Out of step with convention

Updated: 2011-05-24 07:54

By Chen Nan (China Daily)

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 Out of step with convention

Todes is known for its unique fusion of classical ballet and break dancing. Provided to China Daily

Russia's most famous modern dance group, Todes, will delight Beijing audiences with its dynamic and innovative performances, which are celebrated for a unique fusion of classical ballet and break dancing.

Todes was founded by acclaimed Russian choreographer and producer Alla Duhova in 1986 and made its Beijing debut in 2007.

It comprises about 40 dancers, the youngest of whom is 15, while the oldest is 37. It has also performed with top stars, including Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga.

"I've always admired China," Duhova says. "It's a great country with a long history of arts and a lot of audience (members), of course."

The group will tour about 20 cities nationwide, not only to present entertaining shows but also to "encourage people to live an enthusiastic life by showing them the Todes lifestyle", Duhova says.

At the age of 19, Duhova was able as a young dancer to unite two distinctive groups - male break-dancers from St Petersburg and ballerinas from her hometown of Riga, Latvia. She mixed the two styles, and "Todes Ballet" was born.

Since the first show in 1987, the group has spread this style to every corner of the globe.

"I was always drawn to the arts," says Duhova, who had to take years off from dancing after injuring her leg.

"Maybe hurting my leg was a blessing. It gave me the necessary stimulus to start my career as a choreographer."

She enjoys watching foreign choreographers' works to learn more about the art form.

"I don't copy any ideas. I put all of them through my own sieve and come up with my own version," she says.

Duhova also stresses that devotion and love should be poured into the performance.

"Dance should doubtlessly evoke positive emotions," she says.

Out of step with convention

Duhova's Todes, which she calls "my first child", is "a well-adjusted machine" because of the smoothness and impeccability of its performances, she says.

The troupe conveys emotions to audiences through the combination of dramatic elements and technical skills in dance, and well-contrived costumes, Duhova says.

The founder describes Todes' dance as "a fusion of a lot of different kinds, which is called todesky style".

"We do not dance pure art-nouveau style, jazz, funky beat or hip-hop as most Western groups do," she says.

"We find it more interesting to absorb the latest dance fashion and make a sort of collage. For all our eclecticism, we try to bring together our dances by common messages."

Duhova says anything can inspire a new dance - music, love, a handsome man, personal feelings, reversals of fortune and even graceful animal movements.

Her famous composition, Office, which features complicated choreography and acrobatic tricks, is a tribute to her romance with a married man, while Photo pays homage to jealousy.

She has created and produced nine Todes shows to date.

China Daily


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