On March 13 I saw “Rebel Body Orchestra” (performed by Sveta Grigorjeva, Lill Volmer, Billeneeve and Florian Wahl) at Sõltumatu Tantsu Lava. Rebellion? Bodies? Orchestra? All together and all apart – fitting for a creation that asks it’s audience to think and come to their own conclusions.
Do we rebel? Who does, and why? In his essay, Robert Kitt describes modern day society with the following sentence: “What separates us from an ancient tribal society is the fact that our actions are no longer dictated by tradition(s) and taboo(s), but by our Facebook friends’ posts and fake news.”
How does one even rebel in such a world? Say we suddenly decide to hate the gays, while still actively socializing with liberals or vice versa – we aim to be tolerant, but have a wide circle of conservative friends: the endgame could be having no one to communicate with. It certainly is fascinating, yet quite ironic. In today’s world, can you rebel against anything without becoming an anarchist? A reactionary? A propagandist?
For me, Sveta Grigorjeva wholeheartedly – both in poetry and onstage – embodies a rebellious person. But in 2018, when the lion’s share don’t rebel, but rather stand up for the rights they’ve been granted, it seems the only thing that could rebel is, indeed, the body.
Characteristic of performance art, the show starts off slow. Sveta tells the public her creation doesn’t claim to be truthful. The only thing she emphasizes is that when we hear “off with their heads!”, heads must, in fact, roll. At first, we miss the point. The action is delayed.
From silence, the first legendary liberté, égalité, fraternité reformer is born. We’ve all seen that one painting – Eugéne Delacroix’ “Liberty leading the people”- and Liberty is exactly who Lill Vomer depicts. She’s the goddess of the French, the mother of modern day rebellion; someone who’s virtuosity still makes us proud of our democratic values today. Whenever we lay eyes on Delacroix’ painting or that barechested young lady, Lill Volmer, humanism lights up with glory.
Orchestra? It should give dance its rhythm and shape, kick it off with its sound and dynamic demand. And that is precisely what musical designer Alvin Raad does.
 A musical designer sets the stage in motion according to his/her own algorhythm. That is what outlines potential story arcs both onstage and in our heads. When discussing the performance, Lill Volmer and Jürgen Rooste promise to take apart the Snow White fairytale and put it back together again. That reconstruction is based on the algorhythm that is played to the four dancers.
We never know which block our performance will start with today, tomorrow, or the day after. Nevertheless, we live in a world with no tradition(s) or taboo(s), only tribes where we either belong or not. We live in a world where a story can be de- and reconstructed as one or another tribe pleases; as one or another friend group finds humorous or exciting.
In the spirit of Sveta, a friend group might also think: “Off with their heads!”
 A phrase with enough bite to take us back to the late 18th century, back to Marie Antoinette’s guillotine, which, in this case, can be symbolized by a punching bag or the German version of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”. And suddenly, in the midst of Florian Wahl wailing into the microphone, that “off with their heads!” feeling strikes and someone finally meets their end. Rebellion is frightening. Rebellion does not always lead people on, it can hurt. It can even kill.
In the end, it all depends on which block you start with. I see the roots of humanism, someone else might see a punching bag, another a Googling youth – all dependant on which tribe they belong to. Exciting all the same!
Story translated by Emili Maiste
Photo by Jekaterina Abramova