Crystallising into flesh and feathers | Marie-Kieser Nielsen and Francesca Zammit

Selected by a jury of international guests, a dance performance that challenged sexual taboos and gender norms. TEODOR RELJIC speaks to Marie-Kieser Nielsen and Francesca Zammit, choreographers behind the ‘Cock and a Feather’ segment of the performance

Rehearsal shots from A Box, A Cock & A Feather. Photos by Jacob Sammut
Rehearsal shots from A Box, A Cock & A Feather. Photos by Jacob Sammut

iece of this nature, and how would you say it corresponds to your preoccupations and desires as contemporary dance-makers doing work inMalta?

We proposed this project to the Valletta 2018 Foundation following the launch of a new grant for emerging choreographers. We tailored the themes and the process to the questions and preoccupations that we wish to investigate. Our desire as dance-makers is to question and open up topics for reflection and debate. The themes we explore – small-island mentality, gossip, (self-)censorship and feminism – are all rooted in island life, and are themes that we feel need expression and attention.

What was the process of devising the piece like, and how did its themes solidify into the choreography?

We have been working on this project for many months now, aiming to crystallise our sometimes very cerebral musings into flesh and feathers. We have started from an interest and spent our time in rehearsal sexploring and embodying both abstract themes and specific animal movement patterns. We are working through the medium of dance – collaborating with Luke Cucciardi for music and Giulia Orsi for costumes – to complement the movement and to try and find a common language where all elements can interweave and balance each other with simplicity and clarity.

Do you think that female expressions are lacking in the field of contemporary art in Malta? If so, what would you attribute this to?

Malta seems to have a very strong and versatile base of female artists, both in the field of Performance Art as well as Fine Arts, that are creating work and claiming their space. Wedon’t believe that the gender of the maker should be at the forefront of the production. Infact, our choreography questions the relevance of genitals on a sociocultural level (Penis!)In short, Malta should focus on all contemporary artists rather than just the female ones.

Malta should focus on all contemporary artists rather than just the female ones

What do you make of the dance scene in Malta? What would you change about it?

The dance scene in Malta is quite small, and the contemporary one is young and still somewhat unacknowledged by the general public, and as a result, the difficulties that we feel Maltese artists encounter are those related to identity and autonomous expression. This having been said, in the last years we’ve seen it grow and develop within the community, bringing together people from every background. It is a field which is in riveting development and increasingly demanding attention and support.

A Box, A Cock & A Feather will be staged at the Valletta Campus Theatre at 21:00, and will also contain a piece choreographed by Diane Portelli entitled From Malta With Love. Bookings: The production is supported by the Valletta 2018 Foundation and Zfin Malta, and is rated 18+