Harvard College Pakistan Students Association & Harvard Pakistan Student Group Win Accolades

“Guardian of archetypes.” – Dance Magazine

"Gorgeous." -- The Boston Herald

"Bravissima." -- La Tribuna, Italy

"Magic." -- Hindustan, India

"Wendy Jehlen is a captivating choreographer, with sharp musical sensibilities, an affinity for the natural integration of modern and world dance styles, and a deep sensitivity to the connections between human body movements and moods." - Backstage.com

On Friday, April 12, Harvard College Pakistan Students Association in collaboration with Harvard Pakistani Students Group presented ANIKAI Dance Theater in “He Who Burns,” directed by Wendy Jehlen.

He Who Burns has been performed in Boston, New York City at Dance Theater Workshop and at the Kennedy Center for the Arts in Washington, DC. It is an exploration through dance, text and music of the figure of Iblis, Satan, as understood in some Sufi traditions.  Through this lens, the dance-theater piece explores the nature of humanity's relationship with the divine, the eternal quest for unity and the illusion of duality in the human experience.

Staged as a trio, He Who Burns takes us on a journey from the time before time, through the suffering of Iblis in his separation from his Beloved and his quest for the same, through to his ecstatic annihilation.  The performance at once parallels the Sufi quest, as outlined in the great Sufi text, “Conference of the Birds,” and the structure of the Bharata Natyam performance.  The text, from the Persian, Arabic and Urdu of Al-Hallaj, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Mohammed Iqbal, Farid ud-din Attar, Hafiz and Maulana Jelaluddin Rumi, is performed in Urdu, English and Korean.

Sponsors: Harvard University Asia Center, Harvard South Asia Institute, Harvard Alwaleed Islamic Studies Program, Harvard South Asian Law Students Association, Indispensable Communications, and Justice Project Pakistan.

The Director: Wendy Jehlen’s (director/choreographer/performer) unique approach to movement incorporates elements of a wide range of dance styles including Bharata Natyam, Odissi and Kuchipudi, which she has studied for thirty years in India and the US; Capoeira, Kalaripayattu, West African dance, Butoh, and American and European Modern and Contemporary dance styles. Jehlen’s work has been performed throughout the United States, Europe, India and in Japan. She received her BA with honor from Brown University and her Master’s of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School.

Her past works include Forest (2010), a glimpse into unpredictable world of the woods; The Moth (2007), commissioned by the Jahan-e-Khusrau festival in Delhi; He Who Burns (2006), a trio on the figure of Iblis (Satan); Dragon (2005), based on a Japanese folk tale about a girl who becomes a water dragon; Breathing Space (2003), a collaboration with Japanese choreographer Hikari Baba in Tokyo; Crane (2002), based on images from Japanese Buddhist poetry; Haaaa (2002), inspired by the experience of childbirth; Job 10 (1999), based on the tenth chapter of the Book of Job of the Hebrew Bible; and Becoming Fire (1998), an evening-length work exploring texts from the Sufi traditions of Iran and South Asia.

Another important element of Jehlen’s work is collaboration with Deaf performers and poets. She uses both the language and aesthetic of American Sign Language poetry in her choreography, often collaborating with Deaf artists in the creation of bi-cultural works. This year, Jehlen is embarking on a multi-year visual/kinetic theater collaboration with the theater and dance departments of National Technical Institute for the Deaf and Gallaudet University. She is also working on a similar project with the Theater Arts and Performance Studies program and the Center for Language Studies at Brown University, where she currently teaches.

 

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