London premiere: Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells, 7 & 8 November then touring.
Choreographer and performer Aakash Odedra has created his first company work on seven dancers from Turkey. A powerful physical exploration of oppression in all its guises, layers and contexts, #JeSuis has its London premiere at the Lilian Baylis Studio at Sadler’s Wells on 7 and 8 November.
#JeSuis has been several years in the making. Odedra first met the dancers in 2012 when he taught a workshop at Mimar Sinan University, Istanbul – and it was their collective responses to the widespread misinterpretations of their country which inspired him to create the piece. Preview performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2017 won the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award and in June 2018 it won the Eastern Eye ACTA Dance Award. The world premiere took place at the New York University Abu Dhabi in February of this year.
“A production addressing freedom of expression in Turkey is particularly resonant for us as an organisation as our colleagues from Amnesty International Turkey are currently languishing in jail.”
Wrapped up in ideas around displacement, refuge and instability, #JeSuis portrays the frustrations of lives lived in conflict, a homeland that no longer knows the meaning of ‘home’, living somewhere where freedoms and choices are a luxury and the main hope is to stay safe.
#JeSuis also looks at the role of the media in dictating the stories we see. While #JeSuisCharlie brought solidarity and comfort to a world grieving the horrific attacks in Paris in 2015, other equally appalling attacks took place in Kabul and Istanbul but failed to capture the attention in quite the same way. #JeSuis acknowledges that some acts of oppression are more loudly heard and deeply felt than others.
The dancers are Gizem Aksu, Yasin Anar, Evrim Akyay, Taner Güngör, Su Güzey, Beril Şenöz and Melissa Ugolini.
The musical score is by Odedra’s long-term collaborator Nicki Wells. Dramaturgy is by Lou Cope and lighting design by Alessandro Barbieri.
Naomi McAuliffe, Amnesty International’s Scotland Programme Director, said of the piece: “#JeSuis is a powerful wake-up call to everyone on the climate of violence and oppression that people in Turkey are currently enduring. To see attacks on freedom of expression portrayed through the medium of dance was incredibly powerful and accessible…. A production addressing freedom of expression in Turkey is particularly resonant for us as an organisation as our colleagues from Amnesty International Turkey are currently languishing in jail.”