Peace to the City Dance -- Inspired by Inspiring Peace

Peace to the City and the Decade to Overcome Violence

Violence has grown all over the world. It manifests itself in many different ways, with deep and complex causes. Urgent and effective action and policies are required to overcome it. In many cases, the very survival and sustainability of life in human community are at stake.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has encouraged churches and other groups in the ecumenical movement as well as in the world-wide civil society to take on initiatives to break the cycle of violence.

One such effort is the Peace to the City, launched as a global campaign in 1997. It started in seven cities where both destructive and constructive forces are present: Rio de Janeiro (Brazil); Belfast (North Ireland); Boston (USA); Colombo (Sri Lanka); Durban (South Africa); Kingston (Jamaica); and Suva (Fiji). The focus of the Campaign was not on violence in the cities, whose widespread incidence and complexities are widely known, but rather on creative efforts to overcome violence through cross-community work aimed at building bridges between and reconciling communities torn apart by conflict and violence.

Click to the programme notes:
The photos in this series were taken during "Peace to the City's" world premiere performance at the World Exposition in Hanover, Germany (Photos WCC/Jens Schulze)
The campaign highlighted these experiences and creative models, recognized their methodologies, stimulated the exchange of knowledge and set up a wide global network to encourage other communities to take similar initiatives in their own contexts. Peace to the City still works as a global network for sharing and supporting practical local and international efforts, aimed at overcoming violence and building a culture of peace.

At the Eighth Assembly of the World Council of Churches, held in Harare, Zimbabwe in December 1998, the churches were inspired by the stories from the Peace to the City campaign and other initiatives and recognized the need for the churches to address together the growing violence in their communities and in the world. The delegates called for a Decade to Overcome Violence: Churches Seeking Reconciliation and Peace, 2001-2010.

This ballet suite, Peace to the City builds on the stories from the campaign and brings artistic expression to the Decade and the world-wide struggle to overcome violence and build a culture of peace.

The Production
The contemporary ballet suite Peace to the City is a cultural-artistic project that seeks to communicate through music, song, dance, light and color, the efforts made around the world to build a culture of peace. Without being literal, it seeks to express the rhythmic and corporal imaginary world of the seven partner cities of the World Council of Churches’ Peace to the City Campaign.

The Music
Seven Cities and Three Woes: A Song of Peace, is a ballet suite written for a quartet (violin, cello, piano and voice). The work is divided into eleven small parts with some independence among them, which characterizes the suite. Each one of the seven cities is interpreted musically by the composer. In the whole of the work, the cities are interspersed by the woes and, from this dialogue between city and woe, is born the Song of Peace.

The original organization of the musical pieces were modified to adapt to the choreography. The order of the pieces are:

  1. Song of Peace - soprano, violin, cello and piano.
  2. Rio de Janeiro - violin, cello and piano.
  3. Third "Woe" - soprano, violin cello and piano
  4. Boston - violin and cello, with the soprano's intervention.
  5. Belfast - violin and piano.
  6. Second "Woe" - soprano, cello and piano.
  7. Kingston - soprano, cello and percussion.
  8. Suva - soprano, violin, cello and piano.
  9. Durban - piano.
  10. Columbus - violin and cello.
  11. First "Woe" - voice and piano.
  12. Song of Peace - soprano, violin, cello and piano.
The Choreography
The choreographic work, The Birds, seeks to establish a movement between the person's interior and exterior, creating configurations from rhythms and silences that are made concrete through gesture. The gestures are inspired from the stories that come from the seven cities, but they are not literal.

Using subjective language, the work builds movements that speak about the tensions involved in the peace processes, as well as of the reconciliations. The gestures are unique and loaded with meanings. The bodies that drag themselves on the ground and lift themselves up for the encounter, speak about the successive renewals and resurrections amidst the different forms of death. The hands that sometimes hide, sometimes reveal, the face, speak about identity loss and reconstruction. The arms that sometimes confront each other and other times lean on each other, point to the threats of violence and also to the solidarity inherent in the making of peace. The language of gestures moves between lightness and density, softness and hardness, surface and core. During the whole work, the bodies are in constant dialogue.

