“Conference of the Birds is a experience we all hope for when we enter a theatre, one that takes us on an emotional and visceral journey that can shift the imprints in our core.”
– Sharon Lowen, Asian Age
“A feat in choreography and set design…with ease and grace, Jehlen conveys a range of difficult themes related to migration; from the law to suicide, labour and love through her bird-dancers.”
– Pankhuri Zaheer, Festival Diary
“a new contemporary language – muscular, luxuriously weighted and full-bodied, chockfull of gestural flourishes, and kinetically courageous.”
– Karen Campbell, The Boston Globe
Conference of the Birds is an evening-length multi-media movement theater work inspired by the epic poem of Farid Ud din Attar, and embodying modern-day stories of migration.
Attar’s The Conference of the Birdsis a tale of a group of birds that set off in search of the mythical being, the Simurgh. Many of the birds abandon the quest. When the remaining birds arrive in the land of the Simurgh, they find themselves reflected – they are the Simurgh.
Created by a team of artists from ten countries and five continents, ANIKAYA’s Conference of the Birds takes Attar’s original Persian poem and tells the story of our times through it – a story of migration, of finding our way, of finding community through and in our struggles. The performance asks a question that is both timely and timeless – how can we be different together? – and it proposes an answer in the bodies of the dancers, in the layering of voices, narratives and imagery.
Filmmaker Bijoyini Chatterjee is making a documentary about the process. She has followed the Birds since before their first gathering, discovering and documenting key moments and narratives in the process itself, a process that also mirrors the journey of the Birds.
WENDY JEHLEN (director/choreographer)
Wendy Jehlen is the artistic director and founder of ANIKAYA Dance Theater. Her career has been marked by international explorations, study and creative collaboration. Her unique approach to choreography incorporates elements of Bharata Natyam, Odissi, Capoeira, Kalaripayattu, West African dance, Butoh, and a wide-range of Contemporary movement forms. Her emotionally powerful choreography has been created and performed in the US, Canada, Italy, India, Japan, Korea, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Mali and Turkey, with current collaborative projects in Benin, Japan, India, Brazil and Turkey.
Her works include Entangling (2015), a duet with Burkinabe choreographer Lacina Coulibaly inspired by Quantum Entanglement; The Deep (2015), a work for 25 dancers created in São Paulo, Brazil, Lilith (2013), a solo on the first woman; The Knocking Within (2012), an evening-length duet on a disintegrating relationship; Forest (2010), a journey through the archetypal forest; He Who Burns (2006), a trio on the figure of Iblis (Satan); Breathing Space (2003), a collaboration with Japanese choreographer Hikari Baba in Tokyo; Crane (2002), based on images from Japanese Buddhist poetry; and Haaaa (2002), inspired by the experience of childbirth.
Jehlen has received support from the Arts Envoy program (2019), Doris Duke Foundation (2017-2018),Theater Communications Group (2018), the Japan Foundation (2017), The Boston Foundation (2012 Brother Thomas Fellow, 2017), New England Foundation for the Arts (2016, 2017), Network of Ensemble Theaters (2016, 2017), the Embassies of the United States in Benin, Haiti, Burkina Faso, Brazil, Japan and Botswana (2017-2019), the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (2015, 2016), the Boston Center for the Arts Choreographers’ Residency program (2010, 2015), the Artist Fellowship Program of the Massachusetts Cultural Council (2003, 2012), the American Institute of Indian Studies (2001, 2013), the Boston Dance Alliance (2013), the National School of Drama (2006, 2011, 2013), the BU Jewish Cultural Endowment (2012), the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (2011), the Alliance Française de Madras (2006), the Fulbright program (2005-2006), the National Endowment for the Arts(2005), the Tokyo American Center (2002), the Puffin Foundation (2001), and the Ford Foundation/Arts International (1996), among others.
LUCIANE RAMOS SILVA (dance)
Luciane Ramos Silva is a dancer, choreographer, anthropologist and cultural organizer.
She holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of São Paulo (USP, 2002), an MA in Social Anthropology and African Studies from University of Campinas (UNICAMP, 2008) and a doctorate in Performing Arts/Dance from UNICAMP researching the notions of coloniality in dance , pedagogial approaches and south-south relations through the biography of the Senegalese choreographer Germaine Acogny, founder of Ecole des Sables.
She is the 2003 recipient of the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the African
Diaspora Award (2003). With this award, she initiated and developed movement and training focusing on blackness and the body in African and African Diasporic communities.
