Geographies of Imagination. Malta Festival announces its theatre and dance programme

grafika: Bękarty

Malta Festival Poznań announces the first item on its programme: theatre and dance brought to you by international artists. The guiding theme of the festival, which will take place in late June/early July, is Geographies of Imagination.

“Haiti, Singapore, Congo, Belarus or Turkey – these are just a few of the countries referred to by the artists invited to this year’s Malta. Scattered around the world, those geographical locations gain identity in gestures, movements, beliefs and culture of their inhabitants. The inhabitants’ imagination gives meaning to the geography, but imagination is also dependent on geographic and cultural determinants. The local character of imagination, its fluidity, temporariness, movement will be the subject of this year’s Malta,” say artistic director Michał Merczyński and programmer Dorota Semenowicz in the programme text of Malta Festival Poznań outlining the theme of the 33rd edition: Geografie wyobraźni / Geographies of Imagination / Географії уяви.

The Malta Festival will begin on 28 June and last until 2 July. During five days, the audience will see nearly 50 events held in various festival venues. The Festival Centre will be located at the Malta Foundation premises, in the heart of the city, in the historic Arkadia building at 44 Ratajczaka Street. Other events will be held at selected partner venues and in the streets.

Local in a global world

Four dance and theatre performances will give the public an opportunity to see how localness transforms itself and how it is transformed by artists.

fot. Dajana Lothert


The multidisciplinary show Yishun Is Burning, directed by Berlin-based Singaporean artist Choy Ka Faia, is about Asian shamanism, specifically about a spiritual practice from Yishun, a suburb of Singapore. Ka Fai’s performance is a multicultural dance event (featuring elements of voguing) which surpasses the limits of gender, race and religion. It celebrates seeking one’s own spirituality in dance. The artist uses Asian shamanistic traditions as a point of departure for creating shows, installations and exhibitions which illustrate their evolution under factors such as colonialism and technological developments.


fot. Daniel Nicoalevsky


In The Divine Cypher, Afro-Brazilian artist Ana Pi explores Haitian Vodou rituals of a religion that emerged from the confluence of African beliefs with Indian culture and Catholic religion. The artist is interested in the place of Vodou in contemporary Haitian imagination, particularly in urban dance. The performance is a journey in time, combining the past, present and future, dance and image, the imaginary and the real. The Divine Cypher features many references to the works of American filmmaker and researcher Maya Deren, who is Pi’s spiritual guide across Haitian reality and culture, as well as a partner in “dialogue”.

In both shows, Ka Fai’s and Pi’s, a documentary description of ritual experience comes into contact with the artists’ imagination, showing how tradition is captured by contemporary dance forms.


Igor Shugaleev is well known to the Malta audience. His performance last year was met with attentive and empathic reception. In his latest show, cocreated with Sergey Shabohin, the Belorussian performer addresses his own experience of a constant, painful pursuit of freedom. The point of departure in Ich heiße Frau Troffea is the story of the eponymous Troffea, who, unexpectedly to herself, began dancing fervently all day and night in the narrow streets of Strasbourg, sparking the Dancing Plague of 1518. Referring to this story, Shugaleev expresses the shock caused by separation from home, his forced emigration from Belarus and searching for his own self in the rave culture of Berlin.


fot. Patricia Stead


An extremely colourful and original theatre and dance recommendation is a street show by Patrick Ziza. Dandyism is inspired by the Congolese phenomenon of La Sape (sapeurs). In the early 20th century, people of Central Africa borrowed the style of European gentlemen (suits, hats, walking sticks, etc.) in resistance to colonialism. The sape movement grew in the 1960s, when it created a specific metropolitan subculture.  Today, it expresses the pursuit of gender equality. Ziza’s show features dancers in impressive, grotesque costumes performing a vivid dance that celebrates diversity and individuality.

The body, movement and image: these form the common denominator of the performative projects that the audience will see at the Malta Festival this year. The shows, with the exception of Patrick Ziza’s Dandyism, are ticketed. Tickets are available on After the performances, we invite you to meetings with Choy Ka Fai, Ana Pi and Igor Shugaleev.

A foretaste of the full programme

“We are interested in showing the local in the world of global art transfers, not only the voluntary ones, but also those caused by war or economic conditions,” say Dorota Semenowicz and Michał Merczyński. This line of thinking was inspired by the works of Orhan Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for literature. In his books, the Turkish writer addresses the relationship between the local and the global, the peripheral and the central, between movement and stability. Pamuk discusses the subject of cultural flows, the circulation and movement of ideas and practices. His best known novel, My Name Is Red, forms the basis of the opera I, Şeküre. Commissioned for this year’s festival, it was created  by one of the most interesting Polish composers of the middle generation, Aleksander Nowak. The opera will be presented as a concert during Malta Festival 2023, and will be followed by a meeting with Orhan Pamuk.

As always, spectators are invited to the outdoor opening parade and finale concert. There will also be discussions during the Forum, workshops, shows for children, evening concerts and a silent disco until the break of dawn. All this at the Festival Centre with an impressive view of Wolności Square. Stay tuned!