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Classical ballet metamorphoses
The restoration of Lithuanian independence on March 11, 1990 brought new challenges for theatres and ballet artists alike. The economic blockade against Lithuania declared by Moscow in retaliation for the independence declaration disrupted the usual work flow of all theatres and led to a sharp drop in audience attendance. Nevertheless, the final decade of the 20th century was still a time of further development of classical ballet forms as well as exploration of new dance spaces and new forms of expression in order to bring ballet closer to the trends prevailing in contemporary theatre.
After Elegijus Bukaitis returned to lead the Lithuanian ballet for a brief period, no new Lithuanian ballets were undertaken. Rather, Bukaitis oversaw revisions to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and a new production of Alexander Glazunov’s Raymonda. Russian ballet masters Alexei Andreev (b. 1920) and Nina Stukolkina (1905–1999) sought to revive Marius Petipa’s choreography while simultaneously modernizing a rather antiquated pantomime and the production’s directorial structure. Sets and costumes for the production were designed by Henrikas Ciparis.
Egidijus Domeika Egidijus Domeika Egidijus Domeika (1954–1998) performed numerous principle roles in the classical repertoire (including Basilio in Don Quixote, Desiree in Sleeping Beauty, and Franz in Coppelia) and danced the part of Raupys in Vytautas Brazdylis’ production Baltaragio malūnas (Whitehorn’s Mill). Domeika took up an interest in independent choreography and began his studies at the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts (GITIS) in Moscow. He debuted as a choreographer in 1987 with a ballet broadcast on Lithuanian Television called Ispaniškoji fantazija (A Spanish Fantasy), which he later took to the Television and Choreography Festival “Telebalet 87” in Perm, Russia. A Spanish Fantasy earned awards for best ballet master and sound design, while soloist Voldemaras Chlebinskas won the award for best male performer. (1954–1998), another choreographer emerging from the ranks of the dance company, also began overseeing productions. His first independent projects, created for students at the then Vilnius School of Ballet, were distinguished by a deep knowledge of the classic ballet canon and Domeika’s ability to creatively employ the classical dance lexicon. Domeika also directed his own adaptation of Georges Bizet’s and Rodion Shchedrin’s Carmen, complimenting traditional dance elements with contemporary direction principles. Domeika’s first large-scale production, the two-act ballet Caligula, was actually a rendition of his own final dissertation project. Domeika wrote the ballet’s libretto himself, based on Suetonius’ History, and selected music from the works of Dmitri Shostakovich. The ballet had much in common with late 20th century Soviet choreography’s penchant for philosophical generalization, attempting to bring personal drama to light and portray the complex atmosphere that prevailed in Rome on the eve of the empire’s collapse. Adomas Jacovkis designed the sets for Caligula, while costumes were created by Alexandra Jacovskytė.
Some time after the premiere of Caligula, Domeika suffered a severe personal injury, losing his leg. Nevertheless, he directed the 1995 production of Eduardas Balsys’ Eglė žalčių karalienė (Eglė, Queen of the Serpents), avoiding any directorial or choreographic experimentation, instead using classical ballet esthetics as his foundation. Abstracted sets and subdued but stylized costumes were designed by Dalia Mataitienė. The production’s finale was visually imaginative: delicate strips of cloth descended to the stage, surrounding Eglė and her sons, while lighting effects helped created the illusion of the ballet’s heros transforming into trees. Eglė was Domeika’s final production—the choreographer died in 1998.
In 1993, the leadership of the Lithuanian Opera and Ballet Theatre’s dance company was taken over by Tatyana Sedunova Tatyana SedunovaTatyana Sedunova (b. 1948) graduated from the Kiev School of Choreography, dancing with the Lithuanian State Opera and Ballet Theatre from 1969 to 1976. In 1979, she graduated from the Leningrad State Institute of Theatre, Music, and Cinematography, and began working as an editor at the Music Department of Lithuanian Television. Sedunova served as Artistic Director for the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre’s dance company from 1992 to 2011.  (b. 1948), a graduate of the Kiev School of Choreography, who had once danced minor solo roles. While working with the Music Department at the state-run Lithuanian Television studios, Sedunova directed numerous broadcasts about ballet, television concerts, as well as fully staged television productions, including such noteworthy programs as Nepaprasta diena (Remarkable Day), based on the music of Benjamin Britten, Ottorino Respighi, and Gioachino Rossini (with choreography by Alexander Polubentsev), Gražioji gėlininkė (The Beautiful Flower Girl), choreographed by Egidijus Domeika, and others.
