Stabat Mater | The Latin Hymns translated into choreographic language

Rita Borga

Do you know Stabat Mater, one of the greatest Latin Hymns of all times?
During Bmotion Dance 2016, four choreographers, Giorgia NardinYoko HigashinoMélanie Demers and Yasmeen Godder, were invited to build a performance on this melting masterpiece.

It was a commissioned work performed in three different little deconsecrated churches, and probably something that they would have never done by themselves because so far from their usual artistic path.

That’s why it was interesting to see how they got themselves into the game, integrating their work with some personal aspects – the experience of losing a beloved one. They went ahead in the research of female icons – a process previously developed in other works of theirs – disrupting the sacrality of the Hymn trough a “pop” glance, or again developing it into human “deposition” like the Deposition of Christ depicted in art.


Yasmeen Godder: « Stabat Mater into people’s arms»

Did you ever expect to be moved during a performance of Yasmeen Godder? I didn’t.
But I did, and like myself many other people. Godder’s Stabat Mater has been a real surprise. I never expected from the choregrapher something so delicate and moving. Her vocabulary is usually unsparing, out of control, a concentration of provocation and aggressive movement, a beastly imagery. And her surreal hilarity devours the scene throwing the audience into chaos.

But her Stabat Mater was unbelievable. She created with simplicity a relationship between the religious message and the artistic expression, involving the public into a deep e intimate layer, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Her work was an interactive action which has developed with Shuli EnoshDor FrankAyala FrenkelUri ShafirAri Teperberg and Ofir Yudilevitch, all the dancers who we saw in the other work, «Common Emotions», also on the stage during Bmotion.
And we can say that this Stabat Mater is a new investigation on what inspired the previous work: «What makes us take part into a social cerimony?» «In what way can a performance, intended as a shared experience, influence our relationships with others?».

In the beautiful “Oratorio Ca’ Erizzo” church we were part of a shared “Deposition”, like the deposition of Christ depicted in art. We were all, including Yasmeen Godder, sitting inside the church backs to the wall so as to open a circle, waiting only to be inhabited. One by one, at different times, the dancers stood up and went to one of the spectators who was asked to support the weight of their body until laying it down on the ground.
After taking care of the body, everyone took his place and could choose whether and when to make the same request to someone else.

There was no longer the separation of roles, between performer and audience, perhaps there was no longer any show, because we were part of something more.
Every request, every body on the floor drew a secret story. And another one was visible in the eyes of those who watched. Mothers deposed their children, their father or mother or brother; sons their mothers, fathers or brothers. In the circle there were the bodies whole family constellations. And the weight of the body became a metaphor of sin, grief, weight of life and soul.

But the sight of those bodies on the ground, sometimes in broken form, sometimes carefully ordered, eyes turned upwards as if they were conversing with the fresco “Adulterous Woman” on the ceiling, or closed in the silence, also recalled the images of the many bodies that, in these years, have been seen lifeless on the sea shores, or that only a few weeks ago lay under the weight of their homes.

Many of us had shivers and tears in the eyes. And the moment we were part of was even more touching because of the musician and vocalist Tomer Damsky, who performed a special live version on the Hymn, playing also an harmonium.

At the exit, many of us felt we had to thank for what we, more or less secretly, had been part of.

by Rita Borga