BWW Interview: Ana Isabel Ordonez Discusses her Writing Process and the Unsung Heroes Award Presentation in South Africa in November 2016
THE AYE is adapted from Ana Isabel Ordonez's THE EXTRAORDINARY LOVE STORY OF AYE AYE AND FEDOR. The choreography came together in a sparkling fusion of music, dance and narration, which was performed on 7 October 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa, by Jazzart Dance Theatre, with Sifiso Kweyama as choreographer. The show honoured Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, in celebration of his 85th birthday, and with the opening choreography for the annual Peace Conference in Cape Town. This was the world premiere of the show. Then on 15 November, a second event, the Leah Tutu Unsung Heroes Award, took place outside Cape Town. In Part I of this interview, Ordonez gives us a glimpse into her next project and the elaborate process her brilliant mind goes through in its organisation and execution. In Part II, she discusses the second event in detail.
I. ANA ISABEL ORDONEZ: THE WAY BEYOND WORDS
Ana Isabel Ordonez: A gigantic play is what I'm concentrating on right now. The experiences I'm now developing on a big project and poetry are a tour de force unleashing of the sundry story-myths-truths-tragic-fatal-magic of what life could have.
It's undimmed like star galaxies. I'm learning new things based on true life, which is more than a collection of poems; it is an unloading of reality. One poem tells the poet what to record next, and in this way, the book takes the author on a trip. It's revealing to me that a rhymer doesn't write a real story, the story itself rewrites the rhymer.
I have always had an extraordinary faith in my destiny. I can be beaten, broken in pieces either inside or outside, stopped a thousand times; it's all stimulating to me because nobody can catch my spirit, my freedom and powerful will of being what I really am. I'll be there where I want to be and at my pace. I'm letting the story be what it wants to be, let it tear me apart, let it metamorphose me evermore. Emptiness changing into things: letting the sun rise on my work of art doesn't matter when, it can be at day or night, but I sure write my ass off. Returning to true Nature, letting myrmidon be stemma. The pages of a rotten old book are gone, they were not to be read at all so there should be a new one, I'm seeing new things, nothing here, nothing there, no boundaries, no differences, no measurements. They are gracious who are asking for me to let them in, even if I don't understand how or why they are knocking at my doors.
Grappling with the ethereal and transcendent in light of the Human condition is pivotal in Art and Science; its mandatory to mainly focus on the concept of authenticity, what makes things right or wrong; the "this or that" of the normal life is a little wearisome for me so the pages I threw away help me to explore the idea of "lost," "saved," and everything in-between.
Faith without religiosity is very important, that's what brought me to South Africa. Being authentic believers of ourselves first is more important than being a blind believer in faith. Someone I love and admire said he always was "at the other side of the rail" which for me has been "at the other side of the river" - that is where I have found myself and those who love me: the fence riders. (Smiling.) They believe but don't do what they're told; from them, I get inspired and I don't give a damn about how inconclusive and ambiguous they are. Infinitely small is infinitely large.
I feel so grateful to experience a time when artists from across the world can gather to create a very tangible performance of art, poetry, music, and dance whenever we feel. Like children: we created imagining worlds together, and it feels like falling in love again, but without getting into compliances. (Laughing loud.)
Art and Science are very special but don't make us human; it stimulates us to act humanely. Art, however, is the place where we are allowed to wane at wanting better. There is no winning or success in this space, only a chance for growth. If you don't understand your history, every day tear away the page of the old book and write your own story beautiful, pure and sincere, reborn again, you can do anything when you are sincere, and that includes all kinds of quirkiness! (Laughing.)
II. THE UNSUNG HEROES OF LEAH & Desmond Tutu
Now let's talk about the Leah Tutu Unsung Heroes Award, what do you want me to tell you?
Don Grigware: Explain the Unsung Heroes event. What happens? Who is honoured?
AIO: The Leah Tutu Unsung Heroes Award commemorates a legacy in South Africa. The Unsung Hero is a South African character who has made a meaningful contribution to the community through their acts of service, their commitment to a cause, their spirit of Ubuntu, and their exemplary persona.
DG: How is the person chosen? Who decides?
AIO: It's Mama Leah and her team, so the Leah and Desmond Tutu Foundation. Last November, 2016, Mrs Gawa Sayed was awarded with the Leah Tutu Unsung Heroes Award for her extraordinary service to the community through her voluntary work at Gift of the Givers which is Africa's largest humanitarian relief organisation.
The award was presented to Ms Sayed by the Revered Mpho Tutu Van Furth of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, at an event in De Grendel Wine and Restaurant an award-winning South African wine farm and restaurant, situated in Durbanville Wine Route, only 20 minutes from Cape Town.
Ms Sayed is a key member of Gift of the Givers, she was instrumental in leading relief efforts during the xenophobia crisis; renovating and replenishing the Sarah Fox Children's Convalescent Hospital; managing and maintaining feeding schemes around Cape Town; helping at the Athlone School for the Blind with renovation as well as establishing the Cape Peninsula University of Technology's emergency medical services projects in Lwandle, Strand; and building housing units after the New Year's shack fires in Khayelitsha township as well as the building of a village constructed with 71 houses in Alexandra, Johannesburg. Yeap - Mrs Sayed is a high soul.
DG: Who usually attends the ceremony?
AIO: The invitations are issued by the Desmond and Leah Tutu legacy.
DG: Explain what the audience saw of your choreography.
AIO: They saw a new version of THE AYE, choreographed by Sifiso Kweyama. The show was beyond delightful, not simply because of the magic that is dance, but because of the amazing people involved in the project. The performance was held in a beautiful vineyard estate with gardens and a wonderful decoration. Sifiso came up with an idea for performance art, the dancers were wearing our masks some of them are made with beautiful local feathers.
The idea for the performance was my first glimpse into Sifiso's wildly creative spirit. As the time progressed, the encouragement of Dean Jacobs of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation was inspirational and continues to impact me personally. Sifiso and the dancers worked tirelessly and when the day came for the performance they did get some fascinating photographs. The one here is of Fedor and Aye Aye looking fantastic and greeting Reverend Mpho's arrival to the ceremony. The choreography was totally engaging and smart as well as evocative. I wanted to share my work with others, give this present to Monseigneur Tutu and Mama Leah. It was an unexpected fusion becoming spontaneous combustion of matter turning into energy and movement.
DG: How long was the presentation and was it successful?
AIO: It was a 15 or a little bit more say 20-minute presentation - people loved it! One was all, all was one. When you see things like this, you are already complete!