SHE IS A REFUGEE STAR
"using choreography, music and film, mersiha’s latest piece examines her cultural heritage, the harrowing experience of leaving bosnia and making her way as a refugee across europe to the US" -jocelyn gonzalez, "my body remembers" podcast
piano/sound design -visnja krzic
film -ellen maynard
artistic advisor -hilary brown
composer -james brandon lewis
All original music that appears in the performance is composed by Visnja Krzic with the exception of the last song, by James Brandon Lewis.
SHE IS A REFUGEE STAR was made with support from New Dance Alliance, the E|MERGE Interdisciplinary Collaborative Residency at Earthdance, the Master Artist-in-Residence Program at Atlantic Center for the Arts, the BRIClab residency and commissioning program in Brooklyn, NY and Denmark Arts Center, Maine.
Photography by David Andrako
STRANGER THINGS;An Immigrant Story You Do Not See On TV
depicts a refugee/immigrant story escaping the notion of representation by taking us on a magical journey inside the complexities of a refugee/immigrant reality, vastly different, yet perversely similar to the banalities of our everyday lives (ups and downs), acknowledging our entanglement and impossibility of separation from one another in spite our geographical and physical differences, begging of us to stop, "suspend" for a moment to re-route and acknowledge a necessity of a collective re-imagining of the current World in to a better, more gentle place to exist together.
Stranger Things is developed collaboratively with the cast (dancers and non-dancers) through Mesihovic's interdisciplinary performance making approach utilizing intersectional story-telling methodology.
The first part of the triptych, “Stranger Things: An Immigrant Story You Do Not See On TV!,” was choreographed by Mesihovic, a visiting choreographer from New York. She responded to the prompt by considering her own background as a refugee from Bosnia. The soundscape interchanges from music to spoken word audio to complete silence, interrupted only by the sound of high heels clacking on the stage or a dancer rolling on the floor. The performance features a voice-over recording by Mesihovic about being a refugee. In an especially intense moment of that monologue, she speaks about her grandfather’s death as he went out to buy an orange, his favorite fruit — and dozens of oranges then spill onto and off of the stage. -The Scarletted & Black Newspaper
INTERVIEW DURING RESIDENCY AT THE GRINNELL COLLEGE IN IOWA WHILE WORKING ON STRANGER THINGS; AN IMMIGRANT STORY YOU DO NOT SEE ON TV!
Born in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mesihovic Mersiha (aHiZreM WORLD), is an interdisiciplinary artist working with elements of dance, theater, drawing, writing, sound and ethnography. Mesihovic initiated CIRCUITDEBRIS in 2011 to formally conceptualize her collaboration with artists across disciplines and passion for community engagement. Her work has been presented internationally and received support from New Dance Alliance and New York Foundation for the Arts. She was a resident artist at the Choreo Collision/Danza Venezia (2012), New Dance Alliance, NYC (2015), Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida, (2015), Earth Dance in Massachusetts, (2016), BRIClab in Brooklyn (2016) and Denmark Arts Center, Portland, Maine (2017). Mesihovic received her training at Balettakademien in Stockholm, Sarajevo National Ballet School in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iwanson International School for Contemporary Dance in Munich, and holds a BFA in Dance & Choreography from California Institute of the Arts. She has had the honor of dancing in works by contemporary icons as Ohad Naharin, Colin Connor, Trisha Brown, Rami Beer, and collaborated closely with such intrepid artists as Karen Bernard, Reggie Wilson, Visnja Krzic, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko and saxophonist/composer James Brandon Lewis. In 2015 she did dramaturgy for Kosoko’s critically praised #negrophobia. Mesihovic’s work is interested in human behavior and the infinite possibilities of the human body, challenging our perception of what is possible. Vocabulary of displacement and non-fixity of identity found in diasporic cultures, the trans-national position of her birth land Bosnia and Herzegovina and her experience as a refugee gives birth to her movement language and her ability to facilitate transgressive & transformative community spaces. Mesihovic is actively developing her unique movement practice/method M-BODYMENT interested in re-connecting us to our energetic body and discovery of the spiral dynamic present within the body. She teaches at a wide range of institutions and cultural organizations in US and abroad, including Gibney Dance Center and Peridance Capezio Ceneter in New York. She is a frequent guest lecturer at the Wits University in Johannesburg and the TUT University in Pretoria, South Africa. This fall she is pursuing a Master’s degree in Performance Studies at NYU, Tisch School of the Arts.
