Ordinary Witnesses

Co-Presented with the French Institute Alliance Française’s Crossing the Line Festival

Pre-Show Talk Oct 11 at 6:30pm with Carla Peterson, Simon Dove, and Lili Chopra
Post-Show Talk Oct 12 with Rachid Ouramdane and Larry Siems

Rachid Ouramdane with his company of performers explores the effects of a violent past on people’s bodies and minds in this sublime and poetic new work. Based on extensive conversations with survivors of torture, Rachid Ouramdane portrays this violence as a withdrawal from humanity. Rachid Ouramdane probes the limitations of representing barbarity and explores how the body can transform itself in the extremes of endurance. He shares portraits of those who have experienced the unimaginable so that their suffering is not forgotten, and highlights the repeated use of violence at a time when torture appears to be tolerated and even used legitimately on the global stage. Ordinary Witnesses is a moving testimony to the extraordinary power of the human spirit.

Post Show Talk:
“What is the nature of the gap between personal experience and official history?” Rachid Ouramdane writes in his artist's notes for “Ordinary Witnesses.” “What can dance do that history books can't?” Following the performance on October 12, Ouramdane joins Larry Siems for a conversation about art, activism, and history. Siems is the Director of Freedom to Write and International Programs at PEN American Center, which is co-producing the “Reckoning With Torture” national film project with director Doug Liman and the ACLU (the American Civil Liberties Union); and the author of the forthcoming The Torture Report: What the Documents Say about America's Post-9/11 Torture Program. Together, they will explore the role the arts can play in confronting the legacies of torture.

Crossing the Line, the annual fall festival of the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), is conceived as a platform to present vibrant new works by a diverse range of significant transdisciplinary artists working on both sides of the Atlantic. It is initiated and produced by FIAF in partnership with leading New York cultural institutions.

Rachid Ouramdane's performance is funded in part by FUSED: French U.S. Exchange in Dance, a program of the National Dance Project/New England Foundation for the Arts and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York, with lead funding from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the French American Cultural Exchange and the Florence Gould Foundation.

Additional support for the presentation of World Fair was provided by French American Cultural Exchange (FACE).