Avgang 2019: DE MAN DEM
In his work Thomas Talawa Prestø, master's in choreography, reveals the complexity of carving out a self-defined identity as a black Caribbean male in urban Norwegian society.
DE MAN DEM reveals the complexity of carving out a self-defined identity as a black Caribbean male in urban Norwegian society. A society where black men are often only portrayed as “other” and under terms defined by others than themselves. This work seeks to interrogate these narratives by representing a spectrum of black Caribbean manhood in a racially and politically charged world. Drawing on gestural movement, Caribbean dance forms, spoken word, interview and rhythm, the performance explores the expressions particular to Caribbean masculinities, as they are lived, on Caribbean-Norwegian males and interpreted by 3 dancers and one choreographer whom have each lived this experience. The work also contains traces of 45 black male youth informants, as well as more than 15 Caribbean male and 10 female elders, who have generously been a part of the process of bringing the identity work to life. The work has in addition to the danced performance created an intergenerational dialogue as well as archive of experience and perspectives. The work will premiere as part of Thomas Talawa Prestøs Master Degree final at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts.
Wolman Michelle Luciano
Born in the Dominican Republic, Luciano moved to Norway at the age of one. He has lived in both Norwegian and Caribbean spaces and identifies as a Caribbean and as a Norwegian. Luciano is principle dancer and soloist in Tabanka Dance Ensemble as well as Head of Technique responsible for the technical training of new recruits. Luciano has been instrumental in building Tabankas ManHood project (www.manhood.no) and is central in training youth workers in this methodology.
Born in Norway to a Dominican mother and a Tanzanian/Somalian father Joel possesses one of the complex identities shared by many Caribbean males, as the Caribbean is a site for much ethnic mixing and hybrid identities. Joel himself identifies predominantly as Caribbean, Dominican and Norwegian. He is the Assistant Choreographer in Tabanka and is doing his own project linked to masculinity as well. Joel has been instrumental in building Tabankas ManHood project (www.manhood.no) and is central in training youth workers in this methodology.
Victor Olivares Pedersen
Victor Olivares Pedersen is Norwegian and Cuban, and identifies as a Norwegian-Cuban male, navigating a Norwegian space, embracing his Caribbean identity, both in cultural heritage, identity and in the way he wishes to move, through dance and through the world.
Victor is currently in the third year of his Bachelor in Jazz at KHIO. Victor is also a member and solist in Tabanka Dance Ensemble, having taken a dual education also in Africana movement and the Talawa Technique ®.
The Movement Material
The performance will kinaesthetically build on the following elements: the Talawa Technique - a dance technique for African and Caribbean kinesthetic movement, and Caribbean retentions of Yoruba and BaKongo dance and Philo-Mythological traditions, in combination with an exploration of the body language used by the Caribwegian dancers when engaging with other Caribbean males in Norway.
Specific attention will be given to traditional rhythmic play and treatment of rhythm as oral tradition and/or “text”. In the creation process, to dance rhythmically will be treated as dancing lyrically. We will seek to use rhythm specifically as an artistic tool in a way not much present in the Norwegian arts field. Polyrhythmic approach to body, representation, and movement will be dominant in the performance.
Thomas “Talawa” Prestø is the founder and artistic director of Tabanka African & Caribbean Peoples Dance Ensemble. The company and its associated movement technique, the Talawa Technique, has been 21 years in the making. Thomas draws from African and Caribbean cultural traditions of community and of art belonging to the community. In his perspective, Tabanka is the vessel, receptacle, and owner of his art and artistic practice. In his mind there is no real distinction between himself as an artist and the community that he creates for, and within. This affects how he creates, how he views himself, and also how he engages with the Oslo National Academy of the Arts master in choreography program. He almost never sees himself as an individual, but rather as a continually connected element relating to a greater whole. This is also linked to Thomas’ cultural upbringing and Caribbean deep cultural entry into the danced arts.
Through the work with his company Tabanka Dance Ensemble, he explores and face issues of marginalized identities, body-memory, body-politics, and political and cultural agency relating to Black performances and immaterial cultures. He seeks to be a prolific artist who creates much-needed multi-diasporic conversations on the prejudiced mechanisms of representation and segmentation of cultures that face the melanin-rich in the Nordics as we center marginalized bodies on stage and screen.