Dancing Out of Darkness: My Story


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I originally went to film school because I wanted to be a director, and I wanted to tell stories. And all of those skills have come back to me, almost through a back door. Now I do get to tell stories through directing. How do you scout locations? I literally had 30 hours on the ground from wheels up to wheels down because we were in the middle of a tour.

But I planned ahead so that the moment I landed, I jumped in a car and was on my way to these mudflats. The moment I got off the stage the next afternoon, I was on a helicopter to fly to a glacier to film these videos. Forbes : I also see that you film in snowy locations every so often. That seems very physically demanding to shoot.

Kristina Rihanoff

My hands will literally be frozen, so the bow starts to fall. And we have to stop shooting until my hand gets enough blood in it again that I can hold onto the bow. Forbes : What kind of planning went into your upcoming winter tour? How is the stage production going to be revamped?

But adding two guys to the mix allows for a lot more partner work and a totally different feel in some of the choreography. Last year, I did Dancing With the Stars , and it just made me fall in love with ballroom dance. It was a one-shot music video that involved three different styles of ballroom dance. I just would not have had the confidence or the skills to do so. So I cannot wait for that one to come out. Forbes : Where do you feel your career is at now? Where do you want to go? If I just got to do that for the rest of my life, I would be very, very happy. My main focus at Forbes is global pop trends, but I cut my teeth on the indie rock beat.

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Kristina Rihanoff: Dancing Out of Darkness: My Story [9781784187736]

She taught what was then called 'household studies'. It was still being taught when I was in school and I think the best way to describe it is that boys learnt manly stuff — like how to bang a nail into a piece of wood, or something — and girls would learn how to knit or sew, or cook. It all sounds terribly old-fashioned now, I suppose, but that is what my grandmother taught in her school while my grandfather, Grigory Osadchy, was an engineer and also a highly educated man. My mum's childhood wasn't a particularly happy one. When she was born on 5 January , Grigory was well on his way to becoming an alcoholic; over the years it just got worse and he became a heavy drinker.

Mum told me that when she was growing up quite often she would spend some nights staying awake, just waiting for my grandfather to get home drunk as he was very violent and would be physically aggressive towards my grandmother. When that happened, my grandmother would often take my mother away and they would end up sleeping overnight in the school where she taught, just to be safe for the night. And then in the morning, my mother would just wake up and walk along to her classroom and wait for the other students.

Apparently my grandmother spent a lot of time struggling to keep the marriage together as divorce was frowned upon in those days, but because of all the violence and drinking, there wasn't really another option. My mum was twelve years old at the time, but she understood what it would mean for her mother to suffer the stigma of being 'a divorcee'. And despite the abuse my grandmother suffered, she would still rather that than have people know she was a divorcee.

My grandfather did eventually stop drinking. Not long after the divorce, he had some kind of seizure and was told by the doctors that if he didn't stop, he would be dead. After that, and after the divorce as well, I suppose he decided to change his ways completely. He quit his job as a high-level engineer and moved to a small village called Risovo, near a town called Arseniev, where his sister and some of his cousins lived, and there he completely turned his life around.

Now he became a local hunter, a beekeeper and lived off the land, really, as a sort of farmer. He didn't make contact with my grandmother and my mother decided that she never wanted to hear from him either, although she did years later when I was nine years old and we went to visit him together — but more on that later.

My grandmother went on to marry a wonderful man, who became my mum's stepdad, and I class him as my grandad. His name was Boris Stolov and he was a geologist and went on lots of exciting expeditions. He was able to take my mum and grandmother around the country the Soviet Union at that time would pay for family travel and he absolutely cherished my grandmother. He loved my mother, too, and was very kind to her, helping with her education and supporting her decision when she finished school in to study engineering in Vladivostok.

Which is where, of course, at one of the hippy parties in the late seventies that my mum met my dad. He was singing and playing guitar with his band at this party and Mum has told me she instantly gravitated towards him. A good-looking guy with beautiful long black hair, he had a wonderful voice to boot and my mother, a good-looking woman herself, was instantly smitten.

