Regional Arts Victoria

ARDNA by Assel Tayah & Jason Tamiru

A unique collaboration between creatives Aseel Tayah, who moved to Australia in 2013, and Jason Tamiru from Yorta Yorta country. Ardna (Arabic for “our land”) is a storytelling and dance…

Performances & Gigs

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Performances & Gigs

Belonging | Intercultural Conversation | Reflection

Recipient of the 2021 Joan and Betty Rayner ACTF Commission

A unique collaboration between creatives Aseel Tayah, who moved to Australia in 2013, and Jason Tamiru from Yorta Yorta country. Ardna (Arabic for “our land”) is a storytelling and dance performance exploring physical connection to land. Drawing on both lead artists’ relationships to Country, the work invites us to interrogate and reflect on our connection to land and place through a series of dances, songs and other stories from both middle eastern and Indigenous Australia. The work invites children to think about the part they play in caring for the place where they live, their role in the space they are connected to, and what we can do better to help the land, the people and the intercultural connection between us survive.

Although Aseel and Jason come from very different places, both have a uniquely intimate relationship with land and environment, being from cultures displaced from their homelands.

Ardna will find common ground between the artists’ identities, which are each defined by their lands. The devastating bushfires of 2019 demonstrated the perils of ignoring our land, and times during 2020 in lockdown highlighted the impact of life without the natural worldArdna explores what else we don’t even realise we are missing.

Ardna takes place in any open indoor/outdoor space, which is transformed into an island of bushland. A simple site-specific set evokes both the Australian bushland and the Mediterranean countryside, exploring practices of using the land’s treasures and nature’s gifts, caring and nurturing the land in return, and the healing power of community and collaboration. Stories, poems and songs are shared in multiple languages and dialects, uniting the artists to save their precious home. The performance concludes with the cast and audience participating in a dance that brings the dabke, a traditional dance from Arabic culture performed at gatherings, weddings, protests – any community celebration. The dabke is a line dance connecting traditional Palestinian dance with modern first Nation dance into one place. This act of happiness invites the audience to conclude the show with a message of hope.

Aseel Tayah is a Melbourne-based Palestinian producer, creative director and cultural leader who uses her practice to advocate for artists of colour, mothers, children and young people, “changing the world, one project at a time.” She has recently been described as “an unstoppable force in the Australian cultural landscape.” As a creative director and installation artist, Aseel has a wide range of experience. International highlights include We Too Want To Play, the establishment of Palestine’s first network of toy libraries and Fingerprint of an Arab Girl, a yearlong program showcasing the talents and achievements of girls living under occupation. In Australia, collaborations include unique intercultural experiences such as Tahlila -Lullabies Under the Stars, an Arabic/First Nations work for children, and the participatory installation Bukjeh, exploring stories of home and being forced to leave it. Aseel exemplifies the use of art and creativity to achieve social justice, and is renowned for her kindness, optimism and generosity.

Jason Tamiru is a proud Yorta Yorta man passionate about his people and culture. He has worked with many of Melbourne’s most iconic performing arts companies, museums and festivals. As a producer he supports his people’s creativity by building frameworks that complement cultural expressions. Jason is influenced by anything and everything that stimulates his spirit and soul, and he works to inspire the same passion amongst his community and peers.

For more information, visit Regional Arts Victoria