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Festival ConTempo Invites to Dive into the best European performing arts and creativity

Claudio Stellato “Work”. Claudia Pajewski

At the end of the summer, when we often look for inspirations for new work, creativity and life, the International Performing Arts Festival ConTempo invites everyone who is slowly returning to autumn Kaunas to fill their reservoirs of creativity and open the door to curiosity, laughter, surprise and unexpected experiences. The event, which will take place for the third time in Kaunas and Kaunas district on August 17-26, will invite citizens and guests to see the 10 best Lithuanian and European contemporary performing arts projects during the 10 days of the festival, including Claudio Stellato performance Work.

“The festival ConTempo, which has been organized in Kaunas and Kaunas district since 2019, very consistently reflects the fundamental value of Kaunas 2022 – the involvement of society in culture in public spaces. It is true that very high-level, professionally created performances also take place in traditional spaces, so visitors can choose places that are attractive to them and the performances of contemporary art that take place there. The festival plans to grow and expand – next year, when Kaunas and Kaunas district will be named the European Capital of Culture, ConTempo events will last much longer – throughout August. There will be no shortage of international-level stars and troupes at the events, so I invite you to follow the information and mark these engaging and enriching contemporary performances of performing arts on your calendars”, said Virginija Vitkienė, the head of Kaunas 2022.

Gintarė Masteikaitė, the head of ConTempo, says that after the pandemic is a bit confusing the planning and consistency of the festival, a very ambitious and modern program awaits the audience this year. “For the first time, ConTempo will take place for ten days and during them artistic bridges will connect not only Kaunas, Klaipeda and Vilnius, but also the whole of Europe. This year’s festival program includes well-known names throughout Europe: Italian performing arts virtuoso Claudio Stellato, world-renowned circus and dance Alexander Vantournhout, circus and movement conceptualists Rhizome and Jordi Gali, as well as works created exclusively for the festival program. Therefore, Lithuanian spectators will have a truly unique opportunity to enjoy works of art of the highest quality, of which we do not yet have examples in Lithuania”, she says.

Alexander Vantournhout “Screws”. Perplx-Bart-Grietens

The most famous works of European art stage and a fantastic story by Lithuanian creators

The most important thing in shaping this year’s program was not to select it according to the imaginary tastes of the city or region’s audience. “We believe that the festival program allows us to get acquainted with very widely developed genres of performing arts, the latest trends in Europe and around the world, artists who are currently surprising, perplexing and asking questions. We strive for the festival program to inspire not only spectators, but also the local art community and the city itself to grow, experiment, try new creative ways. We do not aim to please everyone – we seek to create discussion and dialogue through the relationship between the creator and the audience and the magical exchange of energy that takes place during performances when the greatest miracles happen. We have a lot of trust in the visitor and we are sure that those who attend the festival, as planned or not, will cope perfectly with the challenges posed to them”, says Gintarė Masteikaitė.

One such performance is the Italian performance of Claudio Stellato’s “Work”, which is included in the list of 10 recommended performances of the Avignon Festival.  Nails, some wood and paint, few tools and everyday gesture which seem to be unimportant, revisited and transformed in a fantastic construction site. Physical efforts are pushed to the limit of exhaustion which sometimes lead to an absurd result. With his third creation, Claudio Stellato goes into his research between body and matter in depth.

The new performance “Screws” by the Belgian creator Alexander Vantournhout will invite a visitor to question the relationship between body and object. The use of contemporary utensils such as ice hiking shoes; a bowling ball or bicycle helmets are a part of this artistic process. According to the set-up of in-situ, the presentation guides all spectators through the space and introduces them to the various micro-performances. “Screws” is a collection of micro-performances that occur between and around the audience. The presentation explores the different possibilities in the choreography, and searches for ways to support or to transform existing movement. 

The solo piece by the circus artist Kolja Huneck “CM_30” invites to intensely perceive a fleeting universe. Together with the audience, a synaesthetic color bath is created between contemporary circus and installation art. Poetic juggling is the painting tool in an airy room that is acoustically filled by the compositions created by Rutger Zuydervelt. With “CM_30” Kolja Huneck questions the traditional expectations towards circus and juggling and lets the boundary between audience and artist dissolve. 

Lithuanian director Artūras Areima will invite to the fantastic story. In the performance, director A. Areima will develop the idea that man should look for a deep relationship with nature, look at it not from the perspective of destruction, but from the perspective of preservation, and perceive himself as a part of it, not the owner of a defined territory. “For a Better World” is a fantastic story that invites the viewer to look at the condensed current social and psychological reality of humanity and face the possible consequences of human irresponsibility.

Rhizome, Jordi Gali and Aleksandras Špilevojus’ performance “Stepai, gazo!”

As the festival grew strongly during the year, the program was expanded by the works of Lithuanian creators, which this year ConTempo is represented by exclusively young Lithuanian directors – Artūras Areima, Aleksandras Špilevojus and the Kosmos Theater and Teatronas.

Aleksandras Špilevojus will present the piece “Stepai, gazo!”, and will tell a little-heard story about the life of Duke Stephen Bathory, based on real facts, as well as the actors’ own wisdom, fantasy and fun assumptions. Circus and movement conceptualists Rhizome and Jordi Gali will appeal to delicate, meditative performers – Jordi Gali explores the origin of motion in matter and context in “Orbes”, as in his previous works, while Rhizome reflects gravity in stagnant time.

Aleksandras Špilevojus “Stepai, gazo!”. Andrej Špilevoj

Gintarė Masteikaitė says that future and existing visitors of the festival should be ready to embark on adventures, be open to new forms, unseen creative solutions and, most importantly, to a quality and good time. “We promise that all visitors will receive a dose of good energy and creativity. We are very much looking forward to curious and open people, not necessarily big fans of the performing arts. The program is very wide, dynamic and everyone will definitely find their favorite in it. Those who have been following the festival since its inception already know that it is really very worth seeing and visiting at least some of its events”, she urges.

The whole festival program:

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