Nazar Rakhmanov (Votkinsk, 1991) Tatar-Russian choreographer and dance maker. Following his deep interest in philosophy and mysticism of Hinduism, Nazar obtained his bachelor’s degree in ‘Comparative Religious Studies’  in 2014. In 2011 he started his movement practice as a dance therapy assistant for people with special needs. After being introduced to butoh, nomadic physical theatre and contemporary dance, he came to the Netherlands in 2018 to deepen his independent practice. Currently considers himself a nomadic European.


-Can you tell us about your practice – what are you working on at the moment?

In my works I endeavored to create a dance on the borderline of invisible questioning what’s given to an eye, and what isn’t – through recruiting the imagined presences, employing darkness, screens, infrared cameras and choreographic tools for embodying other entities. I have worked with live performances in total darkness mediated through video cameras. In my graduation work “Pokrov” I went with the camera out of the theatre to the place of my origin and brought it back to the stage as a three-channel screen.
Later, having traveled through Indonesia, I became acquainted with the exuberant tradition of the ‘Jaranan‘ trance dance rituals which had a major impact on my practice. In the piece “Yurodifice” I worked with the idea of a political mockumentary, where the reality is fictional but the narrative of war and exile is real and personal. Through those works my artistic practice has been developing in the logic of expansion from only my own body and my own history to working with other bodies and others’ histories. Currently I am working on the sequence of projects under common title “The Borderland” where I attempt to synthesize all of the experiences and methods I have accumulated through my previous works.

Being a Tatar-Russian choreographer, born and raised in the Udmurt Republic, I am longing to understand and connect to the local spiritual traditions of my ancestors that were purged during the soviet and post-soviet eras. By now their ways of relating to unseen matters have almost vanished from the collective memory. I believe that practices that conduct socially shared metaphysics are vital for modern society and the collective imagination of possible futures. Having a big need for such practices and acknowledging the lack of my own lived experience of traditions of the past, I am searching for new forms that touch the unseen matters through my artistic practice.

Working in theatre, I am fascinated with constructing new, unforeseen ways of hosting otherness and non-human on stage for shared co-imagination. Using my background in butoh and physical theater, I am looking at how dance can reveal not only the corporeality of the human body, but also its merge with other species, entities, and agencies. I am seeing the performing body as an arena where various different powers can clash and commingle.

What are you currently working on?

I have just presented the first piece in the sequel of “Borderland”, produced with support from Frascati Producties (Amsterdam). Next chapter of the sequence is supposed to be the mockumentary that evolves and elaborates the abstract narrative that appeared in the darkness of Frascati stage into the realm of modern day Europe.

Within this piece we imagine this uncanny other world that is inhabited by the spirits of those who lost their lives on the path of crossing and who are continuing their path towards the promised land somewhere in the North-west. We are applying the mechanics of the literary genre of Contemporary fantasy and creating a fictional world, congruent with the current political reality, but augmented with the mythic creatures. We call them the “Postmortems”, referring to post-mortem photography as a tradition of mourning portraits of recently deceased. The plot depicts their liminal, across-border travel – away from the catastrophe to the direction of A fictionalized Global North-West.

Saying this, I am questioning my previous vision of the development of the “Borderland” sequence. Understanding that we should work much stronger as a team and I need to simplify and listen. Being unsatisfied with my ability to imagine the narrative and its development, we are starting to re-envision the seed of the project and its path to reveal itself.


-What is your take on the Amsterdam art scene? Did WOW Amsterdam help you to facilitate new connections?

I have a love-hate relationship with this city. Probably it comes from the fact that It is the destination where I first settled after moving away from Russia and suffered from homesickness. Thus it became linked to the migrant crisis and the whole spectrum of unsettling emotions that it brings.

I see the Netherlands as a great place for incubating once identity as an emerging artist, maker. It asks you to build your specific signature and calls to strengthen your personal vision and approach to the craft away from tendencies of a local art field of your mother culture. At the same time it highlights the specificity of the experience that one carries.
Mentioning that, Amsterdam is a place that tends to impose a very individualistic and capitalist mode of existence on artists and their practice of creation and sharing. There are beautiful exceptions like “Marwan” collective, but all in all the influence of the place, its economical and social ecology is very strong and hard to resist.

I started my residency in WOW in April 2022, the war in Ukraine had just started and I arrived into the building simultaneously with the first wave of refugees. It immediately felt the right place for me to be at this moment. Being a Russian citizen I felt sick from the violence that my home country brought to these people, but through conversations with refugees I knew that we share a lot of emotions towards the brutality of the catastrophe. For sure, I can’t compare our experiences, but I still feel that the war has stolen my home, destroyed my fragile beliefs in the future that I could have back there. I have a daughter of eleven years old and I promised her that after my studies in Amsterdam we will be spending more time together, I didn’t fulfill the promise because I can’t imagine my life and practice in modern Russia.

