Head of the Organising Committee
Sanna Turoma
sanna.turoma [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Coordinator
Kaarina Aitamurto
kaarina.aitamurto [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Secretary
Maarit Elo-Valente
maarit.elo-valente [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Intern
Miikka Piiroinen
miikka.piiroinen [at] helsinki.fi

Conference e-mail:
fcree-aleksconf [at] helsinki.fi

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)50-3565 802

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi


Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Elena Yushkova (Independent scholar)

Dying Swan Fights for Human Rights

In January 2014, the young Moscow performer Alexandra Portyannikova danced the famous piece by Michel Fokin "Dying Swan" with a chain on her arms in the open air, when the temperature was minus 30 Celsius. It was a performance created by Amnesty International, which aimed to attract attention of mass audience to the situation with human rights and freedom of speech and expression in Russia. Authorities allowed the street performance, but the organizers had to change the spot from the crowded square to the abandoned one. Only several journalists attended the performance, but thanks to Youtube it was spread quite widely. Alexandra lives in Moscow, works at the ZIL Cultural Center. She graduated from the Vaganova State Academy of Choreography in St. Petersburg, the department of contemporary dance. Along with her partner Darya Plokhova, she created many interesting and experimental performances in Russia and abroad, participated in many international festivals.

She is very courageous and independent, creative and always open to new ideas. That is why Alexandra became a part of Amnesty International project last winter. Although she is not a classical ballerina, her training allowed her to repeat the famous piece, created in 1907 by the young Russian choreographer Michel Fokin for the young ballerina Anna Pavlova. This image brought Pavlova a world fame and attracted many people around the globe to the classical ballet. This very fragile and feminine piece acquired new cultural and political connotations in the Amnesty International street action. Using this example (and some more recent from Russian life) the paper will analyze relationships between dance and politics in contemporary Russia in order to discover what makes dance a good means for expression of some political thoughts of the society. I would also like to show the role of dance in expressing social protest, of symbolic potential of that kind of art in fight for the human rights and freedoms.