Luciane was a guest at the Conference/Festival “Tellling our stories about home” at University of North Carolina in 2016 where she participated as a lecturer, teacher and performer at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center. She also had the opportunity to teach at Duke University hosted by Professor Thomaz de Frantz at the dance department. In 2015 she presented her research-solo-in progress at Red Pop Art House, in San Francisco, California, oriented by the artist Amara Tabor-Smith
As a performing artist, she has performed as a soloist in venues throughout Brazil. Her solo “Eyes at my back and a smile at the corner of my lips” (2015/2016) was presented in North Carolina and Sao Francisco. She is the Artistic Director of the São Paulo-based performance group Diaspóros Coletivo das Artes. She leads regular dance trainings based on multi-corporealities and decolonized gesture of the Black diaspora at Sala Crisantempo in São Paulo, and has trained a variety of Brazilian dance and theater companies including Nucléo Luis Ferron, Os Crespos , Coletivo Negro. Morena Nascimento Company, Fragmento Urbano e Cia Sansacroma – all of them with the approach of the idea of coloniality of gesture.
MARCEL GBEFFA (dance)
Marcel Gbeffa is a dancer-choreographer and Artistic Director of the Centre Choregraphique Multicorps in Cotonou, Benin and choreographer of Cie Multicorps / Marcel Gbeffa. In 2007 he created the solo “Et Si …” which launched his international career at the Choreographic Encounters “Danse l’Afrique Danse 2010” in Bamako, Mali. He has completed many professional trainings including the 8th edition of professional training of traditional and Contemporary African dance at Germaine Acogny ‘s Ecole des Sables in Senegal. In 2008, he joined Andréya Ouamba and his company 1er Temps, with whom he worked as assistant to the director and dancer in works such as “Palabre”; “Sueur des shadows”, “J’ai arrêté de croire au future” which was presented at the Théâtre de Ville Les Abbesses in Paris in December 2013. He has toured in Africa, Europe and the USA with Andréya Ouamba and American choreographer Reggie Wilson.
Concurrently, he developed his own vocabulary and projects in Africa, Brazil and Europe. He created the duets “Primitive Shadow”, “Solitudes Blues” (in collaboration with choreographer Maria-Luisa Angulo of Trias Culture) and the duet “Vodoun” (a Benin/Brazil project). In co-production with the Zinsou Foundation, he created the group works “Sans regard”, “Le couloir sombre de l’amour”, “Noir mirage” and “Root’in”. “ His latest solo creation, created while a recipient of the “Visa Pour la Creation” of the Institut Français, “Derrière le Rideau” has been an evolution for him choreographically. After the tour of his trio “Les Entrailles de l’Identité”, he co-choreographed “Illusion” with Fatou Cissé from Senegal and « Empoigné(e)s » with French Vincent Fritshi and Céline Coyac Attindehou on the subject of disability. He has recently created a new evening-length work with US-based Wendy Jehlen titled “(R)evolve” and is lead collaborator with Jehlen for the project “Run Like a Girl.” Centre Chorégraphique Multicorps is located in the heart of the city of Cotonou and is frequented by more than 300 regular students. It opens its dance studios to choreographic residencies and offers courses to amateurs and professionals, as well as professional workshops.
IBRAHIM ABDO (dance)
Ibrahim Abdo(Ibrahim Abd El Hamid Ibrahim Ahmed ) is a director, choreographer, and dancer with a bachelors degree in Philosophy from Cairo University. He began acting and dancing 2006 while in university. In 2010 he joined Karima Mansour’s Cairo Contemporary Dance Center fulltime program. In 2017 he received the “Step Beyond” travel grant to attend Impulse-Tanz festival in Austria. In 2016 Ibrahim joined the first Interdisciplinary Music Theater Group in Cairo and concurrently began his own movement research research on the flow of the movement in the body from a contemporary point of view of Sufi whirling and incorporating the concept of free fall. In 2017 and 2018 in service of this research, he conducted two residencies at Alanus University, Germany to learn more about the concept of the flow as understood in the Eurythmie studies. Recently he has started to reflect more on his home cultures as Egyptian, African, Middle Eastern, and the Mediterranean. In 2015 he started a series of meetings and residencies between Egyptian and Italian choreographers to share their creative questions and to have an open dialogue. In June 2018 he performed the world premiere of the work “Green Leaves are Gone,” which is a work choreographed in collaboration between Egyptian and Italian choreographers as part of “Focus Young Mediterranean and Middle East Choreographers” in Inteatre Festival. “Green Leaves are Gone,” will take also a part in Anghiari Dance Hub September 2018 as part of the project “From Levante to Ponente” supported by the Italian Ministry for Heritage, Cultural Activities, and Tourism.