I am interested in the subterranean, presenting the human somatic and visceral experience in the context of the society we live in and our relationship to the world at large through looking closely at the connections, rhythms and energy that exist within our moving bodies. Through juxtaposition, fragmentation of what is familiar (the normative rhythms, recognizable imagery) and less familiar (non-normative impulses), in the stories told by our bodies, I pose questions related to freedom and what is accepted as normal in our society. Through examining the body, the energy that exists within it and connects us to everything else on earth, I can strip away the phantom images we have created of our reality and find answers to what freedom truly means.
I always stress and continue to stress, whether it be the work I am presenting, my teaching practice or how I exist in the world on and off the dance floor, it is really important to me to get people in touch with the energy they possess as human beings and the power of a singular body inside a larger frame/community.
When we realize everything is energy, just all in different states and forms, that all structures can be re-imagined and its walls shifted, that is when we realize change is possible; the current system in place can be re-organized. It can be more fluid. Hierarchical power structures can be re-arranged. Our system can be just and based on a just exchange of energy where everyone participates and holds stakes. I hope to keep sharing my realizations of what reality is/could be through the way I share my practice and activate my audiences to this alternative perception of the world.
Nothing is, everything moves and shifts and we all hold power to what direction.
"through re-discovery of the three dimensional body and and re-imagination of how we connect our jointal functions in motion the body becomes a sight for possibilities, through which we can challenge the status quo" - mesihovic
M-BODYMENT method is interested in totality of the moving body and reconnecting us to the energy we posses a human beings. The fundamental principle of the M-BODYMENT method is utilizing opposition, which allows the lengthening of muscles, opening of joints and broadening of the skeleton. The meditative warm-up build on repetition, soft focus, circularity and continuous flow leads us to reconnect to the subterranean landscapes of the energetic body. By massaging the nervous system and the double spiral wrapping arrangement of the human musculature we can access the spiral dynamic present within our moving bodies. M-BODYMENT challenges our perception of what is possible and asks of us to consider a new way of relating to ourselves, each other and to re-examine how we exist in the world.
MESIHOVIC LEADING M-BODYMENT PRACTICE OPEN TO PROFESSIONAL DANCERS & THE WIDER COMMUNITY AT BRIC IN BROOKLYN, NY
YUKI FUKUI originally from Tokyo Japan, is a NYC based dancer, choreographer and teacher. Fukui started dancing at age 3 and received her training from Yoko Shimizu in Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Misao Kai in Tokyo (Japan) and Sara Magistro in Paris (France) as a young dancer. In 2006 she moved to NYC to attend Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts. While her time there she had the privilege of performing works by Takehiro Ueyama, Karla Wolfangle, Rebecca Stenn, Jose Limon(staged by Sarah Stackhouse), Anna Sokolow (staged by Jim May), Jill Johnson, to name a few. Since graduation in 2010 with a B.A in the Arts concentration in Dance, Fukui has performed with HIU-Shudan, DajhiaIngram Dance, The Movement Collective, Amalgamate Dance Company GAS Series and Dirty Soles Dance. Currently, Fukui is an artist represented by Bellus Productions LLC. In addition to being a member of Mersiha Mesihovic/CircuitDebris, Fukui dances for Gwen Rakotovao Company where she serves as the Associate Artistic Director, as well as, as the Associate Director for the Company and Dance Academy of Long Island Dance Project.
