One last thing from the Dacha (though this is something that I always enjoy) – it’s so lovely to watch the expression on people’s faces as they listen to songs and stories! You can see when someone is really captivated and for that moment living in the world of the imagination. It helps me make sense of what it is to be a performer – you’re the conduit that can make this shared experience happen. It’s not to do with self or ego – in fact the more you can make that vanish the better; it’s about allowing these heightened moments of connection to take place, so that when the evening is over, we all come out thinking “Something special happened there”.
The Dacha – a secret Ukrainian summer house [existing for one weekend only] inside RichMix arts centre – is a beautiful experience. Put together with unmistakeable love and care by Dash Arts, the enchantment starts when you step into the specially-decorated lift. It’s your time-machine to a different world – you arrive to a room filled with cushions, rugs, lamps and family heirlooms, and a welcome so warm it’s like you are part of the family yourself. Sit down, be comfortable and have some tea from the samovar… (and later, perhaps, a little vodka…)
Parajanov’s incredible ‘Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors’ is on-screen when I arrive, and it flows seamlessly into the most wonderful live music, led by Polina Proutskova and IZBA Voices – captivating songs of Midsummer rituals and magic, where the seen and unseen worlds come close and with the right charm you can reach across into the realm of spirits… Then the chairs and table are pushed aside and we all join in with joyful circle dances that bring us deeper into the world of the Dacha and forge a bond between everyone in the room. Later on there’s more dancing – and tomorrow another open play reading (Bulgakov’s ‘White Guard’) – what a brilliant way of discovering a play, not just to watch it, but to be part of it.. As well as more music, film, discussion, card games, endless tea, snacks, and conversation – this is something so simple and underrated, I’m so happy Dash Arts don’t overlook it. There’s so much warmth and imagination here making the Dacha happen – do go and visit it if you can.
PS Rich Mix is also a great place to go and watch the football!! (Bad luck, Italy…)