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Ukrainian 'freak' cabaret causes sensation

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Ukrainian 'freak' cabaret causes sensation

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It was one of the most keenly-awaited performances at this year’s Gogolfest: internet sensation ‘Rozy/Donbass’ by the Dakh Daughters, seven soulful performers smashing out a brilliant mix of melancholy gloom and hypnotic vocals.

They all started out in theatre and are members of the Kiev-based Contemporary Art Center ‘Dakh’. They have quite a diverse repertoire for a young band and their background in theatre provided them with the perfect training for cabaret – a happy mix of music, dance and drama. Their show was billed as “freak-cabaret”.

“Freak means weird. We’re all weird and that gives enormous freedom in theatre, music, and all forms of art,” said Dakh Daughter Anna Nikitina.

“Everything we do comes from somewhere out of space,” said another band member Solimiya Melnyk. “We sit together, everyone brings in their ideas and something emerges out of that. As for the instruments, we play double bass, cello, keyboards, drums, guitar, accordeon, violin, xylophone and the pipe organ.”

This is the sixth edition of Gogolfest, Ukraine’s contemporary art festival – a multi-disciplinary event featuring visual arts, theatre, dance, music, literature and cinema – named after Ukrainian-born Russian writer Mykola Gogol. Widely recognised as an artistic institution in Ukraine, the festival is an interactive and often unconventional creative gathering.

Its founder is the director of the Dakh Contemporary Art Centre, Vladyslav Troitsky. He helps direct the band’s performances, promotes and inspires them.

“The message of the festival is: don’t be despondent, hoping that someone will come and make your life better. This is why we named our opening performance “Neither God, Nor King, Nor Tribune”. The infrastructure here isn’t the best, it’s an undustrial zone, but maybe precisely out of this kind of trash something magical can emerge,” he told Euronews.

The Dakh Daughters have already been on tour abroad. Last year, they performed at Le Monfort Theater in Paris. This year, its director, former circus gymnast Stephane Ricordel, was at the Gogolfest with a co-production entitled ‘The Station’ – the story of a lonely former railway station master.

Ricordel told euronews he wanted to work with the Dakh theatre and the Dakh Daughters because he believes they bring something powerful to the play. The artists had less than 10 days to prepare and Ricordel said he was very pleased with the result.

“They’re really professional. It’s really powerful to see all those girls, so straight and so strong, looking at you straight in the eyes, and being so involved in the show. For me, it gives power. I just wanted to add a little bit of them in the show.

Gogolfest is on until September 22.

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