MONICA MORDAUNT is a Southern California girl who spent summers training with Doug Varone and Dancers, Trisha Brown Dance, LA Contemporary Dance Company, and at the American Dance Festival. Her competitive dance background landed her at Chapman University where she received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree. Following graduation, Monica fell into the Los Angeles contemporary dance scene performing works by Joe Alter, Stephanie Nugent, Sarah Swenson, Genevieve Carson, and Stephan Koplowitz. Now residing in Brooklyn, she has had the pleasure of working on projects with independent choreographers and companies including BodyStories: Teresa Fellion Dance, Suzanne Beahrs Dance, and Moveworks. Monica is currently a member of RedCurrant Collective and dancer for Mersiha Mesihovic/CircuitDebris. She spends time outside of the studio as an arts development administrator, yoga instructor, reiki practitioner, and dance educator.
VISNJA KRZIC currently resides in New York City, but hails from Belgrade, Serbia where she began her music education at an early age, first as a pianist and later as a composer. While in Serbia, Krzic also worked as an assistant to the renowned Balkan composer, Goran Bregovic. She holds a Ph.D. in Music Composition from UCLA, where she studied with composers Paul Chihara and Ian Krouse, and musicologists Robert Fink and Susan McClary. She has participated in numerous master classes and music festivals such as Atelier Acanthes in Metz (France), Young Composers Meeting in Apeldoorn (Netherlands), Bartok Festival in Szombathely (Hungary), Young Artists Festival in Bayreuth (Germany) and Summer Academy at Mozarteum in Salzburg (Austria).
AITOR MENDILIBAR is a New York based filmmaker, cinematographer and musician, who collaborates across artistic genres. Originally from Basque Country, where he received degrees in computer science, telecommunications and audio-visual production, he moved to New York City in 2012 to study documentary filmmaking at the New York Film Academy. Since graduating, he has worked as a cinematographer and editor for film, television and live performance projects including his work with Oscar-nominated director/producer Oren Jacoby, and award-winning cinematographers Buddy Squires and Tom Hurwitz. Currently he is collaborating with choreographers Reggie Wilson and Raja Feather Kelly. As a musician, Mendilibar co-founded the punk rock band, Disorders, which recorded two studio albums before disbanding in 2011. In 2014, he formed The Wilsons where he is bass player.
ELLEN MAYNARD is a Brooklyn-based artist who specializes in dance film. She received a BFA in dance and video art from The Ohio State University. Ellen is co-creator of The Fleet Video Dance Production, and her dance films have placed in festivals including the International 60 Seconds Dance Film Festival, the 9th International Screendance Festival, the Third Coast Dance Film Festival, F-O-R-M, Body In Focus Video Dance Festival of Portugal, and Triskelion Arts Dance Film Lab. Ellen spends her summers in Maine as a resident videographer at Bates Dance Festival.
HILARY BROWN originally from Toronto, Canada, graduated from École de danse contemporaine de Montréal with a DEC in Danse-interprétation. As a performer, she has participated in projects with artists including Peggy Baker, Candice Breitz and David Hinton. Brown has also had the privilege of performing with Doug Elkins & Friends’ North American touring production of Fräulein Maria (2010-2012), and Kinesis Project dance theatre under the direction of Melissa Riker (2009-2014). In 2013, she co-founded the performance collective, Same As Sister (S.A.S.) with Briana Brown-Tipley. Their cross-disciplinary works have been presented at CRAWL at 22 Boerum Place, BRIC Arts | Media House (2015 BRIClab Residents) and New York Live Arts (2014-15 Fresh Tracks Residents), among other venues. In April 2017, the collective will be in residence at CAMAC Art Centre in Marnay-sur-Seine, France to continue development on their project, Odd Jewels: Beauty Under Mask.
MALCOLM BETTS is a New York based visual and movement artist, who believes that art is a transformative vehicle to bring people and communities together. Betts is currently working on his debut showcase titled, Black Bodies Down: A Depiction of Black and Brown Masculinity. He has studied at Earl Mosley's Institute of the Arts, participated in Dancing in the Street’s Dance and Social Practice Incubator, and was a creative collaborator for the marketing campaign, HIV Stops With Me.
