Choreographed & Performed by Zahra Banzi.
Premiered in the 48 Stunden Neukölln Festival June, 2016.
In an increasingly globalized society we are often faced with questions of identity and belonging as we travel and live in differing cultural landscapes. When remaining in our native countries we are often confronted with these same questions as our landscapes shift with the immigration of peoples, bringing with them their culture, language, and religion. As our habitats transform over time, our personal identities adjust as well. Sometimes drawing us closer to our cultural beginnings, sometimes expanding our ideas of self to include the cultures which exist around us. This evolution of our cultural environment, as well as our inner identities, is often a tense, uncomfortable, and chaotic process. Immigrant / Expat explores this phenomenon on a personal level from the point of view of the emigrants, and in turn allows the audience to question the shifting of their own cultural identities and how they relate to those integrating into their respective societies. How do we maintain a sense of self as the environment around us changes? How do our cultural identities transform when assimilating in a new environment? How do we connect with those joining our society? What human components do we share?
Immigrant / Expat examines the wordage we use to divide and alienate migrants based on their country of origin. A solo dance work set to two amalgamated interviews, one of an “Immigrant” from Albania, and another of an “Expat” from the UK makes use of two inherently human elements: the body, and the voice. The work begins with sounds of field recorded freight trains as the dancer meticulously folds paper airplanes out maps and aims them at the corner of the space. A pile emerges, and the voices of two men drown out the trains as they tell their stories. Movement vocabularies are built on the words of the speakers which are both visceral and brute but at times become gestural embodying the syntax of their stories. In contrast with dance traditionally set to music, Immigrant / Expat is danced solely to the voices of these differing characters in an almost documentary style movement piece. This portrait of the needs, dreams, and frustrations of an “Immigrant” and an “Expat” as they traverse their new lives in Berlin questions the validity of these differing terms and the fluidity of the immigrator’s cultural identity.