Her credo: “Creativity has no disability”. Vikki enjoys travelling the globe and learning languages.

Mariia Bakalo | Ukraine

Mariia is an independent artist from Lviv. She has been an active participant in the sphere of contemporary dance since 2011. She has worked as an actress, dancer, choreographer, dance instructor and event and educational programme organiser. She sees dance as a means of establishing a bridge between the inner and outer self and path to self-discovery and a means of transforming the world.