Jeannette Ziady, lecturer at the Department of Performing Arts (Dance) and accomplished performing artist (dancer), added her skill to a thought-provoking film production, titled Dark Light, which carries a poignant message about gender-based violence. The production, hailed as riveting and powerful, comes at a time of horrific numbers of female victims of rape, murder by intimate partners, beatings and other forms of physical abuse throughout the world. But, it offers a message of hope.

With this production, by composer Vivek Parshotam, the commitment of all the disciplines involved was towards revealing the inclination of violent masculinity in global society, and to give a voice to women amid society’s overwhelming lack of response and consequence for perpetrators.

Jeannette says she has always been inspired by stories of the human experience, especially those that exemplify the resiliency of the human spirit. She’s handled topics, ranging from civil war to slavery in her creative narratives.

It was during the One Spirit Festival 2019, a performance platform created by Tribhangi Dance Theatre, that a unique connection was to be made.

When Vivek approached Jeannette to work on the Dark Light project at the time, she didn’t hesitate for one moment. “This is an important message. This is why I do what I do.”

Every aspect of lighting, staging, soundtrack and movement was crafted collaboratively until the final shoot. The team, each passionate and committed to the message it conveys, contributed to its success.

For Jeannette, it was almost effortless to bring the music to life with the incredible intricacies of Vivek’s playing and musical arrangement, complemented by heart cries of Maithili Shome’s magical, soulful voice.

“The soundscape provided such a wonderful platform upon which to build! Creating the duet with male dancer, Martin van Heerden, proved to be challenging in the sense that it would have been choreographically easy to depict a literal, verbatim portrayal of abuse, but wanted to avoid,” says Jeannette. “This aspect required a sensitive weaving together of the accounts of three women interviewed, who suffered personally at the hand of physical, emotional, verbal and sexual abuse. In the end, it proved a central part of this work, really capturing the vision of the direction of the project,” she adds.

This production offers a message of hope. Culminating in the free movement and eventual release of the red cloth, the work symbolises the eventuality that women are magnificently (albeit tragically) resilient, and that there is hope for all searching for freedom, healing and restoration.

For a preview of the production, please click here

Scenes from Dark Light featuring TUT Dance lecturer, Jeannette Ziady.

Images courtesy of the Director: ‘Behind the scenes’