No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. 


A shot from Waiting for color concept and implementation Kosta Karakashyan

The film is Waiting for color and the director is Kosta Karakashyan. The plot is the gay purge in Chechnya in 2017, and the main topic is human rights. This screendance is a documentary reading of a frightening and ugly part of our global modern history. The reflections focus on the big questions of human freedom, on the supreme rights of human beings, and on the protection of human rights today in the 21st century. The other main topic is the role of art, and in particular, the genre of screendance, and its ability to “speak out loud” in a captivating and intelligent manner on social issues, to “remind us” of the universal laws that connect us, to “bring us together” in our differences, and to make us empathetic and genuinely concerned about the Other.

Kosta is a choreographer, dancer, director, LGBT activist, and holds a master’s degree in Human Rights and Democratization from the Global Campus for Human Rights in Venice, Italy. While studying for a bachelor’s degree in dance in New York, he began working on this screendance project with a group of fellow students, driven by his strong intuition and the need to make this shocking story ​​widely public. His hope is that it won’t be easily lost in the constant flood of information streams of frightening and depressing news, but on the contrary, it would leave a trace in people’s minds and even, perhaps, push them to action in defense of human rights. No one should be abused and humiliated. Silence is a form of complicity. The Artist brings sensitivity and charisma through which he can influence and counteract the various forms and faces of hatred, aggression and violence. It is wonderful to see examples of the Artist’s social responsibility woven into artistic gestures and public appearances.

Waiting for color is such a clear-cut artistic gesture and a shocking documentary narrative is told through dance and movement. The stark verbal reality (first-person accounts of 33 of the abused during the persecution) – in sync with the unequivocal ​​visual-corporeal “translatability” of the victims’ feelings, gestures, and emotions, and reinforced by “metallic” soundscapes – creates a coherent and extremely authentic environment. The viewer’s attention is navigated and concentrated precisely on that.

The viewer is as close as possible to the events of that moment, close to the “eye” of the violated body, to the pain during and the scars after. Kosta’s body rivets the gaze with its impactful, abrupt, paranoid, painful movements and you can’t look away, because you want to understand, because you want to hear it all the way through. And yet the audience may decide to experiment and close their eyes, because they cannot bear the sight, because it is too cruel, because it is too painful to look at. Even then, it is quite likely that the moving body will “stand up” again in their mind and thus will continue its narrative ‘’from memory’’ in the same sharp, abrupt, rapid rhythms – of spasm and frustration, which the viewer witnessed on the screen only moments before. And then, the viewers open their eyes again and look and listen. It is so genuine, so real, so alive and so close to the attacker, to the victim… The viewers are trying to understand how such aggression on a fellow being is even possible. And somewhere in the middle, suddenly, they are very likely to try another technique of formal escape – to turn off the sound of the video, which otherwise transports them so skilfully to the scene of the crime against human dignity, and to continue watching the art work. But there are subtitles and the story of the victim, though without the voices of the victims, is still present and it’s still horrific and unbearable. No – it doesn’t hurt less. So the viewers return to the audio and visuals, disarmed, stripped, alone in their terror, to see and hear, to watch till the end, to remember, to never forget.

Waiting for color is a monstrously beautiful film; it is one of those works of art that thought-provokingly lingers in the viewer’s conscience, in his/her thoughts. One ponders how free or non-free is the country they live in, how they use their freedom, how they reconcile with injustice and lack of equality between people in their own homeland, or in some other foreign land, where their colleagues, friends and family, or even complete strangers live. To all of them – someone’s sons and daughters, human beings like the viewer himself/herself.

Waiting for color does not come to us as news on the TV, as a post on social media, as a quote from an article, as a story that we accidentally hear while riding the bus. In front of us there is a screendance art work – a set of selected and correctly and accurately synchronized tools – the performer’s body, the choice of location, the managing of sound, the selection of texts from the report, the voices of the actors, the camera movements, the editing decisions. All of this is a powerful arsenal that provokes our emotions and feelings, it makes us empathetic to pain and horror, it asks us very quietly and gently:

— What can you do?

—  Because the screendance artwork knows that the wounds are healing, but the scars remain; that it will end, but the lives of its main protagonists will still be in danger, and in fact, not only of its main protagonists but also of the many missing anonymous people in Chechnya and other places.

— How can you help?

— Because the screendance art work shares with you a story that is not fiction, is not a fictional plot or some fear, but an ugly reality, truth, and destiny for a specific group of people, it is part of a specific type of autobiography, of specific lives.

— What is your role?

— Because the screendance recreates a sinister situation, but not so as to distance you from it, but to invite you to an important conversation about tolerance between people, about the intimacy of internal borders, about the differences in people’s freedoms in relation to the places they are born, and about the right to live with dignity.

— What do you have to say about what you saw and heard?

To yourself, to the circle around you, to the world.

p.s. Waiting for color already told the story.

Translated by Miryana Mezeklieva

Svetlozara Hristova is a culturologist, art manager, artistic collaborator, author of articles in the field of contemporary dance and theater, co-organizer of the Moving Body Festival and RADAR Festival Beyond Music.

Miryana Mezeklieva (1987) graduated in Cultural Studies at Sofia University Kliment Ohridski. Since 2008 until today she has been working as a translator of feature films and series for dubbing mainly for the channels of Nova Broadcasting Group. 

This material was created within the project “Translation on Air” – a section dedicated to dance for the screen or screendance. Every month we invite the professional and amateur audience, tempted by this intriguing symbiosis between cinema and dance, to join our readings, conversations, and discussions with active practitioners and choreographers in this field from the country and abroad.

The project “Translation on Air” is implemented with the financial support of the National Fund “Culture” under the program “Audiences” 2020.

 Videography and bibliography:

Short film Waiting for color

Online coversation with Kosta Karakashyan

Cafolla, Anna, Photos of the New York protest against the Chechnya gay purge, Dazed Digital, 2018

Video Unable to breath created by The Russian LGBT network /Российская ЛГБТ-сеть/

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

European Court of Human Rights

Rickter, Max, album Voices, 2020

Hristova, Svetlozara and Sotirova, Ana-Maria,About the field of screendance: the meeting of dance with cinema, Dance Magazine, no. 2, 2020