In the final decades of the 20th century, Lithuanian state television had become an important stage for Lithuanian ballet. Choreographer Jurijus Smoriginas debuted on television, and the new venue also permitted many dancers to showcase their talent by performing choreographic miniatures or selections from productions that had not been included in the Lithuanian ballet company’s repetoire.
Sedunova helped foster closer ties between the Lithuanian and Russian ballet worlds. Due to her efforts, world-renowned artists visited Vilnius and brought their productions to Lithuania. One of the first such productions was Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, directed by the renowned ballet dancer Vladimir Vasiliev together with the cellist and composer Mstislav Rostropovich (1927–2007). The production featured an original directorial choice: the orchestra was placed on stage, dividing the area into two dance spaces—one in front, over a covered orchestra pit, and the other on a riser at the back of the stage. At the ballet’s end, the composer would leave his podium, enter the stage area, and join the dead hands of Romeo and Juliet.
Some time later, Vasiliev staged another production: a classical version of Ludwig Minkus’ Don Quixote, based on choreography by Marius Petipa and Alexander Gorsky, which Vasiliev edited by including new pantomime scenes interspersed into the original sequence of episodes. Sets and costumes for the production were designed by Russian artists Rafael and Viktor Volsky.
Vasiliev’s efforts helped bring another Russian choreographer to Lithuania—Andrei Melanyin (b. 1962), invited to stage Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. The Volskys designed a vibrant space for this production, full of colors and objects, while the ballet’s choreography featured complicated elements such as acrobatics and individual episodes performed with various objects: a rocking horse, pieces of cake, a ball, fans, and stars shining in the darkness. Soon after The Nutcracker, Melanyin proposed the staging of the ballet Carnival in Venice, a free interpretation of a classic ballet of the same name, using the music of various composers and the grand pas from the original Petipa choreography. The melodramatic scene about the love between Marco, kidnapped by gypsies, and the beautiful Lucia was developed against the colorful background of the Venetian Carnival, with the addition of several other characters.
Efforts were made to vary the ballet repertoire with shorter works showcasing different styles. A three-act ballet premiered in 1997: Vakaro šokiai (Evening Dances) based on the music of Franz Schubert and choreography by Tom Schilling, was directed by Russian Ballet Master Mikhail Krapivin; Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé was directed by Jurijus Smoriginas, and Bizet and Shchedrin’s Carmen was staged by the Polish-born choreographer from Holland, Krzysztof Pastor. Several years later, Pastor presented A Midsummer Night’s Dream with music composed by Felix Mendelssohn.
A contemporary ballet style was employed to stage a narrative ballet: Spanish choreographer Lorca Massine, the son of early 20th century renowned Russian choreographer Leonid Myasin, directed Mikis Theodorakis’ Zorba the Greek. The production was first mounted in 1988, for the “Arena di Verona” festival.
The stage of the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre also welcomed the work of Chinese choreographer Xin Peng Wang. At the end of the 1999-2000 season, Wang presented a program featuring two different productions. The neoclassical, abstract ballet Contrasts was choreographed to the music of Sergei Rachmaninov, while Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring was based on combinations of contemporary dance and ballet movements. The 1990s were also an active time for performances by the middle generation of ballet soloists, graduates of the M. K. Čiurlionis Art School’s Choreography Depatment, including Loreta Bartusevičiūtė, Rūta Railaitė, Jolanta Valeikaitė, Aušra Gineitytė, Petras Skirmantas, and Raimundas Maskaliūnas. Contemporary repetoire roles were danced by Jūratė Sodytė, Vijolė Parutytė, and Vytautas Budra, and soloists from other schools also performed, including Neli Beredina, Valery Fadeyev, and Vitaly Voloshin, among others. The youngest generation of dancers began to play an increasingly active role in ballet. In 1986, the company was joined by Viltis Algutytė, Ingrida Cvietkovaitė, and Edvardas Smalakys, in 1989 by Elgė Špokaitė, and in 1991 by Kristina Kanišauskaitė, Mindaugas Baužys, and Živilė Baikštytė. Joining the company soon thereafter were Rūta Jezerskytė, Neli Beliakaitė, Aurimas Paulauskas, Nerijus Juška, and Asta Bazevičiūtė. In 1998, the Lithuanian ballet company saw the arrival of Japanese dancer Miki Hamanaka, who later became the company’s prima ballerina.
