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More about the production – The Dead Live On in Our Dreams

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There appear to be just as many realities as people. No one has the right to tell anyone what is right and what is wrong. Everyone is entitled to their own understanding of reality. There seems to be no common ethical and moral discussion in society; this is something that everyone has privatised. The distance between us has become steadily wider. Yet the world has become smaller and smaller. There are more and more of us, which means that we have less space and fewer resources to share. So we have to share more, we have to get closer to each other, we have to coexist. To create situations in which we as fellow citizens actively choose to engage in dialogue with each other. Performance art has a function with regard to these challenges. Impure Company wants to provide a space where we can share and try out different realities.

Biographical approach I have always worked biographically. This means that my background is part of all my works. However, I never put my personal stories at the centre of my works. I use the personal element to engage in dialogue with our era, and I constantly communicate with the world around me, in order to convey a general relevance in my art. Time changes, and so do my priorities about what to emphasise from my own background as a choreographer and dancer. What I highlight is affected by culture, mentality and social trends. Historically, my early choreographies reflected my war zone upbringing, and the fact that I came to Norway alone as a child asylum-seeker. This meant that Impure Company’s works were about violence, death, power and love. Now there are other aspects of my background which it is important to emphasise. I have now been in Norway for 31 years. I am integrated, I speak the language, and the culture is part of me. I have a voice in the public domain, and I have a high position in the art world. But the most important thing is that I could never have achieved what I have without the help of all those who stood in support of me and not least stood against me. It is that which is the inspiration and driving force behind my current projects: the active battle against narrow-mindedness and towards sociability and accommodation. How people stand together. How much dialogue, confrontation and determination is needed to ensure that there is an understanding of the reality of others.

Different every time The Dead Live On in Our Dreams is a laboratory and a research process which has taken more than four years. In this work, I go back to creating solo, and to being both the dancer and choreographer. Sometimes I also invite other artists into the process, which means that some performances will have several performers, but a constant in all the performances are the Iranians musicians Arash Moradi, Habib Meftah Bousheri and Mehdi Bagheri.

The production will be performed in a number of venues, in many towns and countries, because it follows me through the enormous network which I have built up. The work is characterised by constant change and movement, and it has as many different versions as performances. In terms of method, the productions are developed in the studio for one month in every six, as the basis for the material which I adapt to the various performance venues, based on my encounters with the location, the people at these locations and the guest artists; we work for several days at a time, with everyone involved as a co-producer.

Music as scenography The music which is created on the stage is a further development of the basic principles in my movement material: fall, fall out, fall down, fall up, fall away. Heavy hips which force the knees to bend, feet which suck the floor towards them, the body which is thrown out into the big space and which gathers itself together and stands quietly, the neck which holds the head and bends it in all directions. I am interested in this exploration of throwing myself in front of the audience, of creating while I am being watched and exposing myself to continuous and spontaneous criticism. One of the objectives is for the music to be an element of the scenography. It should influence the physics, the imagination and the choices I make, and the movements will give the music resistance. In this way, the music will be in the body and will also act as a wall against which to throw the body. The Persian music will represent a place (a different place) and also create a place: the place in which we as the artists and audience are together for the duration of the production. The music will be live. The exploration will involve the creation of movement material by meeting myself through the music, by going back to something that is so distant that it is a memory almost like poetry. This is about delving deeper into the structures and logic of the way the Persian music is composed, and how the poetry in this music tradition is told.

Persian storytelling The Persian music is built on fixed phrases which are passed down from master to student. Once you have mastered these phrases, you can start improvising. These phrases also originate directly from Persian poetry. A poem can form the basis for a phrase.

The format of the production is inspired by Persian storytelling. You narrate a topic, and construct it as a story which moves between past, present and imagination. When the storytelling takes place in different locations, it is the guest artists from these locations which get to tell their stories. In this way, the work becomes a modern version of the mediaeval troubadour who travelled around and told stories in different places. These were inspired by the Shânâmeh (Book of Kings) which is a Persian book by Ferdousi, who collected all the Persian stories after the Islamic conquest of Persia (Iran).

The artistic aim of each performance is for the audience to perceive the work as an arena. For them to experience what it means at an individual level to allow oneself to remember the past and experience nostalgia.

Hooman Sharifi, October 2018

The Dead Live On in Our Dreams, 28.–31. March 2019

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