ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday September 9, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 15

Dance of the tents

A brilliant modern dance performance “Return to Sender”, a production by Helena Waldmann, will be staged at Waters Edge on September 10 at 7 p.m. in connection with the Goethe Institut’s 50th anniversary celebrations in Colombo. The production is presented by the Goethe-Institut Sri Lanka in collaboration with Waters Edge and with the co-operation of SriLankan Airlines and Access.

Helena Waldmann’s pieces have been hailed as amongst the most important current political works in dance. Following the International Fadjr Theatre Festival in Tehran in 2004, she was the first western choreographer to run a workshop for women from the Islamic Republic. The work 'Letters from Tentland' was born from this fruitful get-together, with the support of the Dramatic Arts Centre, Tehran and the Goethe-Institut.

It premiered a year later, at the Fadjr Festival 2005. The triumphal march of the tents went around the world for one year, and after 43 performances in 17 countries, Helena Waldmann changed the perspective of the piece for the Montpellier Danse Festival 2006. The Iranian 'Letters from Tentland' were now overwritten, answered and sent 'Return to Sender' by exiled Iranian women.

In 'Return to Sender', six exiled Iranian women succeed in formulating a passionate plea for freedom. The dance is about the supposed liberties of exile. The women perform in tents which their colleagues from Tehran have left behind, and which both groups use to veil their desires. For the exiled, the tent is a symbol of their unstable lives and also a piece of home which they cannot rid themselves of. They move on the dividing line between the two cultures. So the tents whirl around like wind blowing from two directions, they fold and unfold, ripping up like envelopes with letters from exile tumbling out.

Locked-up moving messages that speak of home as a puzzle of memories, of imminent deportation, of being inbetween, being different. And between the lines we can read how they fight against fear, how they try not to be controlled by fear.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.