Dancer, choreographer and performance artist Austėja Vilkaitytė (b. 1985) studied art history at Vytautas Magnus University where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree. She danced at Kaunas Dance Theatre Aura and studied dance at the Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance – SEAD (Austria), the Theatre Academy Helsinki – TEAK (Finland), and the Iceland University of the Arts – LHI – in Reykjavik. In 2019, she gained a Master’s degree in choreography from University of the Arts (formerly DOCH, School of Dance and Circus) in Stockholm.
Vilkaitytė has created about three dozen performances and performance shows and danced or collaborated with more than a couple of dozen choreographers in various countries. Vilkaitytė works internationally, collaborating with other artists, such as the Paris choreographer duo Annie Vigier and Franck Apertet (Les gens d’Uterpan) and Italian artist Alex Cecchetti. In 2012, Vilkaitytė has formed the international dance collective Foreign Mountain with Lea Vendelbo Petersen (Denmark), Ásrún Magnúsdóttir (Iceland) and Lotta Suomi (Finland). In 2016, Vilkaityte was awarded the Young Artist Prize of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania.
Vilkaitytė uses autobiographical details to talk about broader issues and through experimental expression, conducts research about the social, cultural, historical and political environment. In her work, one can recognise the details of the everyday life in post-Soviet urban “sleeping districts”, the consequences of capitalism, advertising, pop culture, modern cultural trends, elements of Internet culture, as well as the issues of woman’s identity, independence and stereotypes imposed on women by society.
Vilkaitytė’s latest work in Lithuania is Atvanga (Respite, 2020). The choreographer explores the theme of how it is possible to live and experience respite (stop, pause, relaxation, rest) on stage, a space permeated by a great tradition of entertainment, productivity, mastery and the drive to create an impression. In the pause, Vilkaitytė seeks to search for a relationship with the past, listening to space and turning to the Lithuanian pop scene looking for dance stylistics, ways of expression and distinct features of movement. The main character in this choreography takes the viewers into the intertwined discourses, where various references, movement and text reveal contexts from the recent pasts, as well as the current issues.