About the Birth of the Dancing City or Godos in Mažeikiai: “Expectations Were High, Results Were Even Higher”

When the project Godos is discussed, the word euphoria immediately comes to mind. Stereotypically, the word project alone suggests “something boring” or “on paper”, so the phrase that the project was followed by euphoria may sound unconvincing or overly “banner-like”.

The statement that the Godos project in Mažeikiai is useful and mutually good experience, once again, is very narrow and clichéd, easily appropriate for any action within the framework of the project. It is difficult to put into words what Aura and the Mažeikiai community created in the week-long creative workshop, but we will try to.

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The accumulated four groups of participants were colourful: from the smallest ones to the experienced teachers. One of the most active participants of the project in Mažeikiai was an expert teacher, head of Mažeikiai Choreography School’s modern dance studio Niuansas Jelena Legenzovienė who shared some reflections of her own and of other participants.

When the project’s organizational activities began, the teachers in Mažeikiai felt quite sceptical. The great majority of them had participated in many seminars and attended various training events, so this time, too, they prepared for another classic case of professionals appearing in front of an “illiterate” audience.

In a flash, there was no trace of scepticism left by the time the first meeting ended. Everyone was taken over by the spirit of Godos: new techniques, as yet untried working methods, and the emerged mutual understanding and connection. We could play with words and say that the air was filled with the aura of godos.

Legenzovienė notes that the project in Mažeikiai rewarded her with a burst of positive emotions and experiences: “There was so much warmth coming from Aura! The team of dancers who worked with us created a wonderful atmosphere of support. Even in a case of failure, the teacher working with the group gave us thumbs up. When you work like this, you don’t want to give up, you gain self-confidence and keep searching until you achieve the result.”

“It’s so great that when you work beside professionals you don’t feel beneath them or unable to perform a task. We also received no remarks when one child or another appeared to be less than motivated. That child was allowed to wait in the corner until he had a natural wish to dance or create. All of us lived in the state of euphoria for a week. Not to mention the incredible work efficiency. It never ceased to amaze me how in just a few hours we managed to do so much. I’m glad that the confidence instilled in the children by the Aura dancers remained after the project. The youths are still talking about Godos and working with the same fire that was kindled by the professional dancers”.   

Legenzovienė was glad that the expectations were high and the results were even higher. A simple, yet the most accurate description of the experiences in Mažeikiai. It seems that modern dance can break all barriers and fears and bring to light (or, perhaps, spotlight) the strengths of every dancer. The deliberations during the creative dance theatre show on how to define godos and what godojimas is today were brought to life while working together with Mažeikiai community. Hearing each other out, self-education, and a week of constant ventures and experiences became a sort of leitmotif of Godos, which was transferred into and realized on the community’s stage.

Legenzovienė added that the acquired experiences are not short-lived. Inspired by the head of the project and Aura, co-author of theatre show Godos, choreographer Birutė Letukaitė, the teacher is considering the possibility of establishing an adult teachers’ dancing collective. Participation in the project had birthed some brave creative ideas for Mažeikiai residents.

If we started considering what this project gave to the world of professional dance, I’d endeavour to demonstrate it through the choreography teacher’s conclusions on the participants’ relation to the professional dance theatre show Godos: “The show was observed by the children, who probably would have had trouble understanding it if they hadn’t gained some experience of creative work with professionals. They saw their “teachers of the week”, with whom they had made close friends, on the stage. The children cheered for them as though one of their peers was dancing on the stage.”

“Personally, I was shaken by the show. We analysed it together with the children. You know, in the periphery it’s often difficult to grasp the high modern art. Pop culture reigns here, after all. However, those who participated in the Godos project were also 100 per cent involved in the world of dance. After the show, they spent a lot of time discussing and analysing it, everyone had an opinion and shared it.”

“Modern dance has indeed knocked on the door and reached the hearts and minds of the people from Mažeikiai. This project is like a dream come true for me. Let me tell you, I was delighted not just by the content but also by the form, first of all, by Aura’s ability to organize everything immaculately. We are used to handling and solving everything ourselves, while this time it was all taken care of by the project’s coordinator Eglė Marčiulaitytė. Thanks to her flawless work, we only had to participate and, of course, experience Godos of our own and of Aura. I repeat we were absolutely euphoric.”

This was already the second time Godos had knocked on the door of the periphery of Lithuania and modern dance came to the viewer not from the stage but by touching each of them personally, through creative collaboration. Undoubtedly, the awakening of the community through modern dance, while conquering the barriers of language or fears, not only revealed mutual (both of dancers and participants) undiscovered talents but also created yet another dancing city in Lithuania.

Text by Silvija Čižaitė-Rudokienė and Edita Kiznienė. Photos by Indrė Pix

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