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Photography copyright of VOZDUKH Project

Photography copyright of VOZDUKH Project

From Russia with Love: The Power of Body Movement in Physical Theatre

By Anastasya Vorobyova

Imagine that we are all talking in the same language: citizens of the world, compassionate and connected to every human being without judgment despite our differences in cultural or political opinions. This might sound like utopia, but it is actually the work of the VOZDUKH Project, a modern Russian physical theatre company.

We, VOZDUKH Project, transform stories into art through body language so everyone can be heard and understood. Body language allows us to communicate through a different dimension that encourages a universal bond. Our performances include elements of dance improvisation and the spontaneous enactment of the audience’s stories. Stories come to life on stage in real time through physical action and musical improvisation.

Like many other countries in the world, Russia has a difficult political climate. We have laws that ban us from expressing our voices and opinions and we aren’t able to talk openly about taboo topics or disagreements. This creates many stereotypes between countries, cultures, and people.

Despite these limitations, we are passionate about creating an environment where we can talk openly, a space in which every story deserves to be told and every movement to be expressed. We invite audiences to tell stories about their experiences or opinions during performances, which opens up a rich dialogue and the exchange of ideas and knowledge. We capture the essence of the story and transform it into a piece of movement art. By transcending words and text, we shift the piece into the dimension of feelings, where vivid images and gestures create a sense of compassion and connection for everybody. We are all hiding behind our egos and facade; once we investigate beneath that surface, we can discover the magic and movement.

Our improvisations stem from techniques and training in Playback Theatre, Butoh dance, contact improvisation, non-traditional partnering, and Gaga dance. We now have our own approach to working with dance physical theatre improvisation, which includes using improvisation to explore and experiment with the state of body between the inner child and the inner animal and the ability to lose ourselves and find at the same time.

Photography copyright of VOZDUKH Project

Photography copyright of VOZDUKH Project

Last year, we had a tour called “Times of Change” across Europe and New York City. During a performance in Holland a woman said, “Oh, hell. I thought Russians were all about Putin. I was even scared to go to the performance, but now you danced a story of my friend about being gay and you got it so much. I wish I could invite you to my house now and share dinner!” Through our physical theatre art, VOZDUKH Project tries to find a common place between people and break down stereotypes and walls between us.

Every gesture and body movement is powerful and can change everything. As an artist, dancer, or performer, it’s good to remember that greatness is in the small things. An atom is one of the smallest things in the world and yet it contains enormous power and potential.

We believe in the power of body movement.


Anastasya Vorobyova studied physical theatre at Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre. She is Co-founder at Vozdukh Project of Physical Theater, an actor at International Playback Theatre Network and artistic director for Playback Theatre.