Dance Music Voice: Fairytales From The World

Inspired by stories from refugees living in the Berlin refugee camps, director Margo Zalite creates an interactive Dance-Music-Voice workshop, the first piece of which is performed at Studio Chérie on Sunday 1st November. The workshop aims to be a cooperation between the actors and audience, where the audience is invited to provide its own input to better the performance. Commencing the evening with an open rehearsal of their interpretation of the first chosen story, Zalite explains to the audience that the three participants had only practiced the piece together once before. Impressively, the open rehearsal is the last practice before the final performance. Each of the three performances is unique: it is refreshed and newly improvised each time.

The inspiration for the project came from Zalite's own musings on being an emigrant from Latvia. Similar to the refugees, she is an immigrant in Berlin. Along with people’s migration, Zalite is interested in the stories they bring with them. In order to create this project, she collected fairytales from various countries including Iraq, Iran, Syria and Pakistan; the stories were then transformed into a series of performance pieces. This particular piece tells a tale from Nigeria about the battle for the overruling title of the strongest 'Master Man'. The evening is filmed in order to promote and develop the project and subsequent performances.

A relaxed setting allows the audience to occupy every corner around the performance area, offering different perspectives. With fog seeping through the large, dimly lit space of Studio Chérie, a calm and dusky atmosphere is achieved which sets the tone for the performance and a black and white colour concept harmonises with the minimalistic look of the studio. A few lamps are lit, reflecting onto the white walls so as to be less harsh and direct on the performers. This light, combined with tea-light candles on the piano that subtly peer out through the fog, creates a distinct atmosphere.  On occasion, the characters are partially obscured and all that can be seen is their silhouettes, which again, adds to the distinguishing effect.

Chosen specifically by Zalite, both performance artist Kathryn Fischer and dancer/choreographer Ahmed Soura give powerful performances: the precision of their emotions map not only their bodies but also their facial expressions.  With an utterly captivating performance, the narrative monologue is read by Fischer. She addresses the audience directly, interacting with individuals and involving them in the story. It is evident how well she embodies the characters with strong and expressive delivery as the faces of audience members visibly express their concern for her distress. In order to fit with this style of performance, the sound concept designed by Latvian musician SHIPSI (Jānis Šipkēvics) is abstract, beginning simply with recorded voices played back on an ethereal sounding reverb. Along with augmented chords played sporadically on the piano, these sound arrangements compliment the spoken monologue. The front of the upright piano is also left open allowing SHIPSI to create sounds by striking the strings and giving the entire sound concept more depth and variation. Mirrored by Soura's movements, the composition becomes more erratic at times. Soura carves the space emotively with a powerfully controlled rhythm; his motion is weightless, fluid and hypnotic. However as tensions rise with the increasing crescendos, the dancer's sequence becomes almost disturbing.
It is a fascinating evening and the audience leaves in anticipation of further performances in this project.

By Emily D'Silva

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