Russia Eurovision 2021 song explained: What does Manizha’s performance really mean?

Eurovision: Manizha performs in semi-final

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Tonight (May 22) will see the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest, which Russia has secured a place in alongside the rest of Tuesday and Thursday’s winners and the “big five”, including the UK, who immediately gain a place. Fans are eagerly awaiting 8pm so they can tune into BBC for their celebrations to start and a country to be crowned winner after a year’s break due to COVID-19. But with Russia’s memorable performance on everyone’s lips, what was the meaning behind it?

Manizha stepped onto the stage wearing a giant patchwork dress and a red jumpsuit in a Russian doll inspired outfit.

The 29-year-old performed her song Russian Woman. The song features some generic swipes Russian women often hear, such as: “Oh, beautiful, you’re over 30, hello, where are the kids?”

Manizha has said the sarcastic number mocks the stereotypical attitudes toward women.

She explained: “Now we know that this knowledge causes trauma and I won’t tell my daughter these things.

“Russian women, they are different both externally – the colour of their skin, hair, the cut of their eyes – and internally.”

Speaking to the Guardian, she added: “And in this diversity and mix is their main strength and beauty.

“It’s working class clothing. I didn’t want to be too pretty on stage.

“My manifesto is that I wanted to represent working-class heroes, working-class women who work hard to be successful.”

In a different interview, Manizha’s mother Nadzhiba Usmanova told Blueprint that one of the singer’s fans sent three fragments of fabric woven by his grandmother 100 years ago.

She said the stepping out of the dress symbolises being reborn.

She explained: “From stereotype to reality. From a piling up of images and expectations to who a woman really is.”

In the background of the performance, pictures appear on the screen depicting a woman in a kokoshnik and women carrying heavy trays.

These come from paintings by Russian artist Natalia Goncharova.

Nadzhiba said: “She (Goncharova) perfectly combined something traditional and avant-garde, East and West, she was not accepted by all her countrymen, but her talent was recognized all over the world.”

The song concludes with Manizha turning to the screen and singing along with more than 100 Russian women who, according to the singer, inspire her.

She said: “I decided to call more than a hundred Russian women to the stage, they will go to Eurovision with me.

“They will appear on those screens, they will sing the way they want, they will look the way they want and do what they want.

“I really want to show their freedom.”

Viewers certainly seemed to love her unique performance, and many took to Twitter to share their thoughts.

One said: “I think a dozen back up dancers were trapped inside Russia’s big dress #Eurovision #Eurovision2021.”

Another fan wrote: “Yessss my new winner absolutely slayed! This performance screams quality. From the quirky opening sequence with the dress to Manizha’s confidence to the final part with all the Russian women singing together.”

“RUSSIA FOR THE WIN FOR THE DRESS STUNT ALONE #Eurovision,” a third said.

The final of the Eurovision Song Contest airs tonight at 8pm on BBC One.

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