They began dating and it wasn't long afterwards that Mum fell pregnant. It was and she was twenty years old, and in Russia at that time, everything had to be done by the book. This meant that they had to get married fairly promptly as a child born out of wedlock was not the way things were done and so they registered an application to get married. This system is still used in Russia today: you have to apply to get married and then you are given a month by the court to organise your wedding.

So that's what they did, and they married in a very small, intimate ceremony when my mum was three months' pregnant with me.


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As students, they received a small amount of money from the government for studying, and in those days there were initiatives in place whereby if you went into a local food shop and showed them that you were due to be married then you were granted extra food and could buy certain products at a discount. The day before the wedding my grandparents from both sides — my grandmother and my 'new' grandfather Boris and my dad's mum Marina — all came to Vladivostok to see my parents get married.

It wasn't a big wedding but Mum said it was fun because my dad and his bandmates played and sang. It is the Russian way, I believe, to make the best of everything. It doesn't matter if you don't have a lot, and at that time everyone was the same — it was all about having fun and making the best of a situation. My parents had to move out of the accommodation they were in as students because once they married they weren't allowed to live in the student halls, so they had to find a flat to rent.

Unfortunately, all the flats in the centre of Vladivostok, near the college, were really expensive so they had to move quite far out of the city in order to afford somewhere to live. An area on the outskirts was all that they could afford, and the flat they moved into was tiny. There was no furniture, no central heating and, due to a very dry summer causing the reservoir to dry up, there was no water either. This meant that my dad had to go out and fetch the water they needed so my mum could boil it and use it.

He would have to walk for about twenty minutes each way, would carry the water back in two buckets, a trip he had to make three or four times a day. It was a tough time, and while I know my mum prepared for my arrival as well as she could, the only furniture they had was a big mattress on the floor and two chairs, which she put together for my crib. He becomes ill and his death seems imminent. His captors expect him to die in the camp, but to Ai's great surprise, Estraven—whom Ai still distrusts—goes to great lengths to save him. Estraven poses as a prison guard and breaks Ai out of the farm, using his training with the Handdarrata to induce dothe , or hysterical strength, to aid him in the process.

Estraven spends the last of his money on supplies, and then steals more, breaking his own moral code. The pair begin a dangerous day trek across the northern Gobrin ice sheet back to Karhide, because Estraven believes that the very appearance of Ai in Karhide will force its acceptance of the Ekumen treaty. Over the journey Ai and Estraven learn to trust and accept one another's differences. Ai is eventually successful in teaching Estraven mindspeech; Estraven hears Ai speaking in his mind with the voice of Estraven's dead sibling and lover Arek, [32] demonstrating the close connection that Ai and Estraven have developed.

When they reach Karhide, Ai sends a radio transmission to his ship, which lands a few days later. Estraven tries to return to the land border with Orgoreyn, because he is still exiled from Karhide, but is killed by border guards, who capture Ai. Estraven's prediction is borne out when Ai's presence in Karhide, along with the fallout from Estraven's death, triggers the collapse of governments in both Karhide and Orgoreyn. Soon after, Karhide agrees to join the Ekumen, followed shortly by Orgoreyn, completing Ai's mission.

Genly Ai is the protagonist of the novel; a male native of Terra, or Earth, who is sent to Gethen by the Ekumen as a "first mobile" or envoy. He is called "Genry" by the Karhiders, who have trouble pronouncing the letter "L". He is described as rather taller and darker than the average Gethenian. Although curious and sensitive to Gethenian culture in many ways, he struggles at first to trust the ambisexual Gethenians. His own masculine mannerisms, learned on Terra, also prove to be a barrier to communication.

He arrives equipped with basic information about the language and culture from a team of investigators who had come before him. In Karhide, the king is reluctant to accept his diplomatic mission. In Orgoreyn, Ai is seemingly accepted more easily by the political leaders, yet Ai is arrested, stripped of his clothes, drugged, and sent to a work camp. During their day journey across the frozen land to return to Karhide, Ai learns to understand and love Estraven. He is the Prime Minister of Karhide at the very beginning of the novel, until he is exiled from Karhide after attempting to settle the Sinoth Valley dispute with Orgoreyn.

