Birds with Skymirrors
The New Zealand choreographer Lemi Ponifasio once again provokes a new cataclysm in our imaginations with this ceremony, imbued with obscure beauty, of reconciliation with the Earth. Exceptional.
The morsels glinting in the beaks of birds were in fact toxic waste fished from the ocean. Struck by this vision of horror on a beach in the South Seas, the choreographer Lemi Ponifasio has staged a ceremony of reconciliation with mother Earth where time is suspensed and space dissolved. Birds with Skymirrors transports the audience into a parallel world where the gods whisper and shout into the ears of humans. Enigmatic incantations and age-old chants. Carved into the darkness, images of an irresistible rite of passage follow one on the other – the precise, delicate movements of gliding monks, the splendour of bodies bearing tattoos of mystery, fleeting evocations of a planet ravaged by blind modernity.
Back at the FTA after the magnetic Tempest: Without a Body (2011), the Samoan New Zealander once again provokes a cataclysm in our imaginations with this piece of obscure beauty, an invocation in the form of highly stylized tableaux that appeal to our sense of life. Exceptional.
PRODUCED BY MAU
CREATED, DESIGNED, CHOREOGRAPHED AND DIRECTED BY LEMI PONIFASIO
PERFORMED BY KASINA CAMPBELL + TIUI ELISARA + KELEMETE FU’A + IOIANE PAPALI + TANGAROA TAARA + TEATAKI TAMANGO + OFATI TANGAROA + GERARD TATIRETA + ARIKITAU TENTAU + ROSIE TEREAUAWHEA BELVIE + MAEREKE TETEKA + TUIRINA WEHI
LIGHTING DESIGN HELEN TODD
COPRODUCTION THÉÂTRE DE LA VILLE (PARIS) + THEATER DER WELT 2010 RUHR + SPIELZEIT’ EUROPA BERLINER FESTSPIELE + WIENER FESTWOCHEN + KVS (BRUSSELLS) + HOLLAND FESTIVAL + MERCAT DE LAS FLORS (BARCELONA) + DESINGEL (ANTWERP) + NEW ZEALAND INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL (WELLINGTON)
WRITTEN BY FABIENNE CABADO
TRANSLATED BY NEIL KROETSCH
PREMIERED AT THEATER DER WELT RUHR, ESSEN, ON JULY 16, 2010
LEMI PONIFASIO (AUCKLAND)
Art as Ceremony
The words “art” and “artist” do not exist in the language of Samoa, where Lemi Ponifasio was born. Anyone who feels the need to create assumes his fate, becoming a purveyor of culture and a leader in the community. Thus at the age of 20, the choreographer began dancing solo pieces in the streets of Auckland where he was studying philosophy and political science. In 1995 he founded the company MAU, from the name of a former movement for Samoan independence that also means “a declaration to the truth of a matter, or revolution, as an effort to transform”. It consists of fifteen artists from various islands in the South Pacific. In pieces where ceremony, dance, theatre and the visual arts are intermingled, Ponifasio organizes and stages the natural activation of their imagined worlds, seeking to bring forth beauty and truth. For him art is not a form of expression; it serves to integrate everything that the body and mind have as history. It is not entertainment, but ceremony that connects us to the cosmos.
Establishing a natural link between art and politics, he gives voice to the bullied, the scorned and the excluded. In the forefront were individual rights and freedom in the Tempest series (including Tempest: Without a Body, FTA, 2011), then Le Savali questioned power and life in cities of empire and now the planet itself in Birds with Skymirrors. He regularly brings together diverse artists, intellectuals, activists, leaders and communities in his MAUForum events to encourage dialogue and discussion about the pressing issues of our times.