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Authenticity is more important than identity.

tickets for October 2012

SAYA IKAN / I AM A FISH is a new full length performance. A piece with dance, spoken text and live music. Text will be spoken live in performance. With each performance one live musician, from a pool of musicians: Michael Moore (clarinet), Michael Vatcher (percussion), Felicity Provan (trumpet, vocals), Hilary Jeffery (trombone). Lights from Ellen Knops. Text by Lily Kiara in collaboration with Michiel Klein Nulent.

SAYA IKAN (Indonesian for 'I am a fish') / I AM A FISH reveals and contemplates the story/history of the Indo-Europeans, of Indo-Europeans in Indonesia during the Japanese occupation and the Bersiap period, the time immediately following the Japanese capitulation, when the Indonesians fought to end the Dutch colonial period.  It talks about captivity and exclusion, of survival strategies and emotional withdrawal or courage, of colonial complexity, and of migration and (re-)turning to a place that is supposed to be home but shares no familiarity.  And it brings attention to dealing with the resonance of it; when the actuality of the situation has gone, but it continues to resonate throughout the emotional and physical life. Not a performance of guilt or victimhood, but of observations, experiences, feelings, choices.

SAYA IKAN / I AM A FISH is treated as a documentary. The text derives from a continuous exchange between writing and dancing. The play with words can sometimes come out as story or as observation, and other times as poetic contemplations. The observer in the documentary and the dancer are embodied by one performer, which reveals a balancing between the two forms of perceiving: the observing and the experiencing.

Documentary maker Pirjo Honkasalo: “If we want to show the truth, we need poetry.”



I have been inspired mostly by personal stories. They move me the most, through the details of experience and imagination. They reveal individual choices, responses, dilemmas and actions. When there is talk about 1 million survivors of war, I don't really know what that means; when of these 1 million, i hear one story, I become aware of some of the immensity and impact.

Between 2003 and 2009, I met about 65 Indo-Europeans living in the Netherlands. They talked about their life stories, especially the parts of their lives that took place during the war in Indonesia and the effects of this time they are still dealing with today. Since then, some of my Indo-European family members have been able to tell me stories as well. My mother was born in Indonesia.

Writer Jeanette Winterson: "Autobiography is not important. Authenticity is important."


The first full length performances of this project will be performed in Het Veem Theater in Amsterdam, 26, 27 October 2012. With live music by Michael Moore and Felicity Provan (each one night). Supported by the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Noord-Holland and Het Veem Theater.

Details for 26, 27 October

On the 22nd of September I performed solo a short preview of SAYA IKAN / I AM A FISH, during the celebration day of Stg. Pelita, founded to support Indo-Europeans. During that day among others to see and hear are: Adriaan van Dis, Yvonne Keuls, Wieteke van Dort, Wouter Muller.

SAYA IKAN / I AM A FISH derives from an, ongoing project Singing to use the waiting, in which I use poems by American poet Jorie Graham to investigate (the activism of) stillness and urgency.
Some areas of attention that I come across, I wish to investigate further. One of the ways of doing this has been performing relatively short dances (15-30 min.) in performances with low tech situations. Singing to use the waiting / # I am a Fish has been continuing to ask attention and so I have done several short performances, each time highlighting or sharpening different sides of it. So far, I performed these 'studies' of the piece as part of Singing to use the waiting, at:


23 July 2010, Tanzfabrik, Berlin, G: Daisy’s Visit (first time the fish was mentioned)
2 January 2011, Tanzfabrik, Berlin, G, Freistil: I am a Fish, study #1
21 July 2011, Tanzfabrik, Berlin, G: I am a Fish, study #2, with Hilary Jeffery (trombone)
13 August 2011, Studio 7, Amsterdam, NL: I am a Fish, study #3
1 November 2011, The Performance Centre, University College Falmouth, UK: I am a Fish, study #4
19 July 2012, Tanzfabrik, Berlin, G: I am a Fish, study #5


photos: (c) Lily Kiara 2011 + video still UK