SCoJeC is collaborating with the Scottish Refugee Council to bring
an exciting contemporary dance performance to Scotland for Refugee Festival 2019 – and for the first time in Scotland also links contemporary with klezmer dance.
In 2015, at the height of the refugee crisis in Berlin, Israeli director and choreographer Nir de Volff, the founder of dance company "TOTAL BRUTAL", recognised how dance could be used to help migrants deal with the emotional and physical stress they may have gone through during their harrowing trip to Germany. The training he developed at that time has led to this show, which is a collaboration with three Syrian refugee dancers.
Come As You Are #Berlin, which premiers in Scotland on 27 June (Edinburgh) and 30 June (Glasgow), explores what happens when the Syrian dancers, who are trained in ballet, musicals, and folk dance, arrive in the contemporary dance world of Berlin, with its radical exploration of freedom, the body, sexuality, and identity.
SCoJeC Project and Outreach Manager Fiona Frank who attended the performance’s premier in Weimar in 2018, commented:
“I was very moved when I saw the show. I felt it really brought the refugee experience to life in a new way that I had never considered before, and I resolved to bring the dancers to Scotland. SCoJeC proposed this collaboration to the Scottish Refugee Council, and I’m so pleased that they decided it was a good fit for the Refugee Festival, with its theme this year of "Making Art, Making Home".
We also decided to involve the audience by following each performance with a klezmer ceilidh. This connection between contemporary dance and klezmer – the music and dancing of the Jews of Eastern Europe – is also a new venture, and we’re pleased that Scotland’s foremost klezmer bands, Edinburgh-based Kleyne Klezmer led by clarinet player Andrew Gardiner, and Celter Schmelter led by fiddle player Gica Loening, have agreed to participate in this project.
Nir de Volff believes that dancing together breaks down barriers, and opens doors to those around us so that we can find common ground, and become more accepting of difference. We hope that Scottish audiences agree!”
Click here to watch a short preview of Come As You Are #Berlin
One important aspect of SCoJeC’s work is delivering education programmes about Judaism and the Scottish Jewish community in schools around the country, to encourage discussion and reflection, and promote a sense of safety and inclusivity. As an extension of this educational work, we have arranged for Nir de Volff and the dancers to deliver a contemporary dance workshop in a Glasgow primary school, which will demonstrate how dancing together can help the children understand the importance of diversity in their classrooms and the wider community. The Scottish Refugee Council has also arranged for the dancers to run a dance workshop for a refugee family group.
And on the last day of the dancers’ visit to Scotland, as well as performing in the evening, they will be teaching contemporary and Syrian folk dance as part of a free open dance workshop in Glasgow, which also includes Israeli dance taught by Shosh Greenberg, and klezmer dance taught by Fiona Frank.
SCoJeC acknowledges generous support for these events from the Netherlee and Clarkston Charitable Trust, Glasgow University Chaplaincy, Glasgow University Sport, Greyfriars Charteris Centre, Dance Theatre Scotland, and the Scottish Refugee Council New Scots Integration: Rights and Communities project, funded by the EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF).