Jen Shyu’s Solo Rites: Seven Breaths directed by Garin Nugroho
Jen Shyu: Composition, vocals, dance, Taiwanese moon lute, piano, gayageum
Garin Nugroho: Director
Danang Pamungkas: Choreographer
Kristen Robinson: Set & Props Designer
Solomon Weisbard: Original Lighting Designer
Ghia Javaqueen / Kristin Isola: Costume Designers
Sonic, visual, and visceral rites and reflections upon pilgrimage throughout Taiwan, East Timor, Indonesia (Java, Bali, Bandung, Kalimantan), Vietnam, and South Korea. Using multiple tools of expression in multiple languages (new improvised languages as well as existing ones including Indonesian, Javanese, Taiwanese, indigenous Taiwanese languages, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Tetum, Korean), this solo performance—that of a woman living simultaneously in multiple cultures and “projecting her ancestry” (Val-Inc) through contemporary monologue—will reveal a personal journey of loss and redemption made universal, giving voice to the silenced. These losses reflect crises now plaguing these lands: the loss of voices found in traditional music and shaman rituals; the loss of habitat and wildlife and thus the linked ancient cosmology; and finally, the loss of public space, such as the submission of traditional markets and forests to malls and coal mines. These issues will be explored in performance through sound, movement, and fieldwork footage, creating a land-sound-scape which will serve to transport and transform both the performer and audience, leading to shared revelation and recovery from past sorrow. Prolific, uncompromising, and most renowned Indonesian film and stage director Garin Nugroho (Opera Jawa, Under the Tree, Daun di Atas Bantal) will direct Shyu’s solo ritual, breathing into the work his distinctive vision for celebrating the exhilarating and sacred bond between tradition and modernity.
Born in Peoria, Illinois, USA, from Taiwanese and East Timorese parents, 2014 Doris Duke Impact Award recipient JEN SHYU is an experimental jazz vocalist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, producer, and Fulbright scholar. Larry Blumenfeld (Wall Street Journal) writes, “…Ms. Shyu is among New York’s most invigorating vocal presences. And perhaps the most enigmatic.” She has produced five albums as a leader: For Now, Jade Tongue, Inner Chapters, Raging Waters and Red Sands, and is the first female artist and vocalist as bandleader on the Pi Recordings label with the widely praised album Synastry with legendary bassist Mark Dresser. After graduating from Stanford University, she became the vocalist of 2014 MacArthur Genius Award saxophonist Steve Coleman’s Five Elements from 2003 to 2011 and has presented her own music at Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Bimhuis (Netherlands), Salihara Theater (Indonesia), National Gugak Center, and National Theater of Korea, to name a few. She has also performed with Dave Burrell, Chris Potter, Michael Formanek, Mat Maneri, among others, and in Anthony Braxton’s operas Trillium E and Trillium J.
Known for her specialization in lesser known and disappearing traditional musical forms in Taiwan, Korea, China, and East Timor, Shyu studied Javanese Sindhenan and dance for two years on a Fulbright scholarship in Indonesia 2011-2013. She then received a six-month scholarship from the National Gugak Center to study Pansori and Gayageum Byeongchang in 2013, and has also won fellowships from Asian Cultural Council, Bronx Council on the Arts, Jerome Foundation, and commissions from the Jazz Gallery and Roulette Intermedium, Inc. in Brooklyn, NY.
Shyu currently leads her band Jade Tongue (Ambrose Akinmusire, Dan Weiss, Thomas Morgan, Mat Maneri), and is touring her solo opera called SOLO RITES: SEVEN BREATHS, directed by renowned Indonesian filmmaker-director Garin Nugroho. It premiered on May 28, 2014, at Roulette.