(from left) Choreographers Christopher Unpezverde Núñez, Saeed Hani and Tsai Hsi Hung pose next to Jonathan Hollander, artistic Director of Battery Dance.
Interview with Saeed Hani for the program:
What inspired you about Hans Hofmann’s abstract works “The Wind” and “Olive Grove”?
When I looked at Hans Hofmann’s paintings, these two pieces caught me. First, in the painting “The Wind” there is chaos and mystery. Second, as a Syrian, I am very connected to an olive grove. That’s where we play as children. We’re hiding toys and running around. There were generations of children in that grove. But if I look now, there are no children playing. Now it is destroyed. The olive grove became the wind. So the title of my work is “The Wind in the Olive Grove”
When you came to New York in April to work with Battery Dance, how did you start the creative process?
These dancers are so physically strong. But everyone is vulnerable at times. I asked them to connect with being children and show some movement from their childhood. Be that child in the olive grove.
It sounds like you’re also working with peace imagery. Olive trees are slow-growing and need long periods without war, yes?
Yes. The olive grove needs peace, and I wish the entire world would have time to grow an olive grove. The world is connected, but we still have war in so many places.
In Syria now, ten-year-old boys are speaking like old men. They are forced to be older. They do not speak about playing. They talk about how to dig in the ground to get potatoes or sticks for a fire.
What do you hope the audience takes away after seeing “The Wind in the Olive Grove”?
I’m trying to stick to the abstract. Abstract paintings allow you to imagine and to see it your way. I want to keep it open.