“Nobody is ever just a refugee….Let us tell a different story. Let us remember that the movement of human beings on earth is not new. Human history is a history of movement and mingling.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“A man whose eyes love opens risks his soul –
His dancing breaks beyond the mind’s control.” –
Farid al-Din AttarThe Conference of the Birds

In the Spring of 2018, with support from a Building Bridges grant from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, and a Live Arts Boston grant from The Boston Foundation, the Boston Center for the Arts has commissioned ANIKAYA Dance Theater to create The Conference of the Birds. Conference of the Birds will be an evening-length movement theater work inspired by the epic poem of Farid Ud din Attar, and embodying stories gathered from modern-day refugees and other migrants.

Preview Brochure

Collaborating Artists:


shawpongSHAW 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.


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 is currently pursuing her doctorate in Performing Arts/Dance at UNICAMP researching the notions of coloniality in dance , pedagogial proposes and south-south relations approaching the biography of the Senegalese coreographer Germaine Acogny.

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 training based on multi-corporealities and decolonial 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 – alll of them with the approach of the notion of coloniality of gesture.




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. Initially self-taught, he participated in several workshops and courses 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 1erTemps, with whom he worked as assistant 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, “Derrière le Rideau” has been an evolution for him choreographically and has led to more touring. 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 is currently creating a new work with US-based Wendy Jehlen on repetition in movement. Center Chorégraphique Multicorps is located in the heart of the city of Cotonou since 2011 and is frequented by more than 300 regular students. It opens its dance studios to residencies of choreographic creation and offers courses to amateurs and professionals, as well as professional workshops.


Shika, an Egyptian dancer of Nubian origin, graduated from Cairo University and worked in commercial dance before joining the Cairo Contemporary Dance Center (CCDC). In 2012, Dancing on the Edge and CCDC awarded him a grant to attend the HJS summer intensive in Amsterdam. He was invited to perform in Denmark’s 2013 Images Biennale.

His passion for African dance began when he met Vincent Mantsoe and Mama Germaine Acogny and he became the first Egyptian accepted into their school in Senegal – L’Ecole Des Sables (EDS). In 2015, Shika was named a CEC Artslink Fellow and hosted in Brooklyn by Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group.

In 2016, he was selected to participate in the P.A.R.T.S/EDS exchange program and was named an inaugural member of the Citizens Artists Incubator (CAI), a project funded by the EU. His project with Brooklyn artist Annie Wang was awarded a CEC Artslink Independent Project grant. In 2017 Shika have the privilege by awarded the “Pina Bausch Fellowship for dance and Choreography” of 2017.

Within the frame of CCDC, EDS, CEC, and other programs, Shika has had the opportunity to study and work with international artists such as Olivier Dubois, Claude Brumachon & Benjamin La Marche, Francesco Scavetta, Nora Chipaumire, Sophiatou Kossoko and Frey Faust.


Originally from Washington, D.C., Tara Murphy grew up studying ballet and theater. She earned her B.A. in theater and religious studies at Yale University, where she also began studying African dance. At this time Tara began exploring her African heritage through African studies at Yale, and was awarded a fellowship to study traditional dance and drumming at the University of Legon in Ghana, West Africa. For the past 20 years, she has studied closely with many African artists in Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston. Through her study of African dance, Tara was also deeply attracted to the dances of the African diaspora. She has trained comprehensively with many Afro-Caribbean dance genres, namely Afro-Haitian, Afro-Brazilian and Samba. Additionally, Tara pursued her longtime passion for Indian culture by studying classical Indian dance (Bharata Natyam), with her teachers Neena Gulati, Aparna Sindhoor and Wendy Jehlen.


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 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)