JAMES BRANDON LEWIS is one of the modern titans of the tenor. He has received accolades from mainstream cultural tastemakers such as Ebony Magazine, who hailed him as one of “7 Young Players to Watch” and earned the respect of a diverse cross-section of esteemed artists. Lewis has shared stages with such icons as Benny Golson, Geri Allen, Wallace Roney, Grammy® Award-winning singer Dorinda Clark Cole, and the late “Queen of Gospel Music” Albertina Walker. In bold contrast, he has also worked with such intrepid artists as Weather Report bassist Alphonso Johnson, William Parker, Gerald Cleaver, Charles Gayle, Ed Shuller, Kirk Knuffke, Jason Hwang, Marilyn Crispell, Ken Filiano, Cooper Moore, Darius Jones, Eri Yamamoto, Federico Ughi, Kenny Wessel, Marvin “Bugalu” Smith and Sabir Mateen. In addition, he has collaborated with the dance company, CIRCUITDEBRIS under the direction of Mersiha Mesihovic. He attended Howard University and holds an MFA from California Institute of the Arts.
Moving beyond nationalist body value system
This research deepens the connection between the moving body, choreography and social structures in the globalized world. It connects choreographic inquiry with the trans-global concern with immigration and questions of inclusion, nationalism, xenophobia, racism and hegemony in the field of dance
By unloosening the duality between theory and practice, symbiotically tying written research with studio practice, it is occupying following concerns:
- Moving beyond the ”legal” body and the binary episteme to experiencing our bodies a new.
- Interdisciplinary topography as representation of embodied experiences existing alongside the Western “legal” body value system
My mission with this research is to while maintaining a rigorous physical practice steeped in the history and traditions of dance and choreographic inquiry deepen global understanding of the “moving” body as central to organizing space and system making, setting precedents for social structures and human interaction and a shift toward a more heterogeneous environment in the field of dance moving beyond the politics of inclusion.
RADICAL IMAGINATION:SPATIALIZING QUEERNESS
We usually think of bodies as central to performance, as protagonists and agents of social change and artistic intervention. We must accept, however, that performance also functions within systems of subjugating power in which the body is simply one more product. Colonialism, dictatorships, patriarchies, torture, capitalism, religions, globalism, and so on, construct their own bodies (Taylor, Performance 928).
If we experience the world including ourselves and each other through our bodies and if those are manipulated and constricted then our imagination too is limited to a dense, simplified experience of ourselves and so we perform the normative, what we always have known, the conditioned behavior. If the body is at the center of the power the performance has to challenge and re-imagine the norm, we need to re- reclaim our bodies from the power in which they have been constructed first and in doing so transform how we experience our world.
Embodied transversiality invites us to hold multiple positions; here, there and somewhere else, at the same time, and this practice expands on the idea of what a body is and can be. By acknowledging the we are entangled with each other is a practice of a different kind of metaphysics as well as a practice of different kind of empathy: the I is not longer separated from the whole, but rather an in-dividual part of the whole, making available for everyone to form opinions and to contribute to the interconnectedness, merging and creating the whole which is fluid, continuously being discovered and in the process. Here hierarchical structures are flattened as everyone holds value and is an active part of the whole/the system.
Once we can experience interconnectedness on an embodied level it us when the idea of mastery and the individual genius stops making sense and it is when capitalism falls flat on its face. I have also proven that everyone is a dancer over and over by seeing folk do incredible “dance moves” from no prior experience through making the infinite possibilities of mechanism of the human body available and by tying the moving body to the social. Once you can't longer commodify our experience, it is when living on the basis of exchange of energy begins. And there you have Utopia.
How I would like to be loved
I only can hear
Water clogging my ears
The sound of nothingness
I am leaving the world.
Distant noise of humanity leaving my being
Complete let go
My mother’s womb
In to depths
No point of direction
I was meditating. And it came to me. Why I love water. Because you can let go and it holds you above the surface.
But you’re re half submerged and the water is in your ears and you can hear that sound the whoooo and I believe this was probably what it felt like being an embryo. I was thinking about this. Going back in time. The making of somewhere else. How do you do undo oppressive structures?
It’s where I want to be. Loved.