NIA WA JA SHU (vingt deux sīdə un ôrɡə) (2017)

NIA WA JA SHU (vingt deux sīdə un ôrɡə)  (2017)

Commissioned by Rajon Miller 

Choreography by Rajon Miller
Music by Peter Michael von der Nahmer
Text by Tatiana Wechsler

Premiered: May 3, 2017; New York University, Tisch Dance

Other performances:

    • May 5, 2017; New York University, Tisch Dance

About: NIA WA JA SHU was created in collaboration with choreographer Rajon Miller. Rajon provided Mike and me with some initial themes, ideas, and words, such as revolution, changing norms, superhero, journey, growth, fear, and joy. From there, Mike composed the music, which includes four movements. In our initial discussion, Rajon expressed that he wanted the words for the most part to be nonhuman or a non-language. When I heard the music that Mike had written, it kept making me think of Swahili, a language I do not speak, but one that my mother, who is Congolese, is fluent in. So I decided to create word clusters based on the themes of the movements, i.e. barren present life, and then I got the Swahili translations of those words. I then used different parts of each of the words and rearranged them to create new sounds and words that were no longer the original words. An example in English would be, if the word cluster were „before tomorrow fades,“ the new version could be „morfad berow.“ My goal with this was to create sounds that would have a meaning behind them but ultimately be unintelligible. We also decided that it would be interesting if as the piece went on, parts of the words began to be intelligible, so in the later movements, English and the new language are interwoven. We had a small choir of singers, and we rehearsed with the dancers. At that stage, a few edits were made, and pronunciations of the language agreed upon.

– Tatiana Wechsler