“Waiting in the Margins” project preparation workshops continue in Georgia for the duration of two weeks. On January 28th and 29th 2015 the project team (Pipsa Poukka (Sweden), Daniil Belkin (Ukraine), Alexandra Soshnicova, Sergey Golovnea ( Moldova), Nino Mitaishvili, Ana Kurtubadze and Nadia Tsulukidze (Georgia)), led by choreographer and producer Benno Voorham met in Tbilisi for a rehearsal and went over the agenda for 6 day workshops in Tserovani IDP settlement school.
Tserovani IDP settlement, 20 minutes away from Tbilisi, is the main IDP settlement built after the Georgia-Russia war in August 2008. There are over 1000 small prefab houses where the majority of IDP families from that war live today. There is a newly built school for refugee children from over 50 villages of Georgia’s breakaway region of Samachablo (South Ossetia).
Bazaleti IDP settlement is relatively small and situated nearby the town of Dusheti. The children from this settlement go to Dusheti Public School.
January 30th, Tserovani Public School.
“I’m going to be an actress when I grow up” – she says with her eyes sparkling and smiles away shyly. As though she‘s justifying her participation in these workshops…
Her name is Nino, she’s 9. She hardly remembers those August days her family fled from Ossetia. Her grandmother though vividly remembers the details: from the colour of ripening grapes in the vineyard that the soldiers destroyed, to the ashes that were left from their 2 storey house.
It wasn’t easy for Nino and her family to be placed into this settlement with no preparation or instructions whatsoever. “Communication was an exceptionally difficult problem among these students”, tells us Leila Ovashvili, Arts teacher at Tserovani Public School. “Coming from 42 different schools and ethnic minority groups, they brought different accents with them and pretty often those accents and their ethnicity were a subject of mockery. Mockery led into fights or in better cases, long term silence and ignorance to each other”.
For a stranger’s eye it was surprising how all 21 children were so shy at first but lit up and became happy to see Benno Voorham and the team, or as the children call them- “the artists”. It might have been just the unusually sunny day for January 30th that made everyone so cheerful, but it wasn’t just that. It was even more surprising how naturally flowing these students became as they closed their eyes and just started listening and feeling their bodies move. It was organic.
Many of the children told us that the non-verbal communication in the workshops helped them to communicate with other children, free from being judged by their accents.
“I sometimes start my day with practicing these moves at home, showing my mother what I have learned. Here it’s like I’m mute and yet able to talk to my friends very well.” – says Nino again, smiling. It’s not for certain how passionately 9 year old Nino and the rest of the participant kids will try to make dancing/acting their future career, but for today we’re dancing by the margins.