70' (no intermission), Premiered in 2007, Grenoble, 38e rugissants, ScŹne nationale Meylan, France
From late 90s up to present, Ziya Azazi's work has been primarily based on experimental whirling and repetition. He practiced a variety of movement modes mainly focusing on these notions. The previous projects of Azazi, reflected his individual and artistic analysis of traditional Sufi dance practices and their possible up to date interpretations. One of the remarkable aspects in these projects has been the simultaneous representations of contradictory perceptions of physical awareness and a high state of ecstasy, if not trans, which allowed Azazi to personally research the possible mental transformations caused by the altering intensities of speed and tension within whirling. The dynamic, joyful solo work of Azazi, where the usual whirling dervish image is in metamorphosis, aimed to transform the classical Sufi dance into a spectacular form, proposing the possibilities for personal rituals, without needing boundaries of existing belief systems.
As a collective work, consisting of duets and trios, ICONS defers slightly from Azazi's previous projects. The experimental, repetitive and progressive approach that is seen in his previous works ‘AZAB and DERVISH IN PROGRESS as well as in his recent work EMBER is also maintained in ICONS, where whirling is still the groundwork of the choreography however, in this piece he goes further and deconstructs the image of the whirling dervish, and invites a partner into the game. It does not only concern about the individual experiences with whirling, but also the possibilities opened up through peer to peer practices of it. In addition to the physical awareness within the constant repetition of whirling it gives a space for encounters, exchanges and crashes with another body. The involvement of the second body provides possibilities to indicate the dichotomies between the small and large, female and male, tough and fragile, active and passive in their conventional perceptions however the impact of the skirt breaks these cliché images by playing between the genders, sizes and strengths of the bodies.
Skirt has always been a significant component in Azazi's work. For him, it is neither simply the costume of the dervish nor solely an aesthetic complimentary element. It is rather a metaphor of the conventional settings for the individual to square up with. During the entire work the skirt continuously changes its form, assisting the icons to be constructed and deconstructed. Apart from being seen as a usual costume for the whirling dervish, it appears by itself as a giant whirling figure with an invisible dancer impersonating it; it appears as the veil, both for the male and female figures, it appears as the cape of a toreador, it appears as a body to be carried and to have a duet with; as a cover to hide under; as an object of joy to play with; as a limiting grounds to have the battle and be freed from; or as a skin to get rid of...
ICONS is constituted by a series of fractions. Each fraction is built up to become an icon, ending with its self- destruction. These icons are interconnected with each other and reunified through an intangible link. Within these icons, every movement is carried to its most possible perfect form causing the performer to perish in it. It emerges from the idea of each icon that is created in our social systems ends up with its painful deconstruction when its mission is over and each new icon is only a newer version of the preceding one as it merely changes its form.
A significant aspect of ICONS is Serge Adam's contribution. He composes his music in correlation with Azazi's choreography, building a repetitive and progressive structure through electronic sound and his simultaneous live improvisation with the trumpet. With his subtle movements and physical existence on the stage, as oppose to the usual characteristics of the relationship between the musician and dancer, Serge Adam is very much evident on the stage as a significant element of the choreography.
Another noteworthy element is Lutz Deppe's light design. Deppe plays with the visibility and invisibility of the figures as well as depth and characteristics of the stage through his subtle light and shadow conception supporting the icons to be built and deconstructed throughout the continuous presence of the performers on the stage.
Through the choreography, music and the distinct colours of the skirts that are reinforced by the lighting, the body is represented here within dilemmas of individual and social aspect of life for being simultaneously sophisticated and vigorous organisms in relation to the notions of ritual, tradition, and religion.