In 2016, within the framework of the Year of Culture in Belarus, the Ministry of Culture of Belarus held Genius Startup, a competition for projects and initiatives by young creatives aged between 18 and 31. Who won and why? Which projects were noted by the Ministry of Culture of Belarus?
The people behind of the winning projects Portraits: A History of Belarusian Music in Faces and Belarusian Ballet Week: A Modern Movement talk about them.
Vyacheslav Petko, a young Belarusian composer and member of the Belarusian Union of Composers, teacher at the Republican Gymnasium-College of the Belarusian State Academy of Music suggested, in unison with the team of the Gymnasium-College, a television series called Portraits: A History of Belarusian Music in Faces, for the state TV channel.
Sergey Mikel, another winner of the competition, put forward Belarusian Ballet Week: A Modern Movement. Sergey graduated from the choreography department of the Vocal and Choral Faculty of the Belarusian State Academy of Music. He is a winner of the Grand Prix of the Presidential Fund of Belarus for the support of talented youth.
Their projects Portraits: The History of Belarusian Music in Faces and Belarusian Ballet Week: A Modern Movement won Genius Startup, a competition for projects and initiatives by young creatives held by the Ministry of Culture of Belarus.
What is special about these projects? What are young Belarusian creative professionals planning and offering?
According to Vyacheslav Petko, people today focus their attention on what is presented well. “Whereas what is really important drowns in an ocean of information,” says Vyacheslav. “We, the representatives of academic music culture, have to make a choice in this situation. Either we come to terms, or we take up the challenge of the times so that people are able to make a choice in our favour.” The TV series of the project Portraits: The History of Belarusian Music in Faces will be devoted to the most brilliant people from the contemporary Belarusian composing school, such as Dmitry Smilsky, Sergey Cortez, Viktor Voytik, Halina Harelava, among others.
“Belarusian Ballet Week, there has not been such a series of events over the space of one week dedicated to dance and ballet before,” says Sergey Mikel. The aim of the young choreographer is to expand the audience of Belarusian ballet. “After all, there is more out there than academic and folk dance. There’s contemporary choreography, experimental,” says Sergey Mikel. “I would like to introduce to ballet spectators who are not involved in this form of art, in addition to creating a laboratory for professionals, those who see, understand, appreciate and would like to move further.”
Format and Audience
Portraits: The History of Belarusian Music in Faces is a new television series for children and teenagers that may soon appear on one of the state TV channels. “We are relying on the audience of the Belarus-3 TV channel and suggest using a synthesis of music, painting, literature, choreography and historical information. Plus, live performances,” composer and teacher Vyacheslav Petko says talking about his project. “If teenagers were to see more peers on TV and on the Internet, there would be much more interest in this form of art.” The students of Vyacheslav Petko studying at the Republican Gymnasium-College at the Belarusian Academy of Music are ready to appear and record on TV. “Concert life is a normal thing for our students. Taking part in recording a series will be another interesting experience for them,” says Petko.
Each of the winners of Genius Startup sees his project differently. However, both winners use the same approach: the synthesis of various forms of art, a trendy thing nowadays. “For example, the photography exhibition Symbol is an ornament, a striking original symbol, built from the bodies of dances. The photos show a very harmonious story,” says Sergey Mikel, sharing an idea for a photography exhibition. The photo exhibition is only part of the overall idea. In fact, the Belarusian Ballet Week project put forward by S. Mikel is a cycle of thematic creative evenings for the general public using various approaches to interest the audience in dance. The inaugural Belarusian Ballet Week is planned for spring 2018.
Platform and Team
It is important when starting a new project to say “we” and not “I”, to feel the team and not be alone in your plans. Both men can say that they have their colleagues and friends by their side.
First of all, Sergey Mikel and Vyacheslav Petko received the support of their colleagues at their educational institutions, the Belarusian State Academy of Music and the Republican Gymnasium-College of the Belarusian Academy of Music. Now the authors of the projects hope to obtain the support of partners: state television and Minsk’s theatre platforms.
“The concert hall of the Academy of Music, the Opera and Ballet Theatre, the Musical Theatre. It is impossible to imagine the Belarusian Ballet Week without these spaces,” says Sergey Mikel.
The choreographer S. Mikel sees a problem in his creative community. His project is an attempt to respond and put forward a solution. What kind of a problem is it? According to Sergey, Belarusian ballet today lacks urgency, relevancy, and parochialism often prevails within the profession. “I am certain that this was not the case before,” says the young choreographer. “But the problem arises in many things: in the choice of themes for performances, in the choice of new choreography, in the format of the event. Young choreographers tend to become pessimistic. There is also a lame approach to a topical theme, and suffering for no reason, etc. A professional is obliged to be relevant and topical. But not everyone sets such goals for themselves today. Sometime it’s dance for the sake of dance, and nothing more.”
“The main goal of our project is to raise awareness. This is important for me, since this is an issue of my future spectator – will I have him or not,” says Vyacheslav Petko. “The second goal is advertising our educational institution, the Republican Gymnasium-College at the Belarusian State Academy of Music.”
It is worth noting that the Gymnasium-College is currently one of the oldest institutions of children’s professional music education in the country. Its graduates are, without exaggeration, the country’s most brilliant and outstanding musicians.
The young professionals are certain that their creative futures will be topical, rich in new ideas and their implementation, while the proposed projects will come to life and become part of Belarus’s cultural field.