The Artistic Objective Tabanka
Tabankas artistic approach celebrate our humanity: our danced rituals transform our bodies into exhibitions of who we were, who we are and the potential of what we can be. It is the perfectioning of this ritual that is the highest goal, the very “raison d´etre” of our artistic work.
Tabankas artistic goal/objective is to draw deeply from traditional and modern rituals and in that way create our own space: we let the body discuss, defend, push, press and create space where the black body can feel at home: where myths, fantasies, realities and shadows can manifest themselves in a Norwegian and Western identity.
Identity, color and body
The body mediated through perceptions about identity, belonging, ethnicity and color is a central theme for our thinking surrounding identity today. In Tabanka we lead a close dialogue with our ancestors moveable architecture and our own perception og reality, senses and our selves.
The black body in motion is tainted by strong association contrasts: the primitive, urban, animalistic, sensual, forbidden, dangerous, liberal, conservative, political, humorous, free and enslaved. In Tabanka we want to have a fearless approach to to this and seek to challenge the black body´s artistic potential,. The black body´s many strong associations, myths and taboos give it an unique ability to create temporal displacements and physcialle make the memory-technology in narrative layers. This will be explored and used as a strong artistic means.
Redistribution of the sensory
Tabanka takes upon herself what the French philosopher Jacques Renciere, in his description of arts ethical-political potential, called “redistribution of the sensory” . The art is political because it can contribute to challenge the existing redistribution og what can be seen and heard, and by whom.
We open up for new sensory fellowships. By representing untold and undertold realities and fiction, in Norway and in the West, we challenge the current distribution of what is real and fictitious, and myths about who, what and how it is to physically to move oneself in Norway and in the West. Tabanka confronts established stories about the body – especially the black body – and consequently also about the world and our existence.
Tabankas mediation of elements from tabooed danced rituals from for instance the Voudon tradition and Africa’s and the Caribbean’s long movement traditions, placed in a Western context, contributes to new connections and differences in contrast to the established Norwegian dance arts current ideas of how stories, narratives and art interrelate. The artistic director Thomas Prestø is inaugurated in Voudon traditions and has by such gained access to danced rituals that have been forbidden to film or given insight to by western eyes. That these elements appear on stage and are used as a tool is not just innovative in a Norwegian context, but also epochal on an international level.
Africanistic diaspora art has a tradition for focusing on the contexture of bodies and identities, as part of the danced ritual. Africanistic deep cultural traditions communicate and relay visible and invisible knowledge and experiences through the body. This creates both sympathy and empathy on a muscular level, that the audience sense through the dancers body.
The dancers get to through movement transfer the most immaterial and intangible of experiences. This is further enhanced through the art forms “call and response” traditions that reformulate the contract between the spectators in the audience and the subjects on stage.
Tabanka attracts a very heterogeneous audience, that extends beyond and crosses over boundaries, be it geographical, cultural, ethnic, experience-wise, sociocultural political and in terms of identity. This is a new and unique audience composition in Norway. Tabanka makes use of African and Caribbean aesthetics to break down hierarchical systems and oppositions between the different audience member’s knowledge’s and experiences. The result is a sensory fellowship in which the audience is enhanced as a norm breaking and meaning creating character that is woven in into the fiction of the art piece. This makes them into bound and participatory witnesses to the identity that is about to manifest herself through the danced ritual on stage.
THE MOVEMENT MATERIAL
Talawa is a basal technique based upon 81 African and 56 Caribbean dances. The technical elements, isolations and movement qualities in these dances have been systemized inn a technique developed to help the dance artist to master the mandatory movement repertoire and means to execute Africanistic dance. The result is 32 hand positions (in contrast to ballets five), 14 feet positions and seven isolations segments in the upper body. This makes up the technical foundation for production. The technique is fully codified and has been taught in universities and dance institutions internationally. A trained Talawa dancer has the ability to have several rhythms in the same body part at the same time and space and can move organically and with a democratic distribution between all body parts. The African aesthetics apparent lack of bones, unnatural wringing, play with balance and imbalance and juxtapositioning are central. The movements defy Western or “ballet” based perceptions of beauty and gender and is simultaneously recognizable in the fact that it takes it starting point from the body´s natural movements and reactions.
In Tabanka we aspire to draw heavily from the movement elements from disclosed and tabooed danced rituals from Africa and the Caribbean. Vibrations that stems from deep within the body, poly rhythm, hip rotations and the rituals extreme contrasts will mend into black bodies danced rituals to fit into Norway and the West. Sometimes in reactions, other times in harmony or dissonance. The dancer´s flow, vibrations, transitions and breaks will be felt and noticed through many senses, also those that do not have traditions in the West. This is an interesting expansion of the Norwegian artistic arsenal.