In collaboration with the performers, Frode Fjellheim has created the yoiks and the music for this performance which premiered in Harstad in June 2021.
Premiere at the Arctic Arts Festival
This year's opening performance takes the audience on a dance yoik walk in Harstad. Through dance and yoik, we reflect the force of being united and being aware of the earth we stand on and share.
The performance starts outdoors and takes the audience on a walk that ends up on the main stage in the Harstad cultural house. The audience and performers move like a large crowd and thus the audience is part of the performance.
The theme of the performance is man's relationship to nature and man as nature.
The 7 female performers on stage are renowned dancers, yoikers and singers. The musical expression in the performance is polyphonic yoik composed by yoik professor Frode Fjellheim. The yoik is a key element in the performance and the performers will both yoik and dance.
Elle Sofe's approach and choreographic language make her one of the most interesting choreographers of her generation. She manages to present hyper-local themes in a way that is experienced universally.
ELLE SOFE SARA
NRK thought this about the show:
Elle Sofe Sara - Festival profile and Artistic Director/Choreographer
Frode Fjellheim - Composer
Sara Marielle Gaup Beaska - Yoiker
Kajsa Balto - Yoiker
Olga-Lise Holmen - Singer
Grete Daling - Singer
Julie Moviken - Dancer
Emilie Marie Karlsen - Dancer
Nora Svenning - Dancer
Alexandra Wingate - Co-Choreographer
Ramona Salo - Costumes
Elin Melberg - Scenography
Øystein Heitmann - Lighting Design
Thomas Schaupp - Playwright
Håkon Pettersen - Sound
Ingvild Kristin Kirkvik - Stage Manager
The NRK review in writing:
This year's theme for The Arctic Arts Festival is contemporary and flammable. "Who has the right to narrate history?" the festival asks, the festival profile Elle Sofe Sara takes them at their word.
The opening performance "Vástádus eana- The answer is land" is a clear picture of that. On the docks outside the Harstad cultural house seven female performers are standing, each dressed in a different variant of the cap beloning to the Sami national costume. With face masks and megaphones they create various formations while yoiking and holding the megaphones up high.
This is a moment where the fights of indigenous people meet the women's fight and the fight of the arts against the pandemic. This is almost as tense as it can be.
A rare unison
The performance was originally presented as a dancing yoik wandering in Harstad. The audience were to join a walk which would end at the Harstad cultural house. But the near one hundred meters between the dance spot outside the The Arctic University of Norway and the entrance of the cultural house never feel like wandering, although the audience is definetely yoiked into the building.
It does not matter after all. Because what happens in the Harstad cultural house is a unique and quite special cultural experience from an ensemble in rare unison.
The inherent possibilities of yoik
Elle Sofe Sara is a choreographer, movie maker and dancer. Among other things, she is creating Norway's very first Sami feature film in a musical format. As a festival profile in Harstad she has created a performance which uses both sounds and movements, a dance show in the strong and soft sound wrappings of the inherent possibilties of yoik.
Composer and professor of yoik, Frode Fjellheim, expands the experience of what yoik might be with the compositions he has created for "Vástádus eana - The answer is land". Fjellheim unites different traditions of yoik with completely new compositions.
The two prominent vocalists Sara Marielle Gaup Beaska and Kajsa Balto each embrace the yoik in their own way. And especially the compositions where Balto may rest in the rich vocal sound from the other singers almost make time stop for a few moments.
Fjellheim is experienced in expanding yoik into a broader expression, for instance through the Transjoik band. He also composed music for the Disney "Frost" movies 1 and 2.
Their own story
At the beginning the stage is swamped in a light that makes all colors disappear. Everything on stage is like in an old, yellow photography. The scenography, consisting of various textiles hanging from tree trunks in a forest, is placed in a somewhat narrow formation at the back of the stage.
All performers yoik, and they all take part in the different collective movements. The three dancers headed by Emilie Marie Karlsen tell their own story. It starts with a restrained, almost faltering dance sequence (Karlsen), where the great collective gradually catches up with her. Karlsen's role in this performance is clear and strong.
While the musical sound continually expand, a notion of unity springs forth. It is driven by the music, the dance and a coalescent collective on stage.
The stage light is gradually changed so the colors of the caps and the scenography become visible. At the same time the unity appears as a phenomenon that expands on stage and becomes culturally encompassing. There are traces of Russian tradition in the musical arrangements and there is also Skolte Sami yoiking.
«Vástádus eana – The answer is land» is a dynamic performance, especially the part that happens inside.
The performance is equal, meaning that all the parts of the performance are perceived to be of equal importance in the story told.
Even if the title says that the answer is land"Vástádus eana" is also about something more and larger. It is about what a home may be, and the answer lies in the importance of community. Where your flock is, that's where your home is.
The festival profile Elle Sofe Sara has something to gain from developing the outdoor seance which introduces the performance, because it carries the potential to become just as significant as the part presented on the stage inside.
"Vástádue eana - The answer is land" should be seen by a large audience. When more normal times arrive, I sincerely hope that people seize the unique possibility Elle Sofe Sara offers: A small all evening event of sonorous magic.