In 2014 we collaborated with Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre to create ConVivir – 7 Dances to a More Compassionate World – creating the visual design, serving as design dramaturg, integrating costumes created by designer Candy Kuehn, and serving as music advisor. Directed and choreographed by Susana di Palma, audiences were mesmerized by such acclaimed modern world masters of flamenco, hip hop, and Sephardic music and movement as Amir-John Haddad, José Salinas, Arcadio Marin, David Jordan Harris, Antonio Arrebola, Judith Brin Ingber, La Conja and Zorongo dancers.
Here is how Artistic Director Susana di Palma describes her inspiration for the show:
ConVivir – 7 Dances to A More Compassionate World has two sources of inspiration for me. The story of the Convivencia (coexistence) period in Spanish history (711 CE to 1492 CE) when Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together in relative harmony, has intrigued me since my first visit to Spain in 1969. Visiting the glorious architecture of the Mosque and Synagogue in Cordoba, the Alhambra in Granada, Barrio de Santa Cruz (the old Jewish quarter) in Sevilla, plus walking the Calle de la Inquisition, I was haunted by the ghosts of people past – Jews, Muslims. GONE! I felt a great sense of loss for Spain. Now, together with contemporary Spaniards, I celebrate the renewed welcoming of the Sephardic and Muslim people, and the current culture of tolerance. The romantic stories, images and tastes of the past provoke my imagination in our new work. The other source of inspiration for this work is the book “Twelve Steps to A Compassionate Life” written by the religious historian Karen Armstrong. She begins her “twelve steps” with the need to learn about compassion, encourages us to look at ourselves, our communities, our world and to love our enemies. Somehow, looking at today’s world of extremes in religious intolerance, I put the two together along with a compassionate cast of friends and artists for you to enjoy and ponder.
This is a video sampler from ConVivir:
In addition to designing exquisite costumes for the show, visual artist Candy Kuehn created digital illustrations that were integrated into the projection design. Images of sculptor Aldo Moron’s civilization sculptures were used as source material throughout the work.