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16 november 2021 | Nieuws

For Goda Žukauskaitė dance is a conversation

At first, Goda Žukauskaitė genuinely thought the nomination was a mistake. “It was such a big surprise. I found it difficult to accept that I might be worth it. I don’t see myself as a dancer who goes for high technique. For me dance is more than an art form. It’s a tool to talk with people. Movement is about energy and dynamics, it’s a conversation.” In Goda’s view, the fact that she was nominated says a lot about the open-minded attitude of the jury. The recognition makes her feel “super grateful.”

Two Lithuanians in a row

Of course, she knows the Lithuanian dancer Lukas Karvelis, who was nominated in the Dance category in 2020. “We never danced together, but we have been sharing experiences. The Lithuanian dance field is small and people follow each other. It was big news that another Lithuanian dancer had been nominated. Two Lithuanians in a row!”
Goda characterizes the Lithuanian dance field as “small but interesting.” “But it’s growing pretty fast,” she says. “Every time I go back, I get a surprise. And it’s amazing to see how the people in this small community support each other and try to stay in touch with those who have left.” As for the latter, to whom she herself belongs: “I think we are a bit like warriors. I want to give to Lithuania what I receive here in the Netherlands. The exchange, going back and forth, gives me creative energy and a means to check my own growth and in what way I am changing.” Since there is still so much to gain on both sides, Goda does not see herself moving permanently back to Lithuania as yet.

80 live streams

Whereas many performing artists look back on 2020 as a frustrating year, things were different for Goda. “For me it was a very interesting year. It brought me so much. I was just back from a residency in India when everything closed down. Performances were cancelled and of course I was anxious at first. But I was also happy to have time and decided to use that time well and to do something interesting.” Between 15 May and 15 August 2020, she made the durational performance 78h ungrowing grass which consisted of 80 live streams, using the houseboat where she lives in Amsterdam as a stage. She streamed a performance every day except Sundays. It was an immensely creative and enriching period for her, even more so after she had begun inviting other artists to her boat. Her neighbours were initially rather surprised about what was taking place, but they soon became excited and began to bring objects Goda could use in her performances. In addition, people watching her live streams sent her their reactions. These insights and reflections were valuable and energizing. And so was sharing the initiative with other artists. “We would have dinner together and prepare the ‘stage’, think about the concept and ask ourselves why we did this. The moments before and after the actual performance became so important,” Goda says.

It was rather a setback when in July, on day 55 of the project, Goda fell from a tree. “A branch broke off while I was performing in the tree and I fell some 4 metres down.” It soon became clear that one of her vertebrae had been fractured. “After the accident I came back home, but since I was in enormous pain, my friend took me to the hospital. The doctors told me I was no longer allowed to move and had to stay because the fracture was quite dangerous and my spine was very fragile. When I heard the diagnosis my first thought was: how can I go on performing? I just couldn’t imagine having to stop. During the first weeks I had to lie down, but I kept doing live streams from my bed. I realized I could always find a way. It was a matter of listening to my body: what can I do today? I ‘ve been healing step by step and performing helped me in this process. Now that I’m fully back to dancing, I realize how much this injury has taught my body and made it even stronger.”

Back to the theatre

Goda, a member of Kalpana Raghuraman’s Hague-based company Kalpanarts, went back to the theatre in September of last year. “Even though I was still not allowed to dance, Kalpana wanted to have me on stage, so we adapted my role in the performance Hitting True North. Instead of performing as a dancer, I became more of a musician, playing with the drum and my voice. It gave me the opportunity to approach the performance from a different perspective.” Now, being fully recovered, she is touring with Kalpanarts’ 2021-2022 production In Two Minds. “I am also working on a new project with Boukje Schweigman (Schweigman&), which will be released next spring. And then there’s a duet I am creating with Annabel Reid. We formed a collective called Anna & Goda and are now working on a piece titled Goddesses* dream when they bleed.


Goda has quite recently found studio space in Het Domijn, located in Weesp, which she is sharing with six other artists. They formed a collective called Platform NEXUS and are shaping the space into an art centre for dancers, performing artists and musicians. “We’re still building the space, investing money in it,” Goda says. “It was always a dream of mine to have my own space where I could freely experiment, build installations, use various materials and invite other artists to join me or use the space to explore themselves.” In addition, living on a boat in a watery country like the Netherlands also inspires her to explore the element water and see what she can do with it. Goda’s boat became a small creative residency called VAGEBOND and she is planning to develop it further, presenting researches and performances. For Goda, ‘energy’ is a key word – she exudes it.

Main photo: Hessel Waalewijn
Text: Anna Beerens
Photo’sslideshow: Bowie Verschuuren, Donata Kukytė, Saulius Kreišmonas, Akvilė Juknevičė, Tomas Terekas