The maxim, “Planning & preparation prevents particularly poor performance” my brain reminded me, leaving very little time to set up a project. Thankfully, Veronique had anticipated such a moment & had a few recommendations, one of which, I quickly chose.
Nadejda L. Loujine, a Russian born dancer, though very much a Parisienne, kindly gave me access to her life for almost two days, traveling on bus, metro and train, we criss-crossed Paris from the early hours ‘til late into the evening, she teaching classical dance to both groups and individuals, me trailing in her wake with camera in hand. She could not have been more accommodating especially since I know almost nothing about dance, let alone classical dance.
Having danced & latterly choreographed, directed and advised on a range of productions and having taught dancers whilst based in various cities, from New York to Geneva, Sydney to London, Nadejda is very particular about both the dance environment and her students, correcting their often less-than French-classical techniques. During our time together, one professional dancer, an ex-student from her time in New York, appeared on her doorstep, staying one night on route from the U.S, via auditions in Moscow, Berlin & Leipzig, classical dance, it appears, is global.
Our limited time together was soon up, Nadejda having to catch a tea-time train to Poitier, once more judging another seven hundred plus dancers over that weekend, something she finds exhausting, which in turn meant our second day was somewhat truncated, giving her time to prepare herself for the weekend’s task ahead.
The resultant images, give, I hope some insight into Nadejda’s world.
Mongolian Orphanages. A minor success story. Orphanages: images of Romanian children chained, to their beds, covered in their own waste comes to mind. In Mongolia, the image however is of hordes of seemingly unwanted children, wandering the street of Ulan Bator, seeking shelter in the sewers and extensive network of underground tunnels which house the large hot water pipes that keep the capital city habitable.
Mongolia’s president has adopted over twenty orphans to date, and since the demise of the Soviet Union, Mongolia has had to stand on its own, though in the 21st century, there has been been a mining boom countrywide, yet most people has yet to see up close, this economic good fortune.
One success story however during this land and money-grabbing recent period is the marked decline in the number of children populating, both above & below,Ulan Bator’s streets. My interest has been, to date, documenting their fortunes, how conditions, both in state and privately funded orphanages have changed for the better, giving real hope that the children are not, in fact forgotten, that they will receive an education, that the state has not abandoned them, that they do have a future in Mongolia, that the social stigma and life of being an orphan is not once what it was, a thoroughly miserable prospect, one of abuse, of neglect and likely decline in alcoholism & vagrancy and life outside of the law and likely, an early death.
There really is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel for Mongolia’s orphans. Tim Fisher.