For centuries, the Sámi people ranged in territory that stretched from Norway to Russia, until policies of enforced assimilation stripped them of their traditional culture. Subjected to almost-total cultural obliteration, with residential schools, language suppression, and religious conversion, the path back to a place of pride and identity has come through art.
Undoing this kind of erasure is Vástádus eana – The answer is land.
Taking inspiration from a poem that foregrounds the relationship between the Sámi people and their homeland, choreographer Elle Sofe Sara fashions a critically important message about the foundational attachment arising from community and culture.
At its heart is the concept of kinship, embodied in the seven women performers, who act not only as guides, bringing audience members into the theatre, but also create a living form of continuity and reclamation. Dressed in elements of traditional costume and armed with bullhorns, the performers combine ritualized movement with polyphonic Yoiks, traditional mountain songs from composer Frode Fjellheim meant to evoke different flora and fauna.
A fundamental act of shepherding as well as a manifestation of care and connection, Vástádus eana – The answer is land offers a return to dignity, healing, and ultimately the possibility of a new relationship with the natural world.