Choreographed by Wendy Jehlen, this evening-length work explores the figure of Iblis, also known Satan, in some Sufi traditions. The performance is rooted in the ancient tradition of syncretism - combining dance and theatre, elements of Islam and Hinduism, and growing out of performance styles as divergent as Brazilian Capoeira, Japanese Butoh, Sanskrit Theater, Contact Improvisation, West African dance and American Sign Language poetry.
He Who Burns is a dance-theater piece exploring the nature of humanity's relationship with the divine, the eternal quest for unity, and the illusion of duality in the human experience. It takes our notion of good and evil, the divine and the satanic, and turns it on its head. Staged as a trio, He Who Burns takes us on a journey from the time before time, through the suffering of Iblis in his separation from his Beloved, and his quest for the same, through to his ecstatic annihilation. The performance at once parallels the Sufi quest, as outlined in the great Sufi text, "Conference of the Birds," and the structure of the Bharata Natyam performance. The text, from the Persian, Arabic and Urdu of Al-Hallaj, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Mohammed Iqbal, Al Ghazzali, Hafiz and Maulana Jelaluddin Rumi, is performed in Urdu, English and Korean.