EDWA 2020: Assistir árvores

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland

05/12/2020 - 05/12/2020

Experimental Dance Week Aotearoa 2020

Production Details

1pm: Off-site performance; Janaina Moraes, Assistir árvores.
Meeting at Herald Theatre

Assistir árvores is a choreographic landscape to assist/see trees. What you see becoming landscape. (How) do you land on scape lines? This performance is an invitation to visit cartographic attention. The lurking of what there is and what could be. It is in this between that there is the composition of another landscape – imaginable and possible. Assistir árvores is an off-site (environmental) work that transits between dance, performance and urban art. As a performative programme, the performer invites the audiences to a durational crossing around the city reinventing the idea of both assisting and seeing the trees. Bring comfortable shoes.

assistir árvores is a collaboration between Brazilian artists Janaína Moraes and Fany Magalhães since 2019. It has been being performed on an ongoing basis under the Instagram profile @assistirarvores and the various branches of landscapes within the sites they passed through.


Meet at Herald Theatre foyer, 1pm

Site-specific/site-sympathetic , Performance installation , Multi-discipline , Experimental dance , Dance , Contemporary dance ,

90 mins

Language to land, the land, landing, landscape… landed

Review by Jennifer Nikolai 05th Dec 2020

 It is by chance that I gather a corrugated cardboard rectangle. Text, stamped on the cardboard invites the gatherer to:

Assemble your way.                 Locate yourself.                       Re-member your journey.

This is a map.

This performance begins as a gathering of participants in the Herald Theatre Foyer. Outside, a loud Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland soundscape reminds us of the tranquillity of theatrical spaces. The space holds an exhibition of materials. The participants view/see materials from a distance until the artists invite us to gather/take for ourselves, from what is exhibited. We choose chalk, dried leaves, envelopes with topographic maps, fabric satchels for holding materials such as pencils, folds of paper, corrugated cardboard… We are asked to consider what we may want to take, leave, or use as a drawing implement.  After our time together as an opportunity to gather, we depart the interior space and begin the sojourn into Auckland’s CBD, slowly following and flocking.

Assistir árvores is a choreographic landscape to assist/see trees… suggest the collaborators. A range of collaborative artists have developed the choreography, written the poetry (text), designed sustainable apparel, but in this moment we follow performer Janaína Moraes. Janaína calls us to participate, this is an invitation. The invitation is gentle and warm, and the process that unfolds is equally playful and durational. How has time slowed down in this experiential process? Have we been wandering for long?

The sun came out at one stage. The trees shaded us. Then we were exposed. No more trees.  On this land, we walk on pavement, on soil, we slip into the open arms of the trees, we stop and land.  As we traverse, drawing, writing with our gathered chalk, leaving messages with our pencils; we observe. The collective participants slowly meander through urban concrete, sprinkled amidst occasional greenery. A cartographic print we gathered in the exhibition space before departing reminds us of the once wide green space topographically represented in 2006, as occupied by cement buildings and parking lots by 2017.

The extreme juxtapositions hit me. The overgrown native bush is contained behind fences. The singing birds are heard intermittently amidst cranking cranes and clanging construction sites. There are pauses where silence rests, and then the heaving city sounds return.

But the performance remains inviting: gesturing participants with a reach, a pull, signalling to make our way through the trees that are left behind.  Just as significant as an embodied gesturing to “join” to  “move together”… Janaína writes invitations through poetic text:

Here we are. Now here. Together. Time.

And then the invitation becomes collective participation as we, the followers reciprocate with our own chalk writings:

To land. Landed. Landscape. Scape. Landed for breathing..

Our text becomes inter-responsive, embodied.  We trace with chalk in our hands, the footprints of fellow participants, leaning, bending, walking. We trace the falling leaves under the canopy of branches above us. The branches below us, dead, at our feet become writing tools themselves, instruments that mark our presence amidst the fences. Our invite become our play. Independent interpretation of roots of words delight each of us as we craft, playfully.

I observe a participant has written: (e)scape scape              (e)scape                      scape

Where another makes an acronym from LAND: from their place they write:

Landscaping And Navigating Denominators.

Text guides the cartographic navigation, as a group of keen, fellow participants, inspired by the collaborative nature of the process we now share; links language through text. Language to land, the land, landing, landscape… landed for breathing; have all emerged from the slow, collaborative invitation to reciprocate in a sojourn on a Saturday afternoon. We wander amidst a critical backdrop of cranes, pipes and hammers, to find like-minded sharing and gentle consideration.

We share slow observations of a place we may pass by every day, but today we stop and allow for the foreground to colour this urban background. The foreground, is us, we are present. We walk and breathe slowly and we breathe together for a short moment amidst the heartbreak we feel as we stare up at the overwhelmingly massive construction occurring in our green city. The city is now sprinkled with litter; water bottles and surgical masks as a 2020 feature.

This stunningly impactful sojourn provided a collective care as an empathetic breath, in the year that is 2020. With reminders of all that is hard, we shared a slow, embodied landing with a collective community of kind participants. I understand and experience collaboration by being in this shared process, today, now.

Assistir árvores is a collaboration between Brazilian artists Janaína Moraes and Fany Magalhães since 2019. It has been performed under the Instagram profile @assistirarvores and the various branches of landscapes within the sites they passed through. Collaboration with artists Yin-Chi Lee, Joaquim Oitavo, Gabriel Guira, Jasmine Indigo includes all of us who joined all of you today, December 5, 2020. Support these artists in future works and iterations of this event.

Thank you for Experimental Dance Week Aotearoa, curated by artistic director Alexa Wilson. EDWA 2020 featured eclectic performances from 18 live artists, workshops and open kōrero. The programme highlights the unique discipline of experimental dance, and fosters the growing community of creative minds behind the movement. Thank you funding bodies and audiences for supporting this growing community of fine artists, breaking ground, speaking with voices that need to be heard.


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