MIAF 2019 – Where The Sea is the Stage

Indulge in some sea-side performances this week with Malta’s most significant raw material – the Mediterranean Sea – as their backdrop.

We often take the Mediterranean Sea for granted. The azure surroundings that form part of our everyday lives are always there for us to enjoy, especially during the summer months. Now, thanks to Ruben Zahra, artistic director of the 14th edition of the Malta International Arts Festival (MIAF), the Mediterranean is playing a starring role in this year’s Festival.

The enticing and diverse repertoire of performances lined up by Zahra includes a series of music/dance double-bill events set on a Turkish gulet. This sailing vessel will act as a floating stage; sailing into different ports around the island against a plethora of different backdrops and reaching out to myriad communities – a notion that is undoubtedly pushing the envelope of innovation, as part of Zahra’s uncompromising vision for MIAF 2019.

Let’s take a look at some of the ones taking place this week

Silk’n Beats/Tempesta

Silk’n Beats is an award-winning collaboration between two Maltese, London-based musicians, combining the sounds of Nadine Galea – a classically-trained electric violinist, with those of Dana McKeon – a chart-topping artist performing simultaneous vocal percussion, singing, and acoustic guitar.

Silk’n Beats brings style, class, and surprise to an exciting and memorable live show. Both performers merge their individual artistry, creating unique arrangements. Their performance will provide a mix of timeless rock, movie, and dance classics with a very unique twist, showcasing the virtuosity and versatility of both performers.

‘Tempesta’ is a dance narrative duet. At its helm, Abel Hernández is Spanish dancer based in Malta. He is only just starting out as choreographer, a move that has always attracted him. He has crafted a duet performance and is working hand-in-hand with two amazingly talented dancers, Emma Walker and Keith Micallef. Using the element of contemporary dance as the main tool of expression, audiences to this show will see a journey of love and pain develop – the struggles of love and the effort to overcome them.

Dwar Bahhara, Hut u Pirati/Message in a Bottle

Luc Houtkamp is a Dutch composer and musician who moved to Malta five years ago. He professes to being very interested in Maltese history and culture and quite a bit of his recent work is about the island. So much so that ‘Dwar Bahhara, Hut u Pirati’ is a piece about Malta’s relationship with the sea. It is based on the many Maltese proverbs and expressions that are related to the sea. ‘Dwar Bahhara, Hut u Pirati’ will also feature actress Isabel Warrington, who will read five short poems by poet Antoine Cassar based on these same proverbs.

This will be followed by Pamela Kerr and Kostas Papamatthaiakis, an artistic duo that came together in 2016. ‘Message in a Bottle’ is a 20-minute contemporary dance performance they have created and will perform together, in collaboration with dramaturg Simone Spiteri, with live music by Farid Zodan.

8 Winds/Minn Taħt l-Ilsien

‘8 Winds’ is an electronic concept album composed by electronic musician, producer, and DJ Dr. Zicotron, in collaboration with guitarist Glen Montanaro and sound designer Aleksandar Bundalo. The album will be released later in 2019, after being premiered at the MIAF. The live performance also features contemporary dance choreography by Lynne Salomone Reynaud (Dance Hub Malta).  Inspired by the most ancient and crucial natural element for seafaring vessels, ‘8 Winds’ explores the contrasting rhythms, tones and character of each distinct wind surrounding the Maltese islands.

Image: Neils Plotard, The Amber Spark

Then, in ‘Minn Taħt l-Ilsien’, we meet Florinda Camilleri – a dance practitioner and co-director of The Amber Spark creative studio, who will be performing an intimate solo. This will be in collaboration with choreographer Lucía Piquero, sound and lighting designer Niels Plotard, author and dramaturg Professor Michael Zammit, voice-over artist Ruth Borg, and costume designer Karolina Rostkowska.

‘Minn Taħt l-Ilsien’ is based on Prof Zammit’s book of incantations, ‘Għana ‘l hena’. The incantations will be brought to life through sound and movement, taking the audience on a unique passage through Maltese language, philosophy, and contemporary dance theatre.

Silk’n Beats/Tempesta; Dwar Bahhara, Hut u Pirati/Message in a Bottle; and 8 Winds/Minn Taħt l-Ilsien are supported by the Valletta Cultural Agency (VCA). Tickets are now available. To view the full programme of the Malta International Arts Festival 2019, please visit www.festivals.mt/miaf or www.facebook.com/MaltaArtsFestival/

Paula Fleri-Soler

Paula has a pedigree in TV and stage production (children's and family entertainment) and a passion for the arts. She's taken the reins on The Artists' Directory - Malta and the relevant content for the site.

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