House of Strength

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‘Due to the occupation with men, women and ‘queer’ dancers, the choreography takes on the character of a courageous act of protest and resistance. Tehran's ‘long arm’ could even hit Morowatian. Thus, given her birthplace, House of Strength becomes not only a bold statement for 'queerness' but also a political statement.'

- Eric Korsten, Scènes
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House of Strength is a spiritual, physical, and musical performance where the versatility of man is celebrated. The choreography transforms an ancient ritual, originally from Persia, into contemporary inclusive dance that celebrates the power of the collective.

Traditionally, the Varzesh-e bastani (old or traditional sport) or Varzesh-e Pahlevani (heroes sport) in Iran is performed in an arena in the Zurkaneh, which literally means ‘House of Strength’. The aim of the ritual is to become a better person by a combination of power training, spirituality, poetry, and music. It is performed exclusively by men in public.

In House of Strength, five female, male and queer performers take over. They transform a gymnastically one-sided tradition into a compelling physical expression of inclusive contemporary dance. In harmony, the dancers encourage each other in who they are and also celebrate the power of the collective.

House of Strength went into premiere in Korzo The Hague in May 2023 as part of the CaDance Festival.

Concept and choreography: Roshanak Morrowatian (in collaboration with the performers)
Performers: Sjaan Flikweert, Liah Frank, Reza Mirabi, Roshanak Morrowatian, Deion Simon, Vainergill Thurnim
Dramaturgy: Nicole Geertruida
Music: Rutger Zuydervelt
Foreword: Reza Mirabi
Set: Davy van Gerven
Costumes: Antoine Peters
Light design: Loes Schakenbos
Photography and art direction: Afagh Morrowatian
Artistic coach: Suzy Blok
Trainee set design: Isa Kasten

Production: Stichting Rover
Coproduction: ICK Dans Amsterdam/Artist Space, Korzo, VIA ZUID, Parkstad Limburg Theaters
Grants: Provincie Limburg, Fonds Podiumkunsten, Fonds voor Cultuurparticipatie
Acquisition: CASC
Special thanks to: DOX