Mid-Study Presentation – Elina Akselrud

The TIME, SPACE, and GESTURE in a Crossdisciplinary Context

One of the major factors in any performance genre is the use of time.  Artists have a particular temporal perception when working alone or with collaborators within their own medium.  However, the sense of the time as an artistic device might alter significantly, when the art genres are crossdisciplinarily blended and artists from various media work simultaneously on the same material in an experimental setting.  The focus of this presentation is the non-verbal artistic communication that occurs between two performers during art making and how can the actions of one duo partner from a certain artistic discipline influence the decisions of the other one in another discipline, respectively.

I will present a case study of character miniatures for solo piano written by Alexander Scriabin during the middle and late periods of his life and legacy, intertwined with contemporary dance improvisation, and discuss possibilities brought by the In-Betweenness, the layers of the communication that are frequently transient, barely definable, and oftentimes imperceptible, unless paid a special attention to.  Particularly these are the sense of the flow, movement, and structure of the work; the role of the  space, i.e. the physical distance between performers and its relation to the use of the time; the density of the content (i.e. musical material) in a crossdisciplinary context; and the gestural communication between the artists that evolved from being a spontaneous reaction to each other’s temporal decisions into a means of intersubjective contact that to a large extent defined the interpersonal interpretation of the given works.

Each of these miniatures represents a transient character that is very unique and poignant.  With the help of a crossdisciplinary exchange and due to the sharpening of the human senses in such setting, artistic intake can be manifested in ways that create a profound impact for both, the audience as well as for the performers themselves.  Allowing for openness creates an opportunity for the aesthetic of chance; acknowledging this aesthetic and giving it space lets the work thrive and transform itself, due to the freedom the performer has, even in the context of working with a classical solo piece, while in an expanded crossover setting.  This approach leads to limitless possibilities of creating a crossdisciplinary dialogue, namely a true synthesis of the arts, which was the biggest, life-long aspiration of Alexander Scriabin, who nobly envisioned the transformation and regeneration of the entire humanity via blending multiple art forms.

To illustrate my arguments I will present excerpts from my case study documentary “Vers le Mystère” (“Towards the Mystery”), featuring the collaboration between piano and dance, a discussion of the project concept, the development of the intersubjective communication between the artists, the process of creative experimentation itself, and the research outputs of the case study sessions.

Internal Supervisors and External Advisors: Markus Schirmer (KUG), Deniz Peters (KUG), Håkon Austbø (Oslo), Anna Gawboy (Ohio State University).

Elina Akselrud


American pianist and fine art photographer of Ukrainian origin Elina Akselrud is the founder and artistic director of a multidisciplinary organization Intertwining Arts, as well as the lead artist of all its crossover projects. Elina made her orchestra debut at the age of eight, studying at Kyiv Special Music School with Irina Lipatova and Irina Barinova.  She is a prize winner of international piano competitions, such as Chopin on Thousand Islands’10, USA (1st Prize), Chopin in Hartford’12, USA (1st Prize), Midwest’14 in IA, U.S.A (2nd Prize), Chopin in Canberra’14, Australia (3rd Prize) and others. Elina has performed throughout Europe, Australia, and USA; she appeared with orchestras, such as the Ukrainian National Orchestra, the Kaufman Center Orchestra, NEC Symphony, and Lucerne Symphony, among others.  Elina Akselrud received her education at Mannes School of Music in New York City, USA (Bachelor of Music’12), New England Conservatory in Boston, USA, with Alexander Korsantia (Master of Music’14), Hochschule Luzern – Musik in Lucerne, Switzerland, with Konstantin Lifschitz (Master of Arts in Music, Major Solo Performance’18), and Scuola di Musica di Fiesole in Florence, Italy, with Eliso Virsaladze.  Elina is currently working on her Doctoral Degree in Artistic Research at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, Austria, where her project Artistic Interpretation in a Crossdisciplinary Context - Late Piano Œuvre of Alexander Scriabin has been supervised by Markus Schirmer and Deniz Peters, and where she holds a position of a research assistant.