Estraven is one of the few Gethenians who believe Ai, and he attempts to help him from the beginning, but Ai's inability to comprehend shifgrethor leads to severe misunderstanding between them. Estraven is said to have made a taboo kemmering vow to his brother, Arek Harth rem ir Estraven, while they were both young. Convention required that they separate after they had produced a child together; because of the first vow, the second vow he made with Ashe Foreth, another partner, which was also broken before the events in Left Hand , is called a "false vow, a second vow".

Argaven Harge XV is the king of Karhide during the events of the novel. He is described both by his subjects and by Estraven as being "mad". The tenure of his prime ministers tends to be short, with both Estraven and Tibe rising and falling from power during the two Gethenian years that the novel spans.

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Argaven eventually agrees to join the Ekumen due to the political fallout of Estraven's death and Ai's escape from Orgoreyn. Pemmer Harge rem ir Tibe is Argaven Harge's cousin. Tibe becomes the prime minister of Karhide when Estraven is exiled at the beginning of the novel, and becomes the regent for a brief while when Argaven is pregnant. In contrast to Estraven, he seems intent on starting a war with Orgoreyn over the Sinnoth Valley dispute; as well as taking aggressive actions at the border, he regularly makes belligerent speeches on the radio. He is strongly opposed to Ai's mission.

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He orders Estraven to be killed at the border at the end of the novel, as a last act of defiance, knowing that Estraven and Ai's presence in Karhide means his own downfall; he resigns immediately after Estraven's death. Obsle, Yegey, and Shusgis are Commensals, three of the thirty-three councilmen that rule Orgoreyn. Obsle and Yegey are members of the "Open Trade" faction, who wish to normalize relations with Karhide.

Obsle is the commensal of the Sekeve District, and was once the head of the Orgota Naval Trade Commission in Erhenrang, where he became acquainted with Estraven. Shusgis is the commensal who hosts Genly Ai after Ai's arrival in Mishnory, and is a member of the opposing faction, which supports the Sarf, the Orgota secret police. Although Obsle and Yegey support Ai's mission, they see him more as a means of increasing their own influence within the council; thus they eventually betray him to the Sarf, in order to save themselves.

Their Open Trade faction takes control of the council after Ai's presence in Karhide becomes known at the end of the novel. The Left Hand of Darkness has received highly positive critical responses since its publication. It was one of her most popular books for many years after its publication.

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The book has been widely praised by genre commentators, academic critics, and literary reviewers. He found the book "a novel written by a magnificent writer, a totally compelling tale of human peril and striving under circumstances in which human love, and a number of other human qualities, can be depicted in a fresh context". Critics have also commented on the broad influence of the book, with writers such as Budrys citing it as an influence upon their own writing. Left Hand has been a focus of literary critique of Le Guin's work, along with her Earthsea fiction and utopian fiction.

She stated that "these male heroes with their crises of identity, caught in the stranglehold of liberal individualism, act as a dead weight at the center of the novel". Le Guin's works set in the Hainish universe explore the idea of human expansion, a theme found in the future history novels of other science-fiction authors such as Isaac Asimov. A prominent theme in the novel is social relations in a society where gender is irrelevant; in Le Guin's words, she "eliminated gender, to find out what was left". Le Guin revisited this essay in , and stated that gender was central to the novel; her earlier essay had described gender as a peripheral theme because of the defensiveness she felt over using masculine pronouns for her characters.

The novel also follows changes in the character of Genly Ai, whose behavior shifts away from the "masculine" and grows more androgynous over the course of the novel. He becomes more patient and caring, and less rigidly rationalist. Their understanding of each other's sexuality helps them achieve a more trusting relationship. Feminist theorists criticized the novel for what they saw as a homophobic depiction of the relationship between Estraven and Ai.

