International choreographer and dancer, Yumi Umiumare, visits Timor

Internationally recognised Australian-Japanese dancer-choreographer Yumi Umiumare visited Timor-Leste in July 2016 as artist-in-residence with MHI.  Yumi was awarded a prestigious Fellowship by the Australia Council for the Arts (Dance Board) to explore new artistic directions around the ideas of spirit, ritual and magic. This  led to the development of her Pop-Up Tearoom series that has been performed around the world: in Japan, Germany, Czech Republic, Malaysia, Philippines and the recent Festival of Live Arts in Melbourne. Her Tearoom series explores the sort of TEA we can make in a modern world of overwhelming information and choices.

Yumi’s inspiration for this project came from the traditional Japanese tea-ceremony room, which has a small door under which people have to bow to enter and exit. This symbolises the fact that all people are born from, and return to, the same place. The samurai of the medieval period had to leave their sword behind to participate in the ceremony, stripping back the experience to the bare essence of being and soul. As long ago as the 16th century, tearooms were created in war zones, with the tea ceremony functioning to relieve emotional stress and restore social order. The deep sense of presence and silence afforded by the Tearoom offers participants time to reflect, and inspire innovation and new ideas.

In Timor-Leste Yumi sought to observe and learn about Timorese culture, especially ideas around ritual and magic. In Lospalos, she collaborated with MHI staff member Cesario Lourdes and his students to create a site-specific pop-up Tearoom space, inspired by MHI’s goals of offering local communities opportunities for new forms of cultural expression. Yumi and students explored ideas about 'art-as-rubbish' and 'rubbish-as-art'. The TeaRoom added an exotic extra experience to our research launch celebration. Yumi also shared her dance skills with teacher Khey Gandara and young dancers from Sanggar Haburas performing group.

FInd more information about Yumi's work here and her project in Lospalos here

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