Vadim Puyandaev and Erika Tsimbrovsky have over two decades of experience in creating collaborative performance work with various media artists.
They’re originally from Kazakhstan, where they met, and they have lived in Minsk, Moscow, and Crimea. During this time, they were both pursuing their respective art forms independently, Erika – dancer and choreographer, and Vadim – visual artist working in miniature wood cuttings, large scale monumental art and murals, sculpture, and painting. In the early nineties, they started to collaborate together on live art and multimedia performance.
In 1994, they moved to Israel and started to work more seriously on multimedia art, first in improvisation sessions utilizing dance, live painting, and music. Then they started to develop this work in performance. They formed the award-winning performance group, EVM Laboratories, and worked with a variety of artists, like Peter Chaika, an outsider artist with Down Syndrome, and Slava Ganelin, the legendary pioneer of Russian avant-garde jazz movement.
There are many influences on their performance work – most notably the great impresario Sergei Diaghilev of the Ballets Russes in the early 20th century. Diaghilev brought together many great artists from different disciplines – music, choreography, visual art, like Debussy, Balanchine, Picasso, Matisse, Satie, Ravel. The infamous Rite of Spring, was a collaboration between Stravinsky, Nijinsky, and the visual artist Nicholas Roerich. The Rite of Spring was also the inspiration for Avy K ‘s 2009 work, Nocturnal Butterflies.
So collaboration and interaction between diverse art forms is very important for Vadim & Erika’s work. Part of their approach is to take the methods of one art form and use them to shape creation in a different discipline. For example, the physicality of movement, the kinetic energy when Vadim paints is important for their work. Similarly, Erika’s dance is influenced by the shape and form of the painting and her movement becomes part of the visual art.
Another important aspect is improvisation. Both Vadim and Erika practice a dance form called Contact Improvisation, where dancers explore the physical dynamics of bodies coming together and moving together in the moment, without plan, without meaning, without concern for the aesthetic qualities of the movement. Perhaps it might be more correct to say that the aesthetic qualities what is felt by the dancers rather than seen by an audience. There’s a kind of poetry in the communication and interaction between the moving bodies. This dance form has been a major influence on their work, both in terms of directly incorporating it into their performances, but also in taking some of the principles of the dance and using it to create the work.
Many of Avy K’s performances are “structured improvisations." Each performer—whether in dance, visual art, sound, music—is improvising in the moment. This requires a great deal of presence and listening to one another.
This approach to live performance is similar to one of Vadim’s approaches to painting. There’s a kind of chaos at the early stages of the process of creation from which the structure emerges. It’s the job of the artists to discover this structure rather than impose it from the outside. For a full length performance, this structure is discovered through many improvisation sessions that are part of creating the final performance.
Erika and Vadim immigrated to the USA in 2006 and their first project was The Garden in 2007, a multimedia structured improvisation performed at Noh Space in San Francisco. The garden, full of faint memories, is a place we can transcend space and time—like childhood memories that suddenly appear in dreams—and connects us to nature through highly metaphoric associations with both matter and spirit. At that performance, they met Laura Maguire, a PhD in Philosophy from Stanford University. She expressed great interest in their work and invited them to perform it at Stanford University.
After that, Erika, Vadim and Laura decided to create Avy K Productions, named after the unique audio- visual-kinetic approach to performance. Avy K Productions' first project together was Scrap-Soup (2008), which was performed at Theatre Artaud in San Francisco.