Some Lithuanian dancers took the opportunity to launch international careers. Jolanta Valeikaitė danced her final production, Raymonda, in 1992, prior to departing for Germany. Rūta Railaitė and Loreta Bartusevičiūtė left for Caracas in 1993 (returning to Lithuania one year later), and the year 2000 saw the departure of Rūta Jezerskytė to Amsterdam and Mindaugas Baužys to the United States.
Tours, visiting artists, and the development of ballet
Lithuanian ballet artists often toured foreign countries in this period. Petras Skirmantas and Jolanta Valeikaitė danced with the Ruth Page Center for the Art’s Christmas Nutcracker productions in Chicago in 1991, while in 1992, Loreta Bartusevičiūtė was invited to perform the principle role in Moscow’s Kremlin Ballet Theatre production of Ruslan and Lyudmila, directed by Andrei Petrov based on the music of Alexander Glinka. The ballet company toured Germany and Holland in 1992, showing Swan Lake and Giselle, conducted by Gintaras Rinkevičius, and with Yuliya Makhalina and Igor Zelenksy in the principle roles in Holland. Coppelia and Giselle were performed in Holland in 1993.
Several emerging international ballet stars gave guest performances in Lithuania in the 1990s: Japanese dancer Yukari Saito from the Tokyo Ballet, dancing in Giselle (November 10, 1991); Yuliya Mikhalina in Swan Lake (December, 1991); and in January, 1992, the Latvian National Opera and Ballet Company performed Adolphe Adam’s Le Corsaire, Sergei Prokofiev’s Cinderella, The Lady of the Camellias based on the music of Giuseppe Verdi, and Blue Danube to the music of Johann Strauss.
In 1994, the repetoire of visiting companies was enlivened by the parody performances of the all-male Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, followed that same year by many classical ballet concerts, including by Russian performers Ekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev, and Latvian dancer Lita Beiris (in a production of Igor Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, with the dancers of the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre).
In the spring of 1998, Vilnius hosted the State Russian Ballet Theatre from Moscow, directed by Vyacheslav Gordeev (performing Swan Lake and The Nutcracker), as well as the St. Petersburg State Ballet, under the direction of Askold Makarov (with a program featuring The Shadow Dance from Ludwig Minkus’ La Bayadere, and classical ballet excerpts from Aram Khachaturian’s Spartacus). Angelin Preljocaj’s choreographed dance production Romeo and Juliet was shown in Vilnius in April, 1999. Lithuania was also frequently visited by the Spanish dancer Igor Yebra, who performed with other Lithuanian ballet dancers, giving a concert in the summer of 2000, and taking part in productions of Don Quixote and Giselle.
Newly established festivals and foundations played a particularly significant role in the development of ballet in the 1990s. Petras Skirmantas’ “Dance” Foundation organized several concerts that included renowned ballet artists from abroad, presenting contemporary as well as neoclassical late 20th century choreography. In 1994, the foundation presented Skirmantas ir draugai (Skirmantas and Friends), as well as works by Maurice Béjart, George Balanchine, Roland Petit, and John Neumeier, including a performance by Bolshoi Theatre ballerina Ilze Liepa. That same year, a charity concert was held in support of Egidijus Domeika. 1995 saw the premiere of Veronika Smirnova’s ballet Phaedra (danced by Petras Skirmantas and Ilze Liepa), a concert in honor of International Dance Day (by Skirmantas’ Dance Foundation), as well as a charity ballet evening featuring Ekaterina Maximova, Vladimir Vasiliev, Maya Plisetskaya, and Nadezhda Gracheva, accompanied by Lithuanian ballet artists.