YAQI WU (dance)
Yaqi Wu is an international dance artist. She received her MFA and BFA in Dance from Minzu University of China, which has the most renowned dance program in the country. Yaqi is a virtuoso of various folk dance forms in Asia, including Han, Tibetan, Mongolian, Uyghur, Korean, Han, Dai, Yi, Miao, Wa and etc. She is also professionally trained with Ballet and Western contemporary dance. Yaqi is proficient in fusing the techniques and aesthetics of both Eastern and Western dances, and formed her uniqueness of movements and choreography. She performed in major festivals and venues across China such as National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing Dance Festival, Guangzhou Dance Festival, and etc. She has performed with Boston-based companies ANIKAYA, Kairos Dance Theater, Pasy Contemporary West African Dance Company and Abilities Dance Company.
KAE ISHIMOTO (dance)
Kae Ishimoto was born into a family of traditional Japanese dancers. She began to study jazz dance at age four, and is trained in modern and contemporary dance.
She began her dance career in 2002 under choreographer Akiko Kitamura. She then joined the Japanese contemporary dance company company Un Yamada. She has worked with many international artists including Yuri Ng (Hong Kong), dreamthinkspeak (UK), Amareya Theater (Poland) and Japanese companies such as Pappa Tarahumara and Toshiki Okada of Chelfitsch. She was introduced to Butoh by Yukio Waguri and worked with Natsu Nakajima, Yoshito Ohno and Minako Seki.
She has been invited to 19 countries in Asia, Europe and US such as Bangkok Fringe festival, Butoh Festival in Barcelona, Hungary, Malaysia and Asia Tri in Indonesia and Korea. In 2011, she performed a solo Butoh dance “Transformation Girl” using the Hijikata method of Butoh, in 7 countries in Asia and Europe. Through these diverse performing opportunities, she is attempting to construct an original, genre-less expression that synthesizes various elements and traditions of dance.
As the director of a Butoh research group “Perspectives on Hijikata Research Collective (POHRC)”, she has organized intensive workshops and events in Japan and UK in 4 years and has been invited to teach workshops in Butoh in 12 countries including Hong Kong, Bali and Mexico City.
In 2004 she co-created a performance company with 8 musicians called Wangnin Bunmei (“Fool’s Civilization”). She and her company were invited to 13 countries in Asia, Europe and US. Kae is establishing a dance style that blends an Eastern sense of the body with a borderless sensitivity that can express both specific and universal themes.
DANANG PAMUNGKAS (dance)
Danang Pamungkas was born in Solo, Indonesia. He studied traditional Javanese dance at the Mangkunegaran Palace of Surakarta, and graduated from the Indonesian Institute of the Arts in Surakarta. From 2008-2011, Danang was a member of the renowned Cloud Gate Dance Company of Taiwan under artistic director Lin Hwai Min.
Danang’s own choreography includes “Panyot Pun Padam, “ which was awarded First Prize at The Next Wave Indonesian Choreographer in Jakarta, and performed at the 2004 Surabaya Art Festival; a Beat Project Grant from Kelola Foundation performed at Teater Arena Taman Budaya Jawa Tengah In Surakarta (2011) and Salihara Theatre Jakarta also performed at Indonesian Dance Festival 2012 in Jakarta. He has collaborated as a choreographer with Indonesian director and filmmaker Garin Nugroho on “Opera Jawa Selendang Merah“ performed in Jakarta Theatre. (2013) “A Part of Passion” performed at Teater Arena Taman Budaya Surakarta. (2013) Festival Salihara Jakarta (2014) “Break the Harmony” at the Welt Museum Impulstanz Festival 2013 in Vienna; “Fly on the Earth” at the Welt Museum Vienna Austria (2013); Residence program from Austrian Ministry of Education Vienna Austria June-August 2013; “ANGST ANGEL; Return” a collaboration with Alex Dea and Maya Dance Theatre, Singapore (2014); “ Whispering of” performed at M1 Open Stage National Museum Singapore (2015); grant from the Asian Cultural Council for a 6 month residency program in New York City (2016); 6-week summer program at American Dance Festival 2016 Durham (2016)
SARVESHAN GANGEN (dance)
Sarveshan is a Bharatanatyam artist from Cape Town (South Africa), currently based in Chennai. He has studied under the Dhananjayans Karaikudi Subramanian, Leela Samson, Maxwell Xolani Rani, Joaquin Ruiz, Savitri Naidoo and Alfred Hinkel. His dance journey began at the age of three, under the guidance of Smt Savitri Naidoo (Disciple of Indira Rajan) at the Vadhini Indian Arts Academy in Cape Town.
