ANIKAYA: Conference of Birds
"Conference of the Birds" is an evening-length movement theater work by ANIKAYA, conceived and directed by choreographer Wendy Jehlen. Inspired by the epic poem of Farid Ud din Attar and embodying stories gathered from modern-day refugees and other migrants, Conference symbolizes the journey that we, the diversity that is humanity, take together. It is a story of found community and the necessity of difference, told through a unique movement language.
In the classic Sufi text, "The Conference of the Birds" tells the tale of a group of birds that set off in search of the mythical bird, the Simurgh (Farsi for “thirty birds”). Many of the birds abandon the quest. When the remaining birds arrive in the land of the Simurgh, they find themselves reflected – they are the Simurgh. Recontextualizing this tale illuminates both its historical meanings and our current moment in history, bringing full circle the idea that human history is a history of movement, mingling and entanglements.
This ensemble is made up of dancers from around the world who share a culture of travel, and who each represent a unique cultural tradition. Collaborating dancers include artists from Benin, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, India / South Africa, Japan, Turkey, and the US. The dancers were selected for their individual artistry and cultural expertise, their individual life stories, and for their interest in and facility with intercultural collaboration.