The predominantly classical ballet repetoire in Lithuania began to become more diversified after the launch of new festivals. In the Vilnius Festival, during the spring of 1999, Eglė Špokaitė danced in Astor Piazzolla’s Milonga a tre, choreographed by Alla Sigalova from Russia, and the annual “New Baltic Dance” festival, launched in 1996, served as a venue for contemporary and neoclassical ballet performances.
Transforming Lithuanian choreography
Anželika Cholina Anželika CholinaAnželika Cholina (b. 1970) began her studies at the State Theatre Institute in Moscow immediately after graduating from high school.

At the encouragement of her instructor, Jolanta Vymerytė, Cholina began creating short performances for the students of the Ballet School. On June 19, 1994, she hosted her first show of her own work, where she presented her final dissertation project for the Lunacharsky Theatre Institute, choreographed to Maurice Ravel’s Boléro. Her compositions on the subject of “little girls”, also shown that evening, drew considerable attention. Cholina chose the music of Meredith Monk to choreograph Keturios mažos mergaitės (Four Little Girls), and the ballet music of Mikhail Glinka’s opera Ruslan and Lyudmila for Pamišusių merginų šokiai (Crazy Girls’ Dances). The two pieces showcased Cholina’s own sense of humor and her capacity for precise, esthetic force through the use of “reversed” academic dance parts.

Richard Wagner’s opera The Flying Dutchman, premiering in the spring of 1995, brought Cholina closer to the context of her creative generation, collaborating on the production with director Oskaras Koršunovas, designer Žilvinas Kempinas, and costume designer Sandra Straukaitė. In Eskizai po septynių (Sketches After Seven), an evening of dance, Cholina worked for the first time with set designer Marijus Jacovskis, with costumes designed by Sandra Straukaitė. The show included a one-act ballet called Improvizacija (Improvization), danced to the music of Yo Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin, using clever combinations of pure plasticity and theatrical directorial choices.

At the Lithuanian Music Academy in 1998, Cholina brought together more than twenty dancers eager to study contemporary dance. Some of the graduates of this course later contributed to the small number of Lithuanian dance choreographers. 
 (b. 1970), a graduate of the Vilnius School of Ballet, began her choreographic career in the 1990s. Her first large-scale production, Medėja (Medea), premiered in 1996, with music by composer Antanas Rekašius, at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre. From a visual perspective, this two-act production helped rejuvenate the Lithuanian ballet repetoire, with set design by Marijus Jacovksis, costumes by Juozas Statkevičius, and visual projections by Gintaras Šeputis. With this staging, Cholina emerged as an ingenious director who approached dance as a free-standing element of theatrical substance.
That same year, Cholina began to craft choreography for dramatic theatre productions, initially for Cezaris Graužinis’ Meilės misterijos (Love’s Mysteries), based on Roger Vitrac’s play, at the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre. Her work with stage actors encouraged Cholina to take on new projects, in which she distanced herself from classical or contemporary ballet styles in favor of creating directorial dance productions. At the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre in 1998, Cholina staged Moterų dainos (Songs of Women), based on the music of Marlene Dietrich, featuring both stage actors and dancers. There was no strict narrative to the production—Cholina sought to highlight the eternal beauty of women through dance duets and monologues performed in an empty restaurant on a mid-20th century pier. The production was created together with set designer Jacovskis and costume designer Statkevičius.
Cholina also used a mixed dance company for another production, Bizet-Shchedrin’s Carmen, with set designs by Jūratė Paulėkaitė, who created a gated wall and wired barriers to serve as reserved yet powerful visual metaphors for a prison-like factory that encompassed battered souls and pent-up emotions.
In the spring of 1999, another joint project by several young artists—director Oskaras Koršunovas, choreographer Anželika Cholina, and designers Gintaras Makarevičius and Jūratė Paulėkaitė—brought to life Bernard-Marie Koltès’ unfinished play Coco for one evening at the opening of the “In Vogue” International Fashion Festival at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre. That same year, Cholina’s Pamišusių merginų šokiai (Crazy Girls’ Dances) was staged at the Oskaras Koršunovas Theatre, featuring Jurgita Dronina, then only a student at the M. K. Čiurlionis School of Art’s Ballet Department.