Both are presented as superficially masculine throughout the novel, but they never physically explore the attraction between them. Estraven's death at the end was seen as giving the message that "death is the price that must be paid for forbidden love". The androgynous nature of the inhabitants of Gethen is used to examine gender relations in human society. On Gethen, the permanently male Genly Ai is an oddity, and is seen as a "pervert" by the natives; according to reviewers, this is Le Guin's way of gently critiquing masculinity.

The book features two major religions: the Handdara, an informal system reminiscent of Taoism and Buddhism , and the Yomeshta or Meshe's cult, a close-to- monotheistic religion based on the idea of absolute knowledge of the entirety of time attained in one visionary instant by Meshe, who was originally a Foreteller of the Handdara, when attempting to answer the question: "What is the meaning of life? The differences between them underlie political distinctions between the countries and cultural distinctions between their inhabitants.

Estraven is revealed to be an adept of the Handdara. Douglas Barbour said that the fiction of the Hainish Universe contains a theme of balance between light and darkness, a central theme of Taoism. Light is the left hand of darkness, and darkness the right hand of light. Two are one, life and death, lying together like lovers in kemmer , like hands joined together, like the end and the way.

Suzanne Reid stated that this presentation of light and dark was in strong contrast to many western cultural assumptions, which believe in strongly contrasted opposites. She went on to say that Le Guin's characters have a tendency to adapt to the rhythms of nature rather than trying to conquer them, an attitude which can also be traced to Taoism. The Yomesh cult is the official religion of Orgoreyn, and worships light.

Critics such as David Lake have found parallels between the Yomesh cult and Christianity, such as the presence of saints and angels, and the use of a dating system based on the death of the prophet. The novel suggests that this focus on positives leads to the Orgota being not entirely honest, and that a balance between enlightenment and darkness is necessary for truth.

Loyalty, fidelity, and betrayal are significant themes in the book, explored against the background of both planetary and interplanetary relations. Genly Ai is sent to Gethen as an envoy of the Ekumen, whose mission is to convince the various Gethenian nations that their identities will not be destroyed when they integrate with the Ekumen. These conflicts are demonstrated by the varying loyalties of the main characters. Genly Ai tells Argaven after Estraven's death that Estraven served mankind as a whole, just as Ai did.

Estraven believes that by preventing war he was saving Karhidish lives and being loyal to his country, while King Argaven sees it as a betrayal. His decision is an example of Le Guin's portrayal of loyalty and betrayal as complementary rather than contradictory, because in joining Gethen with the Ekumen, Ai was fulfilling the larger purpose that he shared with Estraven. The theme of loyalty and trust is related to the novel's other major theme of gender. Ai has considerable difficulty in completing his mission because of his prejudice against the ambisexual Gethenians and his inability to establish a personal bond with them.

Estraven also faces difficulties communicating with Ai, who does not understand shifgrethor , the Gethenians' indirect way of giving and receiving advice. Shifgrethor is a fictional concept in the Hainish universe, first introduced in The Left Hand of Darkness. It is first mentioned by Genly Ai, when he thinks to himself "shifgrethor—prestige, face, place, the pride-relationship, the untranslatable and all-important principle of social authority in Karhide and all civilizations of Gethen".

George Slusser describes shifgrethor as "not rank, but its opposite, the ability to maintain equality in any relationship, and to do so by respecting the person of the other". McWhorter, shifgrethor can be defined simply as "a sense of honor and respect that provides the Gethenians with a way to save face in a time of crisis".

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Ai initially refuses to see a connection between his sexuality and his mode of consciousness, preventing him from truly understanding the Gethenians; thus he is unable to persuade them of the importance of his mission. The novel is framed as part of the report that Ai sends back to the Ekumen after his time on Gethen, and as such, suggests that Ai is selecting and ordering the material.

I'll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination. The soundest fact may fail or prevail in the style of its telling: like that singular organic jewel of our seas, which grows brighter as one woman wears it and, worn by another, dulls and goes to dust.

Facts are no more solid, coherent, round, and real, than pearls are.

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Dancing Out of Darkness: My Story Dancing Out of Darkness: My Story
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