Dancing about Displacement
"Come As You Are #Berlin is about what happens to us as human beings when we leave behind our culture, our families, and everything that's familiar to us. Today it's Syrians, but tomorrow who knows who will have to leave their home behind." (Nir de Volff, Director, TOTAL BRUTAL)
SCoJeC and the Scottish Refugee Council are celebrating Refugee Festival Scotland with a contemporary dance performance that explores the refugee experience. The performance has grown from an exciting collaboration between Syrian refugees and an Israeli choreographer.
Nir de Volff, the Israeli director of Berlin-based dance company TOTAL BRUTAL, and the Syrian dancers come from the same part of the world – one of the most complicated and disputed regions on the planet. “Our countries are enemies, our politicians are poisoning us with fear against each other”, said Nir.
“I would never have met them if it wasn’t for the war – so from this bad situation we can at least make something good happen. I was volunteering at a refugee organisation, teaching dance to non-dancers. That's where I met these three trained dancers who had worked in ballet and folk dance back in Syria. I could have turned my back on them and got on with my life but of course I didn't. I started to work with them, helping them to see how a contemporary dance show is created, and showing them a new physical language of improvisation.
We hear about Syrian refugees all the time, but we don’t know anything about the culture they bring from their homeland. Syria is not a desert; these dancers studied in the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus, and through the show we learn something about the culture they brought with them, as well as how they come to terms with cultural diversity for the first time in their lives, in one of the most popular cities in Europe."
Gary Christie, Head of Policy, Communications and Communities at the Scottish Refugee Council, commented, "The varied programme of events and activities across Scotland, organised by refugee-led groups, community organisations, arts bodies, and charities, celebrates and raises awareness about Scotland's many communities, strengthens connections between people from different backgrounds, and creates opportunities for people from different backgrounds to meet and get to know each other better. We believe this is so important as a way to fight back against racism, anti-migrant rhetoric, and hostility. It is a festival for everyone."
SCoJeC Director Ephraim Borowski said, "One of SCoJeC's objectives is promoting dialogue and understanding between the Jewish community and other communities in Scotland. Since we were formed 20 years ago to represent the Jewish Community of Scotland, we have worked to promote equality and good relations through our work with BEMIS and Interfaith Scotland, and are proud to have been founder members of Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees. We are delighted to be joining forces with the Scottish Refugee Council to present this exciting and moving collaborative show as part of Refugee Festival Scotland."
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).