On August 25–26, 2000, a program featuring Lithuanian art was held at the Millenium Dome in Greenwich, London. In one of the more dynamic zones under the Dome, on the Our Town Stage, on which different countries presented their art and culture each week, Cholina premiered her contemporary dance production Tango in Fa, to the music of Astor Piazzolla. Cholina later produced a larger scale show based on the London project that opened on January 30, 2001 at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre, launching a new chapter in the history of Anželika Cholina’s dance theatre.
Ballet in Kaunas and Klaipėda
The 1990s also saw considerable development of ballet in cities beyond the Lithuanian capital. After the Opera and Ballet Theatre was moved from Kaunas to Vilnius in 1948, the State Theatre in Kaunas became home to the Kaunas Musical Theatre, which included a small ballet company directed by Vaclovas Germanavičius (1907–1970), who staged several one-act ballets. The KMT later hosted Russian choreographers Tamara Obraztsova and Yuri Yastrebov, whose most memorable production was Boris Asafyev’s The Fountain of Bakhchisaray, with sets and costumes by Dalia Mataitienė. Leningrad Conservatory graduate Alfred Kondratovich (b. 1944) also worked at the Kaunas Ballet Theatre, where he directed a production to the music of Joseph Haydn’s Farewell Symphony in 1970, noteworthy for its innovative choreographic pursuits, and, somewhat later, Peter Ludwig Hertel’s La fille mal gardée and three one-act ballets: Julius Juzeliūnas’ Afrikietiški eskizai (African Sketches); Akimirkos (Moments), to the music of Sergei Prokofiev; and Sarkazmai (Sarcasms), set to the music of Estonian composer Jaan Rääts (b. 1932); and later still, Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt.
In 1976, the ballet company came under the direction of Irena Ribačiauskaitė (b. 1945), a graduate of the M. K. Čiurlionis School of Art’s Choreography Department and the Lunacharsky Theatre Institute. Ribačiauskaitė oversaw Aušrinė (Morning Star), a slightly modified version of Pakalnis’ ballet Sužadėtinė (Fiancée), as well as George Gershwin’s American in Paris, Alexander Glazunov’s Lady’s Maid, and ballets for children: Yuri Ter-Osipov’s Malish i Karlson, Igor Morozov’s Dr. Aybolit, Karen Khachaturian’s Chipolino, Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, and Sergei Prokofiev’s Cinderella, all featuring a classical ballet esthetic. Dancing in these and other production of this period were Laima Žiupkaitė, Vidmantas Baltrušaitis, Ina Radionova, Saulius Lazauskas, Dainius Bervingis, Gintaras Visockis, Rasa Drazdauskaitė, Ieva Dabašinskaitė, and others. Ribačiauskaitė also opened a ballet studio that operated as part of the Kaunas Musical Theatre.
Jurijus Smoriginas choreographed several productions in Kaunas, showcasing his characteristic style of combining classic and modern dance elements and emphasizing an improvisational and emotional core: Ispaniškos vedybos (Spanish Wedding) to the music of Ludwig Minkus, Émile Waldteufel and Manuel de Falla, and a one-act ballet Šokių salė (Dance Hall) based on the music of Piazzolla.
A musical theatre was established in Klaipėda in early 1987, in the former Fishermen’s Cultural Hall. The theatre’s first season opened in the spring of 1988, and soon thereafter, alongside operas, operettas and musicals, the stage also began to host one-act ballet productions and special dance concert programs. Elegijus Bukaitis continued his choreographic work here, presenting Jonas Navakauskas’ ballet Baltasis vilkas (White Wolf), Dmitri Shostakovich’s The Lady and the Hooligan, and Manuel de Falla’s El amor brujo. In an effort to fortify the technical skills of a young and small ballet company, Bukaitis organized choreographic composition concerts. Taking the reigns as Artistic Director for the Klaipėda Musical Theatre from 1992 to 1995, Ballet Master Laisvė Marija Dautartaitė (b. 1943) staged an evening of choreographic miniatures titled Akimirkos (Moments), the children’s ballet Dr. Aybolit, and at her initiative Jurijus Smoriginas began collaborating with the ballet company’s dancers, helping to create The Blue Danube (music by Johann Strauss) and a vocal and choreographic production titled Carmina Burana, based on the choral work of the same name by Carl Orff. Several years later, Smoriginas took interest in the complex works of Hector Berlioz, whose compositions had never before been staged in Lithuania. A ballet titled Artisto gyvenimas (An Artist’s Life), choreographed to Berlioz’s Fantastic Symphony, was a plastic production analyzing the inner dramas suffered by an artist, with principle roles danced by Vilnius artists Mindaugas Baužys and Eglė Špokaitė, later also by Živilė Baikštytė. For his adaption of Berlioz’s symphonic poem Romeo and Juliet, Smoriginas invited Latvian National Opera soloists Viktoria Izotova and Marianas Butkevičius, with other principle roles performed by artists of the Klaipėda Musical Theatre: Beata Molytė, Ričardas Jankevičius, Šviesa Joha, and Eglė Sinevičiūtė.
