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Pacific Studies at the Bergen International Festival

The ECOPAS project of the university’s Department of Social Anthropology brings the climate challenges faced by the Pacific Islands to Bergen, through a new collaboration between the University of Bergen and the Bergen International Festival.

Dancers in a scene in "Moana: The Rising of the Sea".
Photo:
Eilin Holtan Torgersen

PACIFIC STUDIES AT THE BERGEN INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL

The ECOPAS project of the university’s Department of Social Anthropology brings the climate challenges faced by the Pacific Islands to Bergen, through a new collaboration between the University of Bergen and the Bergen International Festival.

Climate change is one of the most significant global challenges of our time, and UiB has a strong international position through climate research in a range of disciplines, especially represented by the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, but also by major projects in other university departments. One such project is the EU-funded ECOPAS consortium, which has its research focus on the social implications of climate change in the Pacific Islands. ECOPAS is coordinated by Professor Edvard Hviding, director of Bergen Pacific Studies Research Group at the Department of Social Anthropology, and the projects includes a strong component of performing arts addressing climate change, produced by choreographers, dramatists and composers from the islands of the Pacific.

It is on this background that the Bergen International Festival will, through a new arrangement of  direct cooperation with UiB, in 2015 be visited by the Pacific region’s leading dance ensemble and choir. The Oceania Dance Theatre and Pasifika Voices are resident at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, a partner in the ECOPAS-project. In Bergen, the ensembles will give two performances of the drama “Moana: The Rising of the Sea”. Through a broad repertoire of dance from different Pacific nations linked with modern ballet, with a powerful choir directed by Igeles Ete (also known as choir master for the “The Lord of the Rings” films), and through the impressive use of original music, video and graphic art, 25 artists express how THEY, as islanders, experience the threat of a rising ocean. What are they going to do? Can they continue to live on their islands? Do they have to leave forever?

Rector Dag Rune Olsen took the initiative to invite the ECOPAS drama performance “Moana” to the Bergen International Festival, as a research-based artistic contribution from UiB. Through this initiative UiB will, for the first time, actively engage in the artistic side of the Bergen International Festival, through a new, enduring approach to collaboration in which science and art unite. The first of the two performances is combined with a climate change symposium organized in partnership between The Department of Social Anthropology and The Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, at which internationally leading climate scientists meet politicians and artists from the Pacific and Norway.

Through such a day, during which science and art truly unite, UiB gets an opportunity to present both artistic results from, and the global relevance of, ongoing research projects.

“This is what we may call ground-breaking research dissemination. For us this is a new and exciting arena that I think we can develop further.”                                                                                                               -Dag Rune Olsen, rector at the University of Bergen (Bergen’s Tidende 30. 11. 2014)