Monday, August 10, 2009

Immigrants, Decision Portrait Series

(Immigrants, Decision Portrait Series. 31" x 37", framed. Stitched words: We left Russia to pursue artistic opportunities. Ballet Dancers. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin. Hand beaded and stitched.)

It takes courage to say good-bye to friends and family, move halfway around the world, and build a new life in a foreign place. It is particularly difficult when there's a language and even an alphabet barrier. Yet, the dream of dancing brought this couple to American in 1997. They live in Columbia, South Carolina now....regularly performing on all the city's stages, guest dancing in other states, teaching frequently, staging "the classics", and having new, contemporary works created on them. Back in Russia, such opportunities had shriveled up....but weren't entirely gone. They had to make a decision....stay and dance less often or leave for the chance to pursue their art more passionately.

(Above: Detail of Immigrants. Click on image to enlarge.)

Personally, I'm glad they made the decision to immigrate to America. I've enjoyed watching them perform for several years. Both have taught my elder son, Mathias, when he was younger. When Mathias visits (which unfortunately isn't very often), he seeks out a class with these two people....a nice, traditional Russian (Vaganova) ballet class with barre and center and jumps. In the ballet studio there is no language barrier. Everything is in French. Outside the studio, however, is the "real world" where performance opportunities, contracts, and financial issues require careful choices. In the arts, nothing stays the same for very long. Opportunities shift from year to year and location to location. Decisions are constantly being made.

In 2007 one of these two dancers was able to become a citizen of the USA; the other is still here on a green card. This was a year after my son immigrated to England....for the same pursue his artistic opportunities. He's there on a work permit. No one knows what future decisions will be made to continue their lives in dance.

1 comment:

Wanda said...

Yes, this decision is made all the time although not everyone realizes it. The world is not like a boardgame where people stay in their own country. Many people integrate into their new country and then there are those that don't. I have lived in Germany for over 20 years but only this past year have I really begun to integrate. This is also a decision which goes along with the decision to immigrate at all. Very good piece. It says alot.