In 2006, he received his Diploma in Bharatanatyam from the Academy and performed his Bharatanatya Arangetram with specialised training from Smt Sandhya Murali (Disciple of the Dhanajayans). In 2012, Sarveshan chos moved to Chennai to explore the nuances of Naatyam at Bharata Kalanjali, the home of the acclaimed Shanta and V.P. Dhananjayans (Padma Bhushan). Sarveshan is recognised as a nuanced performer, a thought-provoking teacher and an innovative choreographer who has given scores of performances in leading theatres in South Africa, India and abroad.
YASIN ANAR (dance)
Yasin Anar is a contemporary dancer based in Istanbul. He is a graduate of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University State Conservatory in Contemporary dance, as well as holding a certificate as Master Trainer in Turkish traditional folk dance. He has danced with a number of contemporary dance companies in Turkey and abroad including Hodjapasha Dance Theatre, MDT Istanbul Project, DEF Dance Company and the UK-based Aakash Odedra Dance Company.
SHAW PONG LIU (composer)
Violinist and composer Shaw Pong Liu engages diverse communities with creative music and social dialogue by innovating the audience experience of live music. Collaborating with artists from a wide range of disciplines Shaw Pong creates genre-defying performances whic interplay written and improvised music with storytelling an movement.
As one of three Artist-in-Residence with the City of Boston for 2016, Liu’s current project, Code Listen, explores how music can support healing and dialogue around challenging topics of gun violence, race, and law enforcement practices. In collaboration with the City, the Boston Police
Department, Teen Empowerment, and other community organizations, Liu will facilitate song-writing and collaborative music-making by police officers and teens on these topics. She will also work with local musicians to offer music performances to support families affected by gun violence, and raise public awareness.
Other recent projects include Sunbar, connecting Bostonians with sunlight, warmth, and each other during cold winter months, with the vision of a future mobile solarium; What Artists Knead, a series of breadmaking parties across five neighborhoods in Boston for artists to bake bread and discuss their ideas for Boston’s creative future; Water Graffiti for Peace, a series of outdoor Chinese water calligraphy sessions inviting public play and conversations about peace; A Bird a Day, exploring birdsong, sunrises and composition (resulting in a site-specific composition for 18 solo string players in three tiers of balconies); and Soldiers’ Tales Untold, a musical-narrative production mixing veterans’ stories, live music, and audience dialogue about war. In addition to violin, she also performs as a vocalist, erhu (Chinese violin) player, and even as an aerialist (aerial silks with Whistler in the Dark theatre company’s production of “Tales From Ovid”).
Shaw Pong is founder of the 99% String Quartet and SQUEE (String Quartets Everywhere), bringing live string quartets to cafes, subways and other public spaces in Boston. An avid explorer of new sounds, she has received commissions from A Far Cry, Lorelei Ensemble, and Dialogue Chamber Music, and she has premiered new works with groups including Bang-On-A-Can All-Stars, MIT’s Gamelan GalakTika, and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. She is a teaching artist for the Silk Road Project, the Urbano Project, Young Audiences of Massachusetts and the New England Conservatory of Music.
A graduate of U.C. Berkeley with a Masters in Violin Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music, Shaw Pong was an Expressing Boston Public Art Fellow in 2014-15, artist-ethnographer for Boston’s cultural planning initiative, Boston Creates in 2015, and one of three Artist-in-Residence for the City of Boston’s first Artist-in-Residence program in 2016. She is a 2017 Brother Thomas Fellow.