The musical work as well as the choreographic work begin with the principle that peace is the fruit of complex and arduous, although beautiful processes.

The musicians are located beside the dance space and the soprano establishes the connection between them and the ballet dancers. This interlacing is part of the general concept of the performance that seeks to bring the image of integration and harmony, highly cherished values of peace.

The forms and blue-silver tones of the scenery together with the costume design and the light, are designed to produce an atmosphere of enchantment.

The entire show possesses an intrinsic balance. It is deeply beautiful. Done for peace.

Nestor de Hollanda Cavalcanti's Three Woes and Seven Cities: A Song of Peace is performed by Trio Aquarius (Flávio Augusto, Ricardo Amado and Ricardo Santoro)

Brazilian soprano Juliana Franco singing Cavalcanti's Song of Peace

Wagner Varela, Ana Amélia Vianna and Al Crispin dancing under the direction of Marcia Milhazes

The hands that sometimes hide, sometimes reveal, the face, speak about identity loss and reconstruction

During the whole work, the bodies are in constant dialogue
General Conception and Executive Producer: Lusmarina Garcia
Director, Choreographer, Costume Designer and Conception "The Birds": Marcia Milhazes
Composer "Three Woes and Seven Cities: A Song of Peace": Nestor de Hollanda Cavalcanti
Soprano: Juliana Franco
Music Interpreters: Trio Aquarius
Lighting, Stage manager: Glauce Milhazes
Set Designer: Beatriz Milhazes
Costumes-Confection: Carmem Mattos
Technical support: Eder Tarjino
Engineer support & Translator: Federico Besnard
Sponsored by: World Council of Churches

Marcia Milhazes Dança Contemporânea
An independent dance company based in Rio de Janeiro, the Marcia Milhazes Dança Contemporânea was founded in 1994 upon the return of its choreographer, Marcia Milhazes from England, where she lived for five years as a professional dancer and choreographer. The Company aims to enthusiastically develop works in contemporary dance, and is nationally and internationally known. The dancers Al Crispin, Ana Amélia Vianna, and Wagner Varela were chosen for their individual strengths and talents, and this individuality is nourished and fostered.

Composer: Nestor de Hollanda Cavalcanti
Nestor de Hollanda Cavalcanti is a well-known Brazilian contemporary music composer and a man of great faith.

Soprano: Juliana Franco
Juliana Franco has been hailed by critics as a "revelation" and a "great promise for lyric chant for the 21st century". Her solo work includes performances with the Brazilian Symphonic Orchestra, National Symphonic Orchestra and Rio de Janeiro Theatre Symphonic Orchestra. She is currently doing post-graduate studies in Opera and Performance in the USA.

Trio Aquarius
Winners of several Brazilian and international contests, Flávio Augusto (piano), Ricardo Amado (violin), and Ricardo Santoro (cello), decided in 1991 to pull their talents and formed Trio Aquarius. As a trio, their national and international success has continued with concerts and competions at the highest level. At present, the Trio’s goal is to make better known the musical production of Brazil.

Set Designer
Beatriz Milhazes is considered one of the most important contemporary Latin American painters. She has been invited to exhibit her work in well-known galeries and museums in Europe, Latin and North America, such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of New York.

General conception and Executive Producer: Lusmarina Campos Garcia
Lusmarina Campos Garcia studied law and theology. She is a pastor of the Lutheran Church in Brazil (ECLB) and works with worship and art. Her skill in bringing beauty and expression to the worship environment as well as her creativity have brought new perspectives to ecumenical worship. Lusmarina has worked for the WCC, YWCA, LWF and other local and international institutions in various world-wide events. The Peace to the City ballet was born out of her ability to bring people, their expertise and interests together.

World Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches (WCC) is a fellowship of churches, now 337, from virtually all Christian traditions in more than 100 countries in all continents. The membership includes Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the Assembly, which meets every seven years. The WCC was founded in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and its main offices are located in Geneva, Switzerland.

Peace to the City Dance -- Inspired by Inspiring Peace

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