The ensemble “Lietuva” and “Revival Orchestra” present the premiere of the dance and music performance “Dance symphony from Jerusalem of the North”. The performance is specially created to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the liquidation of the Vilnius Ghetto. The event will take place on 23-24 of September at the State Youth Theatre, the former location of the Vilnius Ghetto. The new project is based on the widely acclaimed work “Symphony from Jerusalem of the North” by Jievaras Jasinskis. The work of the young generation composer has inspired a new, larger-scale creative idea, which will be fulfilled by director and choreographer Aušra Krasauskaitė with a compelling movement narrative accompanied by the live music of several orchestras.
“Almost a year ago, I heard “Symphony from Jerusalem of the North” by Jievaras Jasinskis at St Catherine’s Church. At that time, I was overwhelmed by strong emotions – tears rolled down my cheeks as I listened to the Israeli anthem. Being among the audience I experienced a catharsis, and those feelings led me to the thought about creating a dance performance. I pondered how wonderful it would be to create a dance to this music. Then the unexpected suggestion of Edita, the director of the ensemble “Lietuva”, to create a performance based on this music was like my heart’s desire, heard by God Himself, recalls A. Krasauskaitė, the chief ballet mistress of the ensemble “Lietuva”.
The first presentation of Jasinskis’s concert took place on 23 September 2021, the day of the Genocide of the Lithuanian Jews, and became an important artistic highlight of the 80th anniversary of the Holocaust. Exactly two years later, the project will take on an even more powerful form with dance movement and a new arrangement of the work, complemented by a richer sound of national instruments.
“I’ve never had someone hear my music and decide to stage a dance performance. It’s a completely new experience, as is the project’s tour in Israel, where my work was heard abroad for the first time ever. Personally, this is the first time that a programmatic and stage work has been so publicly noticed. I’m curious to see what the final result will look like in the autumn, but knowing that the team has a huge amount of experience makes me feel more at ease. And we have already tried the orchestra of the ensemble “Lietuva” in concert format in May. During the performance we will see how all the existing versions of the music work, how the dancing and the characters dictate, and maybe we will have to do some additional work. I think the outcome will be very colourful for both the eye and the ear. I’m happy, excited, and looking forward to it”, – shares the composer J. Jasinskis.
The premiere will reveal experiences of the protagonists of the performance, reflect important historical events in the scenes of mass battles, which the dances will bring to life, and remind the audience of the common experience of Jews and Lithuania.
“In my vision as a director, the emotional background will be further enhanced by dance movements, body plasticity and other immersive choreographic elements. I am looking forward to the creative process with endless excitement, and it has already begun – my trip to Jerusalem in May brought intense feelings, insights, and astonishments – and I will put all these experiences into a performance that I am passionate about”, – says A. Krasauskaitė.
“Dance Symphony from Jerusalem of the North” is a joint project of the state ensemble “Lietuva” and the public institution “Revival Orchestra”, whose previous version was produced and scripted by Tadas Daujotas. The new performance will feature dancers from “Lietuva”, two live orchestras – the Vilnius City Municipality’s St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra as well as the ensemble “Lietuva”, which will bring an authentic sound to the musical journey, and will be joined by jazz and classical music guest musicians.
Classical music will be interwoven with exotic Middle Eastern melodies, klezmer motifs and jazz elements. This is a contemporary project with world music genre and archaic overtones, featuring the majestic sound of ancient Hebrew shofar horns, while the orchestra’s sound is subtly blended with the sounds of the Kanban (kanklės) and reed pipe (birbynė). Not only the live sound, but also the dance, the costumes and the unconventional multi-storey set design will reveal the relevance of the present for today.
The story of the dance, which began 4,000 years ago, continues to this day. Interesting enough that in 2023, as we celebrate the 700th anniversary of Vilnius, we remember the Letters of Gediminas – the official invitation that opened wide the way for Jews to enter our country, where for centuries they have been building a well-being, and where their history has been closely intertwined with the historical experience of our nation. In fact, as North Jerusalem celebrates its special jubilee, we will commemorate the painful anniversary of the liquidation of the Vilnius Ghetto.
In the Vilnius ghetto, spiritual resistance and a vibrant cultural life helped to survive, to unite and to keep hope alive, which seems almost unbelievable in such a context. In the face of suffering and death, the ghetto’s inhabitants tried to cling to life and to express themselves: there was a theatre, professional choirs, a symphony orchestra and a jazz orchestra, exhibitions, concerts and competitions. Through theatre, culture, art and education, people kept themselves from self-destruction – even in the most tragic moments, they strengthened their sense of community, they did not forget the humanistic values of their people and their nation, they tried to stay positive believing that one day they would be free. The ghetto was liquidated on 23-24 of September 1943, so the dance performance is scheduled to premiere in Vilnius on the same dates at the State Youth Theatre, located in the territory of the former ghetto.
J. Jasinskis is not only the composer of this play but also the leader of the “Vilnius Jjazz Ensemble”, the orchestra representing the capital, and the trombonist, and co-composer of the film concert “Vilnius Poker”. The director and choreographer A. Krasauskaitė is a laureate of the Golden Stage Cross and the Thanksgiving Mask and has staged more than eight dance performances in various Lithuanian theatres. The set designer is Gintaras Makarevičius, a multiple Golden Stage Cross winner. Costume designer – Julija Skuratova, lighting designer – Darius Malinauskas.
The programme will be presented to the Jewish community on the 23rd of September while to the public on the 24th. After the premiere in Vilnius, the “Dance Symphony from Jerusalem of the North” will continue to be shown on the 27th of September and 7th of October at the National Kaunas Drama Theatre and Palanga Concert Hall respectively.
The State Ensemble “Lietuva” continues its long-term campaign “Let’s Grow the Muscle of Unity”, which is aimed at uniting people of different nations and religions, who historically have been creating the common history of Lithuania. This campaign reminds us that the heart is the main muscle in the human body, and unity helps to unite these hearts – to unite through the living and common history of all of us.
The project is partially funded by the Chancellery of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Council for Culture, Vilnius City Municipality, “Go Vilnius”, the Department of National Minorities under the Government of the Republic of Lithuania and German Embassy Vilnius, and informational partner LRT. The event is part of the 700th anniversary of Vilnius 700vilnius.lt programme.
Composer: Jievaras Jasinskis
Director and choreographer: Aušra Krasauskaitė
Set designer: Gintaras Makarevičius
Musical director: Ramūnas Marcinkus
Costume designer: Julija Skuratova
Lighting designer: Darius Malinauskas
Head of the public institution “Revival Orchestra”: Tadas Daujotas
Head of the state ensemble “Lietuva“: Edita Katauskienė
State ensemble “Lietuva“ orchestra and dancers (head conductor Egidijus Kaveckas)
Vilnius City Municipality St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra (Artistic director and head conductor Modestas Barkauskas)
Guest classical, jazz, and folk musicians