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Hidden Performance working doc

Image from Splinter in the Flesh (2010)

Listening Post 


Image Credit


Athina produced a series of performances as artist in residence at the Science Museum, London in 2008. The focus of the residency was a performed response to The Listening Post, a ‘dynamic portrait’ of online communication by artists Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin that displayed uncensored fragments of text sampled in real-time from internet chatrooms and bulletin boards. Stray thoughts resonated through the space in sound and voice as texts surged, flickered, appeared and disappeared across a suspended grid of over 200 electronic screens.

Athina’s response was a series of movement vignettes repeated in a cyclical pattern. Through the live presence of the dancers, she tried to locate a sense of humanity in the symphony of disembodied voices and texts and to reflect the contrasts between communication and isolation, utterance and silence, the passing and the permanent, sender and receiver, and the fleeting moment of a thought upon a screen.

The piece was commissioned by the Arts Service, Kensington & Chelsea and Science Museum Arts Projects.

The procedure concerns dis-ease. Summoning the conflicting memories and the fragmented histories of the people of Cape Town to Church Square, the ritual performance wove one story from many truths. The active disinfecting agent is manifested as a radical swing between the opposing dynamics of the violent and the funny, the extraordinary and the mundane movement. 

From the Meet Market Project Brief

POLIS: The arena ...mystifyingly, offensively, bizarre... 


Theresa Edlemann on POLIS Arena, Cue, 4 Jul 2012


Ekkyklema (2019)

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Performed: Main Program, National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Athina choreographed Wreckage in collaboration with director Brink Scholtz and the Rhodes University Drama Department. The focus of the production was the Eastern Cape coastal history and the people affected by the early trading vessels wrecked along its treacherous shoreline. This was the first collaboration between the two highly acclaimed theatre companies of the Easten Cape: Rhodes University’s First Physical Theatre Company and Ubom! Eastern Cape Drama Company.

Novembe (2017)

Interdisciplinary Encounters


From 2011 to 2013, Athina conceived and curated 11 Interdisciplinary Events performed at Rhodes Theatre on behalf of the Drama Department.

                    Temp image.jpg

The focus of the events was on how we embody various practices and on how the body communicates meaning in forms beyond the traditional theatrical; namely, visual media, music, rituals, martial arts, sports, ‘sub-cultural’ practices, games and action-driven events. Taking the form of lecture demonstrations, discussions, and displays of working processes, the presentations were staged with little if no rehearsal. These events took place in the theatrical formal space of the ‘black box’, followed by a discussion with the public. Invited academic disciplines were dislocated from their natural arenas and relocated in the theatre; they came together to focus on a common task, and were driven by a particular topic and a question. The notion of disciplinary encounters was an experiment on the performativity of knowledge; it was based on collaboration and dialogue.


Playing Dirty


(Women’s soccer, Sports, Fine Arts, Applied Theatre) 


Suspension Lecture


(Neo-primitive practices, Fine Arts) 


Beyond Fighting


(Karate, Aikido) 


Man at Play


(Interactive Games, Digital Technologies, Drama) 


Objects of Desire

(Collectors, Psychoanalysis, Surveillance) 




(Film, Gym, Music, Philosophy)


Know your Place





(Narrative Psychology, Applied Theatre) 


Write the Moment


(Dance Improvisation, Journalism) 



During the screening of Mark Wilby’s film, sports psychologist and runner Greg Wilmot was running on the treadmill, the sound of his breathing and of the machine keeping in rhythm and in key with the singing in the background. The fusion of music and sport was possibly the most innovative part of the performance as the two seemingly unrelated disciplines complemented each other. Under the creative and unorthodox instruction of Athina Vahla the Drama department has created collaborations with departments and societies across the board. The show proved the compatibility and overlapping nature of the arts.

Vimbai Midzi on Synesthesia, Oppidian Press, 8 November 2012

De Profundis
In Preparation

Alchemy - He Falls a Third Time 


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London Cultural Olympics, 5 September 2012, Purcel Room, South Bank.

Alchemy was choreographed by Athina and co-directed with visual fine artist Rachel Gadsen, one of the London commissions for the 2012 Cultural Olympics.

The overall project was fuelled by the politics and myths surrounding chronic health issues, in particular HIV/AIDS, and the work offered perspectives on what it means to experience disabling conditions and to fight openly for life in the face of social taboos.The performance worked from the collaboration between Gadsen and the South African Bambanani artist-activist group.

Athina invited performer Freddie Opoku- Addaie, medic Sarah Chin and painter Rachel Gadsen to collaborate on stage. Athina’s working concept, “He Falls a Third Time”, aimed to express the atmosphere of conflict and catharsis.

Vahla shows us her character's eventual acceptance of his condition and – eloquently embodied by Opoku-Addaie – the ensuing interplay between exhaustion and the will to survive. Beside him, meanwhile, Gadsden is creating an artwork with frantic speed, fighting her own real-life fight against the dying of the light. In the act of painting, she tells us, she is 'living in the second. A profoundly affecting reminder of our shared humanity, the work is one of 29 commissioned by the Southbank for its Unlimited festival, celebrating disability, art and culture.

Luke Jennings, The Observer, 9 September 2012


Agon: In te Ring


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