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RIDGE TO REEF | The journey to inspiration and creation

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Ridge to Reef | The journey to inspiration and creation by Navi Fong, VOU dancer, choreographer and teacher

‘Climate Change? That’s been done to death!’ was my immediate response when approached to choreograph this piece. But it was an opportunity to ‘create’ nevertheless so I dragged along half-heartedly.

VOU had been asked to compose a piece on “Ridge to Reef” a current project of the UNDP. Ridge to Reef project aims to connect communities from inland to the coast, to exchange methods of farming, fishing and create mutually beneficial and sustainable ways of interacting with the environment. I was honored to have been asked to choreograph the piece yet at the same time questioning, where to begin? How to show this narrative about our environment that seems so abstract yet should be on the tip of everyone’s tongue?

In light of everything we think we know about climate change, why is it so uninspiring to act on? Why, despite the shocking statistics and figures and whatnot, do people continue to sit – the way I sat, reading a document about what the piece should explore and expose?

I sat, and read, and got nothing.

People sit, and read, and do nothing.

We read and re-read the same sentence over and over because the ‘layman’ must, especially when you load a conversation about my home with words I don’t understand. When you write, I see nothing and when you talk, nothing. It’s too clinical. Call me immature, call me whatever. I’m still here sitting, reading, and doing nothing.

Know who you’re talking to. Speak like them.

I wondered when the “Ecosystem” and the “Environment” stopped being “Home?

When “Food” became “Natural Resources?”

When did we become things in and on the earth – not from and of the earth?

Tell me to “save the planet” and I’ll continue to sit and brood and tell you to “save yourself” and watch you scurry and scamper and scrub and wash and clean and cleanse from inside out, inwards outwards, core to surface, inland to shoreline, Ridge to Reef.

Know who you’re talking to. Speak like them.

Climate Change is real, this I know, but this truth needs to be communicated further and deeper than someone’s ears and brain. Further and deeper because before it is a planet, it is home and when people are able to recognize this then maybe they will begin to even consider doing something about it.

Know who you’re talking to. Speak like them.

Dance to them. The body speaks louder than we allow it to. Too often we let this language we speak – taught in four walls – silence that that was bred in womb, before our own consciousness, that of the body.

As we got together to share and create movement, we sought immediately to dance about Home – not the Planet – but Home. People created so easily and earnestly movement phrases to be molded and weaved together to make the final piece. This ‘conversation’ was honest.

We were particularly nervous backstage on performance day, when we were to share this conversation with the rest of Fiji at the main stage of the Hibiscus festival, aired live too on Fiji One.

Dancing in rain, mud and sand added so much to how we performed and how the people received our performance. I was so glad to hear in the days that followed, the response from those who saw it. Regardless of whether they liked it or not, they were discussing it and responding to it. Death, Life, Earth, Culture, Loss. YASSS Fiji, YASSSSS!!!

The magic of contemporary dance is that it has power to inspire a thought, an idea, a discussion, an action, and ultimately, change.

Navi Fong

October 2015

Navi first joined the VOU school as a student in Contemporary Dance at the age of 16 under the tutelage of Sachiko and Edward Soro, with the aim of furthering his understanding of expression in movement. It was here that Navi discovered his passion for dance and went on to attend a VOU audition later in 2012. Now Navi is a full-time dancer and trains in Contemporary, Jazz, Hiphop and Ballet with the VOU company. Navi takes most interest and pride in the groups exploration of culture in Contemporary Fijian Dance. Whilst at VOU, Navi performed with the company around Fiji from remote villages of Bua, Rabi and Koro to the lavish world renown resorts of Denarau Island. Internationally Navi has toured with VOU to Canada, PNG, China and New Zealand.

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