Vástádus eana – The answer is land
The Voices of the Tundra
Seven black-clad women, fists raised, brandish megaphones above their heads, in front of Esplanade Tranquille. They start dancing to ask the land for permission to gather on it. Then, walking with heads held high, they lead the audience into the depths of the theatre for Vástádus eana: a galvanizing choreographed concert that amplifies the long-repressed voices of the Sámi people.
Through their polyphonic chants and their movements, the performers draw us into an a cappella story of resistance and healing. Their voices are rooted in joik, the captivating Sámi music sung while travelling across the land. Embodying memory, they celebrate the alliances between all living creatures and the land, between nature and the community. Inspired by socio-ecological movements and Sámi spirituality, this hymn pays tribute to all those who fight injustice. Feel our collective strength!
Produced by Elle Sofe Sara
Artistic Director and Choregrapher Elle Sofe Sara
Performed by Grete Daling + Olga-Lise Holmen + Sara Marielle Gaup Beaska + Risten Anine Gaup + Emilie Karlsen + Julie Moviken + Nora Svenning
Music Frode Fjellheim
Set Design Elin Melberg
Costume Design Ramona Salo + Elle Sofe Sara
Lighting Design Øystein Heitman
Choreographed with Alexandra Wingate
Dramaturgy Thomas Schaupp
Producer Maiken Garder + Nordberg Movement
Hat sewing Karen Inga Buljo Oskal + Unni Fjellheim + Zja Gali + Zoja Galkina + Jorunn Løkvold + Hilly Sarre + Sara Inga Utsi Bongo
Dress sewing Karen Inga Buljo Oskal + Ann Mari Sara
Performance title based on Rájácumma – Kiss from the Border by Niillas Holmberg + Jenni Laiti + Outi Pietski
Tour Manager Ingvild Kristin Kirkvik
Lighting Technician Anniell Olsen
Sound Technician Eivind Steinholm
Agent Magnus Nordberg
Co-produced by Arctic Arts Festival (Harstad)+ Norrlandsopraen (Umeå) + Tanz im August (Berlin)
Funded by Sámediggi (Karasjok) + Norsk Kulturråd (Oslo) + Nordisk Kulturkontakt (Helsinki) + Fond for Lyd Og Bilde (Oslo) + Dáiddafoanda + Sámiráđđi (Karasjok)+ Spenn
Partners Davvi Centre for Performing Arts + The Sámi National Theatre
Premiered at Arctic Arts Festival, Harstad, on June 19, 2021
Présentation en collaboration avec / Presented in association with Monument-National
Written by Nayla Naoufal
Translated by David Dalgleish
About the artist
Elle Sofe Sara (Guovdageaidnu)
Operating at the intersection of the performing arts, film, and video, choreographer and director Elle Sofe Sara explores various aspects of physicality and Sámi customs that have escaped colonial erasure.
This Indigenous people, to which she belongs, inhabits a transnational region called Sápmi that extends across central Norway and Sweden, northern Finland, and Russia’s Kola peninsula. The choreographer lives there herself, at Guovdageaidnu in Norway, where she grew up in a family of reindeer herders. She also co-founded the Sámi artistic collective Dáiddadállu there. Each year, Sara takes part in the seasonal migration of reindeer and the marking of newborns in fall with her children.
Having completed a master’s degree in choreography at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHIO), Sara also studied dance at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire in London. Her works have received numerous awards. Among others, her short film Ribadit (2019) won the Moon Jury Award at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto.
For her work Vástádus eana, which was created in 2021 and will open FTA 2023, Sara worked with the Sámi composer, musician, and joiker Frode Fjellheim, who wrote some of the show’s joiks. A professor of music at Nord University, he made a name for himself with his band Transjoik. Vástádus eana received the 2020-2022 Critics Award in Norway, where Sara is considered one of her generation’s most influential dance artists. The show has been presented at some of Europe’s most prestigious theatres and festivals. Montreal is its first stop on Turtle Island.
Sara’s current and future projects include creating a piece for the Norwegian dance company Carte Blanche (in 2023) and directing the first-ever feature-length musical in a Sámi language (in 2025). Entitled Árru, this film rooted in the joik vocal tradition addresses the socio-ecological impact of a copper mine near Guovdageaidnu.
“A performance of roots, reclamation and resilience. […] A tremblingly beautiful polyphony.”
Sedera Ranaivoarinosy, Spring Back Magazine (Germany), 2022-08-19
“Sara’s creation has the audience swimming through a polyphonic channel of sound. […] Gentle and powerful.”
Parvatchi Ramanathan, Tanzschreiber (Germany), 2022-08-15
“Elle Sofe’s approach and choreographic language make her one of the most interesting choreographers of her generation. […] She manages to present hyper-local themes in a way that is experienced universally.”
Frode Fjellheim, Vueli.no (Norway), 2021-06-30
“Vástádus eana should be seen by a large audience. […] I sincerely hope that people seize the unique possibility Elle Sofe Sara offers: A small all evening event of sonorous magic.”
Karen Frøsland Nystøyl, NRK (Norway), 2021-06-20