Münchner Kammerspiele: Daina Ashbee ‘s new dance piece “Unrelated’

by Venetia Kapernekas

“Unrelated”
Artistic Direction, Concept, Choreography and Scenography: Daina Ashbee
Interpreters and Performers: Paige Culley and Areli Moran
Lighting Design:  Timothy Rodrigues
Music: Bashar C#
Length: 70 minutes
Production: Daina Ashbee, supported by the Canada Council for the Arts; the British-Columbia Arts Council; the First Peoples’ Cultural Council; the MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels); Circuit-Est; and Studio 303.
photo@Sarah Marie (courtesy  of the Int’s Dance Festival press office

Last Sunday afternoon, entering  the Kammerspiele theater,  a dancer welcomed us lying on her back, naked, arms and legs slightly stretched.  She looks relaxed, breathes quietly, palms up;  her skin is adorned with a her skin is adorned with a variety of tattoos, …..a deep roar creeps out of nowhere into the room, becomes louder and lays down over us.

photo @Venetia Kapernekas

….The white wall in the back of the stage becomes a place of refuge and the object of the aggressive unloading and recharge when the performer throws at her with all her strength. Her body becomes a place of ambivalence between anger, self-assertion and self-hatred – the hair to the curtain behind which she hides her face. The good news: everything that the two dancers suffer during the Munich Kammerspielen during this hour is choreographed and staged. The bad news: the stories behind Daina Ashbee’s production are true. The choreographer, living in Montréal, deals with the disappearance of indigenous women and girls in North America in “Unrelated.”  The gravity and brutality that such a theme brings with it is not a trivial task. Daina Ashbee finds a language which satisfies the seriousness of the matter and is at the same time poetic enough not only to shock us but also to touch us (in translation, Karen Kovacs, dance-muenchen blog)

photo @Daina Ashbee (courtesy of the Int’s Festival press office)

photo @Sarah Marie (courtesy of the Int’s Festival press office)

photo @Venetia Kapernekas

…the audience towards the 2/3 of the performance is involved in small, ritual actions with the two performers, a  piece of fur goes through the ranks, a hand touches me, all  happens very slowly, slow motion, with great caution,  direct and honest…

 

photos @Venetia Kapernekas

“Unrelated” is a dark work that expresses the cruelty and vulnerability confronted by Aboriginal women in Canada, while exploring the self, cultural destruction, violence and self-destruction. With a disconcerting lucidity, “Unrelated” boils with feelings of emptiness and erupts with violence suggesting the loss of culture, identity and community.  (Daina Ashbee  website ) 

In Unrelated, the first decision we needed to make was that the dancers needed to be nude. No question about it. That for me was the first layer of vulnerability the performers need to have in order to represent how vulnerable aboriginal women are. A lot of my stuff is about insistence and duration and repetition. With a time constraint, you can accentuate something that is really insistent. (Daina Ashbee on interview on Cult Montreal,)

Photo: Annik MH de Carufel Le Devoir (published at Le Devoir)

Dans Unrelated (2012), la chorégraphe abordait la violence présente dans son propre corps et la tendance à l’autodestruction tout en dépeignant la vulnérabilité et la cruauté auxquelles les femmes autochtones font largement face. Toujours personnelles et teintées de son expérience de jeune femme d’origine crie et métisse, ses créations troublantes ne manquent pas de faire leur marque dans les esprits. (‘Les séismes intimes’de Daina Ashbee, Le Devoir, Libre de Penser)

Daina Ashbee & the performers Paige Culley and Areli Moran; photo@Venetia Kapernekas

My choreography is an investigation of the body in order to address the subconscious. A deepening of my own consciousness. The art of dance brings me closer to my own body and to the awareness of my own thoughts and processes. Articulating this awareness through choreography helps to uncover my connection to the environment, the earth and to my ancestors. (Daina Ashbee statement) 

…In a mixture of contemporary and traditional dance she contrasts the terrible aspects of the history with an inner powerfulness, vulnerability, and sensitivity. In a disturbing and expressive piece two dancers embody how unknown physical strengths in the body can manifest themselves. This is a recurring theme, like a thread, in the work of this artist living in Montreal. She became known internationally following an invitation to Geneva, where she presented her work in 2015 at the Global Alliance Against Female Genital Mutilation at Musée d’ethnographie de Genève (MEG). (press release of the Int’ l Festival Tanz, Munich) 

 

 

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