In 1996, Vaclovas Sasnauskas (b. 1943), a graduate of the M. K. Čiurlionis School of Art’s Choreography Department and a former student of dance instruction at the Academy of Choreography in Moscow, took over as the Klaipėda Musical Theatre’s movement instructor and ballet company répétiteur. In 1998, Sasnauskas became the director of the theatre’s ballet company.
Changes on the contemporary dance stage
Significant changes also took place in Lithuanian modern dance in the final decade of the 20th century: Birutė Letukaitė's Kaunas-based contemporary dance company, Aura, was given professional status in 1995, and the Lithuanian Dance Information Centre  The Lithuanian Dance Information CentreThe Lithuanian Dance Information Centre (LDIC) was a public organisation founded in Vilnius in 1995 by four private individuals: the former ballet dancer and "Lietuvos rytas" cultural journalist Audronis Imbrasas, ballet critic and educator Aliodija Ruzgaitė, art historian Helmutas Šabasevičius, and musicologist Audronė Žiūraitytė.

Imbrasis was chosen to be the Centre's first director. The LDIC's principal mission was to collect information about the art of professional dance and dissimenate it in Lithuania and abroad. Artists in other fields already had their own organizations, with roots in the Soviet period (and some dating back to pre-war independent Lithuania), such as the Artists', Composers', Writers', and Theatre Unions, but there was no independent association for dancers, since ballet performers were members of the Theatre Union. The LDIC was the first organization in Lithuania to concern itself with contemporary dance artists, and for a time even produced their work, helping to promote the establishment of dance associations.
(LDIC) was established in Vilnius, subsequently spearheading the first "Lithuanian New Dance Project", from 1995 to 1996. The LDIC took another important step in 1997, launching the annual international "New Baltic Dance" festival of contemporary dance every spring, one of the largest such festivals in the Baltic countries. A new platform had emerged for Lithuanian contemporary dance choreographers to mount new dance projects. In 1997, the Lithuanian New Dance Project became an integral part of the New Baltic Dance program, though the festival format was gradually done away with. The LDIC continued to organize "Contemporary Dance Evenings" until 1999, showcasing the works of Lithuanian and foreign (mostly Baltic) choreographers, but as funds and human resources dwindled, this activity was also discontinued. The Lithuanian Dance Information Centre succeeded, however, in becoming the principal organizer of Lithuanian contemporary dance artists. 
Changes also took place in the training of professional dancers. For many years, it had only been possible to obtain a professional ballet artist's qualification in Lithuania, with dance training at the M. K. Čiurlionis School of Arts Ballet Department. Imbrasas and the Lithuanian Music and Theatre Administration deliberated for several years over the training of professional contemporary dancers, finally resulting in the first class of actor-dancers commencing studies at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre in 1998, under the direction of choreographer Anželika Cholina, a 1996 graduate of GITIS, the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts, in Moscow.
Due to the complex system of designing and approving new study programs in Lithuania, the Academy used its own Acting Studies Program, supplementing it with classical and contemporary dance technique training. Choreographer Aira Naginevičiūtė was also invited as a lecturer, assembling her first class of contemporary dance students in the fall of 2000.
