Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Metonymi-- a collaborative art/movement project come to life in Iceland

It's been no secret that I've been teaching yoga for the last 7 years to the tunes and rhythms of my favorite Icelandic musicians.  It creates an atmosphere of receptivity to mood, emotion, and awareness that resonates with me...and hopefully those who come to class.  So it's no surprise to me when others feel moved to create and inspire with such music.
A few years ago, I met my dear friend Nina's daughter, who then also became a dear friend.  That gal is Samantha Shay.  She is a recent graduate of CalArts and is a true artistic force!  She has tons of visions that I have absolutely no doubt will come to fruition in her life.  She's already become quite the mover, shaker, and traveller.  Besides being an artist in every sense of the word (director, producer, actor, choreographer, stylist...), she is hilarious and warm and inspiring.  I often tell her that if I were 10 years younger I would be part of her "troupe."  ;)  Who knows, maybe someday I'll get to collaborate with her?!

I'm happy to say that she has evolved to possess a healthy obsession with Iceland as well!  She's already created and directed a few shows involving Icelandic music as a theme.  Most notably, Dancing Behind My Eyelids which played here in Cambridge at the Zero Arrow Theater (part of the A.R.T.).  Since graduating this past spring, she has up and moved to our favorite land for the summer to create and develop a new work of art (in addition to interning for Iceland Airwaves Music Fest).  
This work of art is a collaborative workshop for young people with different disabilities in Reykjavik, Iceland.  It's called Metonymi.  
It's become the work of Samantha along with 3 of her American friends, and they have gotten help from some of my favorite Icelandic artists, too!  It's so exciting.  Soley, Olafur Arnalds, Olof Arnalds, and the clothing producers, Mundi are just a few lending their talents.  
As a lifelong supporter of Best Buddies here in the U.S., Samantha has been stirring up a project like this for some time.  Doing it in Iceland forced her and her American collaborators to learn about new forms of communication & creativity, as the participants speak only some or no English, as well as have different kinds of disabilities.  Sam told me, "I find myself communicating most with a girl in our group named Elin, who is both deaf and cannot understand English at all. We have a kind of understanding that is entirely reliant on intelligence, and not a constructed kind of knowledge, which is what the workshop is all about."
They have translators but have discovered that movement and physicality works more than speaking in getting each other to respond...and of course, the music.  The result of the workshop?  A short video art piece to be released shortly that features the participants performing a movement vocabulary that they have developed as a group.  As their own culture.  It was filmed at a waterfall, and a black beach on the south coast.  In addition, Samantha and her collaborators created a documentary of the entire experience and creative process.  This will include 1 minute short clips that the participants themselves created in and around Reykjavik.  
The films are currently slated to screen at the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival in early November.  And the whole project was primarily self-funded with gratitude to the local artists mentioned who so willingly produced their gifts for the group.  

I am so proud and in awe of Samantha and her team, and simply cannot wait for the films!  I'm finally heading back to Iceland myself with my husband and son, for the first time in 2 years this October.  Will keep ya posted.  

Check out www.metonymi.com for more explanation of the project.  

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