Candoco – World’s Leading Inclusive Dance Company Returns to Tbilisi

The British Council in Georgia presented a striking double bill from the Candoco Dance Company, a contemporary group of disabled and non-disabled dancers, on 11 and 12 March at the Marjanishvili Theater.

The performances were called Unlimited and the performers fully justified the title. The core of the inclusive dances is to make people see the dance and not the disability. That disabled and non-disabled people could cooperate each of their moves so aesthetically is never more difficult to imagine- and Candoco, last here in 2013, showed us how in their sell-out shows. Their popularity was proven in Georgia and it is a clear step towards making the necessary changes to combat social stigma against the disabled.

Candoco has three main directions: performing, teaching and advocating rights of the disabled by means of bringing changes to the relevant policy. In 2012, the company performed alongside Coldplay at the Paralympic Games closing ceremony in London, and in 2015 won the UK Theater Award's 'Achievement in Dance' award.

Their inclusiveness gives a new flavor to the work, inspiring it with new movements and style. It is impossible not to be at once captivated with the exquisiteness and lightless of the dance. The dancers move as if released from the weight of their bodies in a manner almost too good to be true- the most beautiful proof that genuine art has no boundaries at all...

The Sunday Times names Candoco performances ‘a joy to watch’, while The Guardian described it as ‘one of the most potent moments of theater’. Through their performances and educational activities, Candoco twists perceptions of what dance is, who can dance and who can experience it. The performances in Tbilisi were supplemented by a practical workshop with Candoco choreographers on inclusive contemporary dance.

The company of disabled and non-disabled dancers creates excellent and profound experiences to excite, challenge and broaden perceptions of art, aesthetics and ability. First and foremost, Candoco encourages all disabled people to get involved in art, to use it as a form of self-expression, giving a sense of life, entertainment, and fun in which the student may even find a profession.

Candoco’s performances in Tbilisi mark the launch of the British Council’s new program that aims to offer disabled artists in Georgia unprecedented and unique opportunities to develop professionally, create new work and collaborate internationally.

GEORGIA TODAY talked to Zaza Purtseladze, Country Director of British Council Georgia: “This tour is not the only activity that is planned within the project. It aims to develop the professional network of disabled artists in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine. We also aim at deepening this cooperation within the aforementioned countries, as well as creating a relevant platform. The latter should enable artists with disabilities to develop professionally, as well as participate in trainings that are also planned within the project,” he said.

A workshop was also held that united disabled and non-disabled people, as well as representatives from different sectors in order to raise awareness. The parties discussed problems and challenges that are present in this direction in Georgia. Concurrent to that, inclusive sectors are being researched in the four abovementioned countries.

Stine Nilsen, Co-Director of Candoco, confirmed the progress among Georgians in this direction: “I have been cooperating with Candoco since 2000, the first seven years as a dancer and the last 10 as an artistic director. I’m really passionate about what we’re doing. I think that bringing dance out to more people is a great way to make changes happen. In terms of Georgia, there are more disabled people coming [to our shows/workshops] than there were three years ago. This is a small thing, but it’s an improvement. More disabled people are doing dance now in Georgia than 12 years ago when I first came here. It’s great!”

GEORGIA TODAY asked Nilsen if they’ll be back. “We hope that within the British Council project, we will come back again. With its support, we’ve already set up a dance company in Armenia.”

The privately-owned Armenian dance company is already training new dancers, and it is Nilsen’s desire to have the same happen in Georgia. “We want Georgians to be inspired by this unity of disabled and non-disabled dancers”.

Eka Mazmishvili, Director of the Marjanishvili Theater, host of the event for the second time, noted: “This is the part of our long-term partnership with the British Council in many different directions. In this case, our welcome is special, as this is a really distinguished dance company in terms of artistic level as well as priorities. We are happy and proud and hope to cooperate with them again in future.”

Maka Lomadze

16 March 2017 17:30