Optically nourishing Birds With Skymirrors premieres in US

“While many artists may feel moved to address climate change, the matter has special urgency for the Samoan choreographer Lemi Ponifasio and the members of his company, Mau,” New York Times correspondent Siobhan Burkenov writes.

“In a programme note for his ‘Birds With Skymirrors,’ which had its United States premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House, Ponifasio explains that many of the performers hail from low-lying atolls in the Pacific. In that part of the world, ‘Radical climate change is not an apocalypse about to happen,’ he warns. ‘It is already here.’

“He conceived ‘Birds With Skymirrors’ not as a political rant but as a meditation on the end, an examination of the threshold between life and death: What might the last dance on earth look like? The title refers to his discovery of birds grasping ribbons of videotape in their beaks, ‘like liquid mirrors in the sky,’ he writes, on the atoll of Tarawa.

“‘Birds With Skymirrors’ tends toward spectacle more than toward ceremony, its sheen more optically than spiritually nourishing. But that changes in one of the final passages, when several performers carefully blanket the stage in white dust, and the robed men pass a harmonious song among them. It’s when the end draws near that you most want to remain in their world.”

Original article by Siobhan Burkenov, The New York Times, November 20, 2014.

Photo by Andrea Mohin.


Tags: Birds with Skymirrors  Brooklyn  Brooklyn Academy of Music  Lemi Ponifasio  MAU  New York Times (The)  Tarawa  

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