The Bachelor and Master of Arts students graduating from the Lithuanian Music and Theatre Academy's Acting (Dance) Studio Program were meant to reinforce the ranks of professional contemporary dance choreographers and performers. However, due to inadequate funding and the lack of performance spaces the number of contemporary dance companies and productions remained fairly low. The contemporary dance field continued to be dominated by Aura, the only existing municipal dance theatre, but commercial dance theatres under Cholina and her former student Gytis Ivanauskas also played increasingly visible roles. In later years, ballet dancers from the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre who had not yet found their place in contemporary dance, also took part in classes led by Cholina. Graduates of initial classes under Cholina (from 1998 to 2002) and Naginevičiūtė became better known as choreographers.
Once training of contemporary dance performers and choreographers had begun at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, similar courses were also offered by the Vilnius College, the Lithuanian Academy of Physical Education, and Klaipėda University, and dance education courses were held at the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences. A new concept of a highly trained contemporary dance professional took shape in Lithuania, soon reflected in a superior level of dance performance quality. The ranks of professional dance artists were supplemented by choreographers graduating from dance schools abroad, including Andrius Katinas, Raimonda Gudavičiūtė, Agnija Šeiko, Loreta Juodkaitė, and Lina Puodžiukaitė. They were still accompanied, however, by younger dancers studying amateur classes given by dancer instructors and choreographers.
"Menų spaustuvė", the Arts Printing House, open its doors in 2002, with Imbrasas as director. There, dancers could inexpensively rent stage space and halls for rehearsals and performances. The new organization thus became another facilitator of creative work, since state theatre stage rental rates were too expensive and rehearsal halls suitable for dance were particularly hard to find in Vilnius.
The LDIC also opened a small dance literature library and video collection, later transferred to the information archives of Menų spaustuvė.
Thanks to the programs and managerial activities of Menų spaustuvė, Lithuanian contemporary dance became considerably more diverse, providing a venue to shape and refine aesthetic programs of contemporary dance artists such as Aira Naginevičiūtė, Loreta Juodkaitė, Rūta Butkus, Vytis Jankauskas, Agnija Šeiko, Edita Stundytė, Andrius Katinas, Airida Gudaitė, and Laurynas Žakevičius, among other choreographers and dancers.
Children's dance theatre programs were taken up by choreographer Birutė Banevičiūtė (b. 1967), who debuted her work with the production Benamiai (Homeless), which became the most outstanding staging of the first Lithuanian New Dance Project. Inspired by the Salto! project in Malmö, Sweden, Banevičiūtė founded the Dansema DansemaDansema is a contemporary dance company founded in 2007 to stage productions for children.

Dansema's first production was O kas čia? (And What Is This?), choreographed in 2007 by Sigita Mikalauskaitė and Indrė Pačėsaitė for children aged 3 to 9 years. Dansema's repertoire expanded in later years: Bala žino (Who Knows?) in 2009; Pasaulio sutvėrimas (The Creation of the World, 2010), choreographed by Banevičiūtė; Bebaimis (Fearless), a show for teenagers, choreographed by Giedrė Subotinaitė; Kampavoris (House Spider), choreographed in 2012 by Mikalauskaitė and Pačėsaitė, and Mozaika, a production choreographed by Banevičiūtė for children under 3 years old. Banevičiūtė considers children the most serious of audiences. She doesn't approach them with childish gibberish, but rather tries to enter the world of a given group of children, helping them to know themselves and their environment, encouraging them to see new things and to discover names for them.

Dansema's productions traditionally end in interactive sessions with audiences: conversations with adult viewers, short dance lessons for children, or simply giving audiences a chance to "touch the theatre" – its costumes, decorations, and props. The company embraces both the artistic and educational elements of its work.
company in 2007, whose repertoire included professional contemporary dance performances for children. Until then, performances for children had been organized by drama theatre directors and as productions staged at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre, but all other dance genres were still at an amateur level, with children dancing for children. In the 2008, the Dansema dance theatre organized the first Dansema international professional contemporary dance festival for children.


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Sources and links

Petras Skirmantas
Neprarastas laikas: laiškai
Vilnius: „Krantų“ redakcija, 2014
Helmutas Šabasevičius
Lietuvių teatro istorija. Kn. 4: 1980–1990, sudarytoja Irena Aleksaitė, Vilnius: Kultūros, filosofijos ir meno institutas, 2009
Audronė Žiūraitytė
Ne vien apie baletą
Vilnius: „Krantų“ redakcija; Lietuvos muzikos ir teatro akademija, 2009
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