The Twilight of Liberty
Life emerges from the shadows as strange chanting seems to be tolling the death knell for a world on the road to ruin. A man thrashes about in a cloud of ashes. An angel with wings too small for flight bellows with helplessness. A wildcat paces in circles in a cage of light. A group of people start to dance in unison. In a world where past and future are jumbled together, the characters form a collection of minimalist, highly stylized tableaux as they present a slow, enigmatic and very moving ceremony.
An arresting work of sombre beauty, Tempest: without a Body is a response to the post-9/11 political climate and policies aimed at crushing personal liberty. This piece by Lemi Ponifasio, a Samoan choreographer living in New Zealand, bears his distinctive signature of combining elements of Oceanic culture with social activism and stunning visuals. A powerful work by a major artist.
Lemi Ponifasio, A Man of his People
The words “art” and “artists” do not exist in the language of the Samoa Islands where Lemi Ponifasio was born in 1963. Anyone who feels the need to can create art, if that is his or her destiny. The artist thus becomes a purveyor of culture and a leader in the community. Inspired by this natural link between art and politics, he founded his own dance company in New Zealand, where he had studied philosophy and political science. His themes range from Mozart in Requiem to the Maori in Paradise, and he seeks to bring forth beauty and truth in pieces that combine dance, theatre and visual art.
MAU / My Destiny
Founded in 1995 in Auckland and consisting of some fifteen artists who hail from various Pacific islands, the company is named after the Samoan independence movement – MAU means revolution. Lemi Ponifasio’s work gives voice to the downtrodden, to the scorned and the excluded, and he often gets local communities involved in the artistic process. While his pieces have a certain topicality (American policy in Tempest: Without A Body, the destruction of the planet in Birds with Skymirrors), their origin springs from the subconscious of a group of artists that the choreographer brings together, shaping and staging their ideas. His work has met with acclaim in more than 20 countries.
« [L]a compagnie MAU (du nom du mouvement d’indépendance samoan) vise une sorte d’extase cérémonielle, une prière en mouvements mêlant la danse guerrière du haka, la maîtrise zen du butô et des traditions issues des peuples du Pacifique Sud. »
Catherine Makereel, Le Soir, 17/05/2008
« [T]oute la pièce est hantée par la lutte contre les ténèbres (…) Tempest envoûte par la beauté de ses images. (…) Ici un homme, mi fauve mi primate, marchant en rond à quatre pattes (…) et se heurtant à l'ombre (…) Là un buste fantôme qui perce l'obscurité (…) »
Ariane Bavelier, Le Figaro, 29/01/2010
“Made in response to the 9/11 attacks, this timeless ritual is as much a work of visual art as a dance performance.”
Donald Hutera, The Times, 08/15/2010
“Tempest is an acutely dramatic piece (…): booming sounds reverberate around a pitch black auditorium; a fallen angel with bloody wings lies crumpled and broken; a troupe of monk-like figures perform tiny steps in the gloom of a darkened stage.”
Jo Caird, Festmag, 08/12/2010
PRODUCED BY MAU
CONCEPT, SET DESIGN, CHOREOGRAPHY, TEXT AND DIRECTION LEMI PONIFASIO PERFORMED BY FRANCES CHAN + KELEMETE FU’A + TAME ITI + IOANE PAPALII + HELMI PRASETYO (TEATER RUANG) + TANGAROA TAARA + TEATAKI TAMANGO + GERARD TATIRETA + ARIKITAU TENTAU + MAEREKE TETEKA + BUREBURE TIBWERE LIGHTING DESIGN HELEN TODD
WITH THE SUPPORT OF ARTS COUNCIL CREATIVE NEW ZEALAND
PRESENTED IN ASSOCIATION WITH PLACE DES ARTS
WRITTEN BY FABIENNE CABADO TRANSLATED BY NEIL KROETSCH
SPONSOR OF THE SHOW
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED / FESTIVAL TRANSAMÉRIQUES