Fraction (Eric Raynaud) is a french music composer and digital art creative designer living in Paris whose work focuses on sound immersion and its interactions with the visual media. His first musical productions appeared on the German label Shitkatapult before joining the Parisien prestigious label INFINE in 2008.After his first release on the label InFiné, Raynaud moved away from traditional music fields to focus on digital arts, working on complex stage designs and hybrid writings that combine visual, sound and physical medias. In 2013, he developed DROMOS for the Mutek Festival (Canada), an incredible immersive performance that found a lot of echoes in the blogosphere and eventually get feature by Apple itself for its 30 years birthday video clip. Since then, he has kept on merging 3D immersive sound with contemporary art and architecture together, incorporating his questioning on themes that combine science and contemporary sociology. Experimentations on the spatial, physical and emotional characteristics of sounds are on the epicentre of his atypical work. He was awarded by the Institut Français in Digital Arts field in 2014 and led several months of research and creation at Society for Arts and Technology of Montreal on sound immersion and new media interactions that drove him to imagine a new piece named Entropia, that eventually toured the world and has been covered by famous media outlets like Creators Projects, DesignBoom, XLR8 and many more. Most recently (2016), he was the first artist in residence invited to the new and innovative Spatial Sound Institute created by 4DSound in Budapest (Hungary), which takes the form of a unique sound system in the world where he re-visits the atypical work Of Xenakis, Persepolis.
SHAHOU ANDALIBI (composer)
Shahou Andalibi started learning and performing Persian classical singing and Maqam music at the age of 4 under his father’s teaching. His father, Iraj Andalibi was a well-known Persian musician whose work was especially appreciated amongst Kurdish people of Iran. At the age of 6, he started playing the daf with Maqam method under the supervision of great masters such as Khalifeh Mirza Agha, Khalife Karim, and in the method of his grandfather Haj Abdolsamad Andalibi.
Shahou started playing Ney professionally at the age of 13, as only a handful of Persian musicians were able to perform this ancient instrument. His played in the Avaye Andalib Ensemble alongside his father, Iraj Andalibi. His dedication to music as well as his desire to learn works of other cultures lead him to start learning classical western music in 1991. Despite his many valuable and successful performances in Iran, he was banned from performing in public by the Iranian regime in 2013 for one year because of promoting female performance in Iran and his leading role in the vocals of Mahbanu Ensembles accompanied by the two great female musicians, Sahar Mohamad and Mahdieh Mohamadkhani.
He obtained his Master’s degree from the Art University of Tehran in 2007 with a specialty in Iranian Musical Instruments. Shahou has been an outstanding performer with more than 50 performances across the globe accompanied the grandmaster Mohamadreza Shajarian and other ensembles. He is also an educator with more than 25 years of teaching experience.
David Bengali is a Projections and Lighting designer based in New York. Recent projects include: Jules Verne: from the Earth to the Moon(BAM), Ring Of Fire (Endstation Theatre), The Golden Drum Year (Radical Evolution), Kill Me Like You Mean It (Stolen Chair), Square Peg Round Hole (Tectonic Theater Project), Two Point Oh (59E59), The Tempest (CSC/Young Company), Marie Christine (3LD), I Forgive You Ronald Reagan (Theatre Row), The Orion Experience (XL), Look Upon Our Lowliness (The Movement Theatre Co.), Cav/Pag (Tri Cities Opera), Little Nemo in Slumberland (Sarasota Opera), The Sensational Josephine Baker (Emerging Artists Theatre – Theatre Row), Ephrat Asherie Dance, Jamal Jackson Dance, The New Victory. He holds an MFA from the Department of Design for Stage and Film at NYU Tisch.
(graphic artist and content consultant)
Pouya Jahanshahi is an Iranian-American Graphic Designer, and Educator, currently Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Oklahoma State University. Mr. Jahanshahi received his MFA in Graphic Design and Integrated Media, from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).
Previously his MA studies were completed at California State University of Fullerton (CSUF) in Graphic Design, with emphasis on Semiotics and Motion Graphics. His research and projects focus on the development of what he terms “Hybrid Visual Cultures” and the unique behavior of semiotics in such environments. This perspective pertaining to Visual Hybridity is what guides his vision, visible in his works across mediums being exhibited internationally.
While presenting on such related issues internationally, his current projects include the upcoming independent documentary film: “Pasaj: The Visual Language of Iranian Graphic Design”. Furthermore he is co-founder of the Art and Design collectives “Pasaj Collaborative” and “Local / Not Local”, producing and exhibiting curatorial collections pertaining the rise of Perso-Arabic Graphic Design in national and international venues.
Producer (East Asia touring):
Reggie Liu (Liu Chang) is a cross-disciplinary director, producer and administrator with professional experience spanning Shanghai Project, Chazen Museum of Art, Himalayas Museum, Today Art Museum, American Beijing Dance Festival, American College Dance Festival, Beijing Playhouse, and Guangzhou Documentary Film Festival. He is also a classical guitar musician, photographer, and actor. Reggie is currently a MBA in Arts Administration candidate at Bolz Center in University of Wisconsin-Madison.