Identity Separated from Artist

By Aušra Kaminskaitė 2019 10 01
B&B: Greta Grinevičiūtė and Agnietė Lisičkinaitė
B&B: Greta Grinevičiūtė and Agnietė Lisičkinaitė

The duet B and B are the characters created by young dancers Greta Grinevičiūtė and Agnietė Lisičkinaitė, who, as the artists claim, are independent people sometimes occupying the personalities of the dancers as well as their social environment. Visually, B and B are two peroxide blondes wearing identical, strictly cut wigs and gray suits; they appear in two completely different performances, participate in social campaigns, lead comic excursions, and starting with this year - dance pitching sessions. If we look at the education of Grinevičiūtė and Lisičkinaitė, B and B activities should be attributed to the sphere of dance; however, the listed occupations prove that this is the duet unrestrained by ideas and professions, at the root of which lies the search for identity. Thus, unsurprisingly, this is exactly what they talk about in their first performances B&B Dialogue (Lith. B ir B dialogas) and Banana Dream.

For the dancers, B&B Dialogue is a far step away from the more ordinary dance created by Lithuanian choreographers. It is an interdisciplinary performance where theatre and media intermingle with dance. Critic Helmutas Šabasevičius emphasizes the importance of the screen in the performance claiming that, “What is happening on the screen attracts by far more attention than active movements requiring a lot of physical effort.” Initially, the performance B&B Dialogue was an experiment in the search for the form that would embrace dance in today's reality, where people communicate by phones, constantly follow live broadcasts and only after all of this they feel ready for a physical contact. The latter is hard to observe these days; it can be unpleasant or scary and not because the body communicates something wrong but due to changing daily habits that allow you to escape live contact.

The creators claim that in their performance B&B Dialogue they step onto the stage, “Not only to speak about the things relevant to any young woman, creator or pupil wishing to become an individual artist but also to reveal both to themselves and the others what prevents openness in the daily life as well as in theatre today.” Šabasevičius does not agree with the artists commenting that, “The openness /.../ is more artificial: poor vocabulary with everyday intonations, 'c'mon' and 'a bit' blended with exaggerated oration on 'dimensions;' thus, once shielding themselves with self-irony. It's not easy to understand what the artists are actually concerned with.” Younger generation critic Silvija Čižaitė-Rudokienė finds the motivation of the creators more identifiable. In her opinion, the most interesting aspect of the performance is how, “The girls illustrate and reveal socially sensitive quests of their generation. Even though hiding behind the created masks, they speak of the reality of their own generation.” Also, the critic expresses hope that a new phenomenon was born in Lithuania with this performance, “They have initiated an interesting path of artistic search that cannot be defined as a onetime premiere event.”

The second performance Banana Dream marked a new stage of the B and B duet. The creators are still interested in the topic of identity, only this time they focus more on the characteristics of Lithuanians who keep trying to find their exceptional features and most often recognise the negative ones. B and B pose the question of identity in a different way asking: who am I not? Who don't I belong to? Reflecting on such questions critic Dovilė Zavedskaitė claims that in the performance Banana Dream, “Dance is merely a pretext to laugh half-facedly at the intense search for identity.”

The critic observes the maturity of not only the creators but also that of B and B, “This time, they're much more mature and stricter than in B&B Dialogue, where they allowed themselves to fool around, be infantile and uncertain and to play games. Nobody plays on the stage of Banana Dream - it's a serious attempt to create a confusing dream-like space.” The performance indeed reminds of a dream where the gender stereotypes are presented in a somewhat Twin Peaksian way. Paradoxically, the latter are what takes shape when looking for identity, i.e. the wish to define one's family, sex, nation, group leads to the answer “we're all...”. As Zavedskaitė writes, in that performance, “People are slowed-down, the songs and dances - fragmented and disconnected. The atmosphere of the dream about a banana is constructed throughout the entire choreographic part of the performance, where, symbolically, there is a lot of sexuality, femininity, touch.” Therefore, at the end, the creators take their microphones and ask people who they are not, trying to negate everything the audience think they know.

Comicality is not exhibited in the performance Banana Dream. It does exist as the foundation of the creators' position causing no laughter; the analogy of a critical attitude towards the society. Zavedskaitė observes that the performers, “Are both able of not identifying themselves with their dance stories - they dance as if indifferent to themselves, ironize themselves and prevent any comments with a detailed and ruthless self-comment. For them, that self-laughing exhibition of bodies is a way to destroy a priori the probable identity of the dancers. And indeed, defining them only as dancers or creators of interdisciplinary art is clearly insufficient.”

The stage is no longer enough for B and B. As mentioned before, the creators have also been employing these characters participating in various public campaigns. The most popular campaign that has also attracted great attention to B and B is the Baltic Pride parade, where they first appeared in 2016 and were immediately noticed by press representatives who wrote, “Two identically dressed girls wearing white wigs tried to shroud the protest participants in love. They danced a love dance and asked the gathered if they believed in love. It turns out that those were B and B. These two girls also participated in the parade with students on September 1 and encouraged people to vote at the elections. They can be seen everywhere, where people can be 'touched' because as the girls put it, 'Art has to touch people' (and they hug a passer-by).”

Moreover, characters B and B have been expanding their activities at various international festivals held in Lithuania. In the first street theatre festival SPOT 2018, they presented a comic excursion in the spaces of the Old Town of Vilnius creating unheard stories for the objects of the capital with excerpts of dance improvisations and interactive scenes. In 2019, B and B became the hosts of the pitching session at the international festival New Baltic Dance. They turned an official event requiring quick introductions into an enjoyable, stress-reducing show enabling the guests to feel loved and appreciated (which can be really important for the local market).

B and B is still a hard-to-define, unexpected duet in the context of Lithuanian performing arts. Perhaps not only in Lithuanian context as following the mentioned pitching session, the guests from abroad expressed their interest not only in the participants but also in the characters embodied by Greta Grinevičiūtė and Agnietė Lisičkinaitė who can create a performance in any given circumstances and can turn the gathered, almost unrelated people into heroes. Interestingly enough, the dancers who don't often perform on the stage, have been creating the story of B and B - where they are not only the main characters but also moving, living, interacting works of art - with great success.