My name derives from semitic languages, but surprisingly the region where it is the most spread is eastern Ukraine (the place that suffered the most from the Russian invasion). When I arrived at WOW there were at least three boys that shared the name with me. Below my window the kids were running shouting “Nazar! Nazar!”, some dirty words in Russian and in the evening they were singing Ukrainian hymn. It was very surreal and very matching my inner collision. I felt that we are sharing hope and suffering together.

Apart from that I have met several amazing souls during the coliving in WOW. Their paths and ways of telling their stories, melting their madness and caring for their loved ones are inspiring me and give information beyond words to correlate. I know that some of this bounds will continue beyond the walls of WOW and bloom in mediums of not only theater and dance.


What kind of struggles did you face while filming your movie/ making your project?

The last project that I did was under condition of darkness, making the action on the stage visible with the help of infrared camera and lights. I have over saturated the production with plenty of desires and ambitions that proved to be contradicting one another throughout the development of the project. It was extremely challenging to understand that most of it we aren’t able to bring to the stage and I started to lose grip of the core of the piece we were making.

I have gathered an amazing team, wishing for freedom of co-creation, but restricted process with my ambitions within a tight time scale. I have already worked with similar setup and knew its potential to create a merge of live act and cinema, colliding what is happening simultaneously to the showcase and what was pre-filmed and mixed. But I forgot that ideas that worked on a smaller scale grow complexity exponentially when you try to bring them on a new level.

Can you tell us about your collaboration with Frascatti, how did it start?

I was very lucky, one of my graduation pieces “POKROV” was seen by Francesce Lazzeri, who at that moment had just started to work as the dramaturge at Frascati. She invited me to do the laboratory “Beginnings” at the end of 2022. She is a very humble and attentive person, truly caring and supporting artists with advice and mediation with the rest of the team of the production house. I was quite amazed with the flexibility, artistic freedom and trust that Frascati is having towards its makers.



Are there specific themes or messages you aim to convey through your art?

The main notion that I am touching through my art practice and that I aim to convey, is the fact of inevitable and imminent mortality of a human. I attempt to comprehend this simple fact, acknowledge its aesthetic and political dimension. We are all facing eternal obscurity of finitude of this form of life. It will pass very soon and we will be absorbed by the unknown. We are all equal in relation to this boundary. No one will carry their privilege, class, skin or other fashion across this frontier. In comparison to this fact all other features, that keep division and alienation among the living, are fading. I desire to be revealing it as the potential basis for compassion, solidarity, cooperation and love making.

How do you find a balance between part-time jobs and your art practice?

There is no balance. When I was working in a cafe, I hardly had energy for my art practice. The ability to live on 300 euros a month above rent, without being miserable,  is a skill to attain and master. I value it a lot. Shoplifting and other punk practices are of great importance for survival.



-Please name some essential aspects necessary for you to keep your practice sustainable?

– Accept and cherish your madness.
– Find the allies that share and support your madness. When you find them, cherish! Generosity is something you won’t regret. When you find them, calm down, don’t hustle, take care.
– Make allies not only with humans but with … stars, wind, sun, soil, death?
– It is not the strongest who wins, but those who resist the longest.
– Rember: “Nothing that happens is useless” and “This too shall pass”.
– Step out of an emergency, read and watch what is timeless. Contemporary and hashtags are sickness.



How do you envision your personal development in the upcoming years? Do you have a plan, or do you tend to follow your instincts? 

The plan does not exist. Only hope and supernatural beliefs.

I am searching for alternative ways of existence in the cultural field, attempting to transgress borders. Currently I am looking to unsettle myself, becoming a nomad in an uncertain location between the Balkans, Paris and Amsterdam. I am looking for teachers among humans and other entities, substances.

In terms of developing myself as a maker, I would like to thoroughly digest the process of previous creation, dissecting and questioning the mechanics of growth and implication of my artistic desires. I want to downscale my visions, stepping back to essentials. Which probably would mean to make forms that won’t employ complex tech or big team and scenography. Solo or duet that will be light and easy to travel with. At the same time I want to be developing and grounding my practice to be able to share it more with others.

-What is your strategy to recharge?
The burnout and physical trauma that I suffered at the end of 2022 brought to the practices of Vipassana meditation and durational solitude walking which became the foundation for recuperation and healing.

Silence, meditation retreats and daily practice is the most powerful tool that allows the regain the connection to the source of psychic energy.

The other practice is durational walking. I have noticed that it allows radical body-mind-
space-time recalibration, rehabilitation. It is able to cure the deformation of self-perception that body and psyche suffers through constant prosthetics of body and imagery caused by screens and infrastructures, which isolate us from essential properties of space (distance, altitude, etc.), environment (habitants, moisture, temperature, other dangers and lucks), time (day, night, seasons) and even society (from vulnerability and personal codependency).

Spend time immersed in nature right before the winter comes.

-If you would be reincarnated as some other plant or animal what would it be?
Water or microorganism, something that has no eye, no “I”.



Photos by Roman Ermolaev

by WOW