Sorour Darabi draws on his Iranian roots to knit together an intimate tale of suffering and fear endured by marginalized bodies. Savušun perturbs and bewitches.
Alone onstage, Sorour Darabi exhibits a body in transition, masculine and feminine knit together. Drawing on his Iranian roots, he/she fashions an intimate tale of the suffering and fear endured by marginalized bodies. Transported by Shiite funeral rites and mourning ceremonies, the artist combines the vulgar and the sacred in a dazzling performance, as shameless as it is subversive.
An improbable body, riven by twisted movements, violence and convulsions, opens up to probe the depths of remembrance, memories of war, of martyrdom. Ecstasy and suffering intersect between cruelty and gentleness. By means of a Farsi chant, a letter addressed to his father and erotically changed scenes, Darabi seduces, perverts, pushing the limits of the body. He/she turns his/her face and body into a moving, ambiguous landscape of infinite possibility. Savušun perturbs, bewitches.
Produced by Sorour Darabi
Executive Producer Météores
Concieved, choreographed and performed by Sorour Darabi
Lighting Design Yannick Fouassier + Jean-Marc Ségalen
Dramaturgy Pauline Le Boulba
Outside Eye Mathieu Bouvier + Céline Cartillier
Sound Design Clément Bernerd
Administration Charlotte Giteau
Touring Sandrine Barrasso
Coproduction Montpellier Danse 2018 creative residency at Agora, cité internationale de la danse with the support of Fondation BNP Paribas + CND Centre national de la danse + La Villette Résidences d’artistes (Paris) + La Maison CDCN – Uzès Gard Occitanie with the support of ICI – Centre chorégraphique national Montpellier – Occitanie + Sophiensaele (Berlin) + Fonds Transfabrik– Fonds franco-allemand pour le spectacle vivant + La fée Nadou (L’Affenadou)
Presented with the support of Institut Français (Paris) + Service de coopération et d’action culturelle du Consulat général de France à Québec in association with Théâtre Prospero
Written by Elsa Pépin
Translated by Neil Kroetsch
Premiered at Montpellier Danse, on June 23, 2018
Sorour Darabi (Teheran + Paris)
A 28-year-old self-taught Iranian dancer and choreographer, Sorour Darabi is very active in Iran.
He/she is a member of the ICCD underground association, the organizers of the Untimely festival in Teheran. Given that the dance he presents is considered taboo in Iran, Darabi has been living in France since 2013, the year she/he entered the Exerce Master program at CCN in Montpellier. During the program, he/she created the solo Subject to Change, which questions transformation with regards to time and cohabitation with the environment. In 2016 Farci·e explored notions of language, gender identity and sexuality. The dancer has also performed for Jule Flierl and Pauline Brun.
For his first performance at the FTA, Sorour Darabi will present his third solo, with its connection to the Muharram grieving ceremonies of his childhood, and the emotions of grief, fear and suffering. An ode to affect and vulnerability, Savušun, “grieving at the death of Siavash”, is the name of a pre-Islamic ceremony that recreates the funeral rites for this Persian prince, historical or legendary. With this performance, Darabi pursues the work begun in his two previous solos on the limits of the body and its social constructions, violating codes. In this piece the artist addresses his cultural identity, bringing his Iranian roots into play, imbuing them with a new experience of fluidity and lack of fixedness as regards the various categories of gender, race, sexes and social classes.
Savušun is inspired by Shiite mourning ceremonies in Iran. You have chosen the solo form to portray these rituals. How do you relate to these ceremonies?
What interests me is the fact that they come from the minority Shiite culture, even though nowadays Iran is predominately Shiite. It started out as a story of minorities that have experienced oppression, have protested and who were killed during the war.
During these 6-day funeral rites, the streets shimmer with the demonstration of a powerful force generated by that connection to violence of the past, to the history of Iran, which allows all those sacrificed people to continue to exist. Without paying homage to that, I am trying to emphasize the particular beauty of those ceremonies so that things can be viewed in a new light.
I find that there is a multiple, complex connection to these rituals, as they are linked to the revolution, to war, to oppression, and they come with psychological freight and emotive power. It is also the story of our Shiite ancestors. When putting the piece together, I tried to focus on my individual rapport with this collective memory. I wanted to know how the community exists in my psyche. I realized it would not be easy to work with this material, because of the nature of my situation.
I no longer live in Iran and am thus alone, removed from that society. Living in the mostly white West, I am aware of my responsibility. Muslims are a minority in Europe and always oppressed. I probe the very private relationship I have with those ceremonies and how they affected me. I’m not trying to reproduce those ceremonies, but to create an onstage presence suffused with their memory.
There is an erotic charge to the piece, scenes linked to ecstasy and pain. Do you wish to subvert religious codes with that irreverence?
Those scenes are quite natural for me; I’m not the one who is suffering. Bodies react differently to pain, and over time the limits of the body also change. What interests me is not the question of suffering and pleasure, but reclaiming one’s body.
I view those practices from that perspective. I am in the process of changing the limits of my body, of exercising power over it, doing what I want with it. That rapport is also portrayed in Farci·e. What I do onstage might seem quite violent to the spectator, but in fact pushing the limits of who I am and how I am viewed takes on a social dimension – I represent how we prejudge people by what they do to their bodies, by the way they dress, the way they affirm their gender, by their sexual practices.
The image of pain and suffering concerns the spectators, it touches on their ability to see me and accept me as I am, doing things onstage, such as when I read a letter to my father. Many find that it has a subversive dimension. Ever since Farci·e I have been focusing a lot on the question of vulnerability, which I believe is very powerful. That power, however, has disappeared behind the image of strength and invincibility associated with masculinity. It comes from a very controlling view of things.
Is Savušun inspired by the dance style of those ceremonies?
The basic idea was to create a choreography inspired by the movements of those dances, but that aspect has since disappeared. What remains is a way of representing the body that is shared the world over, and images connected to the body’s memory.
Those funeral rites involve many emotions (pain and suffering, tears, despair), but what I opted for was a dramatic construction. I am interested, for example, in how all that relates to the mouth and the throat. For me the oral dimension is sometimes linked to the voice, sometimes to emptiness, sometimes to speech.
I work with images, like the scene with candles, from a choreographic and aesthetic perspective. I play a lot with my face and with my arms and legs. When I dance, everything moves and the face is very expressive, conveying quite a lot. It reflects a strength that then creates emotions I hope to share with the audience.
« Entre vulnérabilité et regard de défi, entre fragilité et grande force émancipatrice, Sorour Darabi confirme avec ce spectacle son charisme fascinant. »
François Maurisse, Maculture.fr, 2018-07-11
« Un solo chorégraphique capable de faire résonner les pluralités qui composent l’unité. »
« Une pièce intense très puissante… D’un mouvement de poignet, [il·elle] définit la tendresse, d’une torsion gracieuse du corps, [il·elle] dessine la sensualité. (…) Sorour Darabi possède un talent fou, il·elle ose tout. »
Sophie Lesort, Dansercanalhistorique.fr, 2018-06
« Sorour Darabi parvient à noyer nos larmes dans un spectacle à forte charge érotique (…) avec une douceur et une intensité dramatique intense. »
Stéphane Carpon, Scèneweb.fr, 2018-03-23