About Ikebana

One year ago I was at Transit Festival. The ninth edition. My first one.

After a few months, Julia Varley ask me to write about the Workshop "Ikebana, Giving Life to Flowers”, with Carolina Pizarro and Keiin Yoshimura. I could't do it because I was about to start O Levante!, another Magdalena festival that I organized in Brazil, involving almost 100 people, plus a premiere of my performance in the schedule. I was completely crazy and barely had time to see my kids.

Ikebana workshop, Transit 2019. Photo: Rina SkeelBut I remember that task Julia asked me since then, even I don’t remember part of the process from the workshop. What remains for me is the lesson I shared after the demonstration of the work, that still makes sense and it’s related to “cycles of time".

We started from Carolina’s work. With her very dynamic, fast and exhaustive movements. We could feel alive through joy, serotonin and muscular pain. We had a lot of efficient tasks that resulted in a lot of interesting material. We could feel the strong energy of Latin America.

And then, we worked with Keiin. With her gentle, slow and meticulous movements. We could feel being part of an ancient theater practice. We could observe an experienced master executing her work and being careful passing her knowledge to us. We also had to execute a traditional japanese piece. What a privilege!

Ikebana workshop, Transit 2019. Photo: Linda Lyn CunninghamThey are both precise and full of effort.

However, it was difficult to alternate from one to another and it demanded from my body and brain to struggle inertia. It was when I finally found a sensorial relationship with time that it became very pleasant.

It meant for me the same alternation as expansion and contraction, inhale and exhale, day and night, summer and winter… it’s about cycles of life!

Including Transit, I had a very valuable year in 2019. O Levante! was amazing and very meaningful to a lot of women. My partnership with Violeta Luna and other personal projects were very transformative.

And now, we find ourselves tied in a new cycle, in a new collective rhythm from a new situation.

Ikebana workshop, Transit 2019. Photo: Camilla SoaveIt’s painful to face our health threatened, mostly for us in Brazil whose are concerning about corruption and negligence from government and fighting for our democracy in the midst of a pandemic.

It’s very hard to remember that one year ago we were together, showing our work, watching others, creating and exchanging deeply!

It’s also hard to change our rhythm, cancel or postpone plans, create new ones, and try to understand this unprecedented time.

After my very anxious and hopeless message to Jill Greenhalgh, she invited me to have a video chat. We talked a lot about our personal life, anguishes, insights, and mostly about theater/art in this isolation scenery.

flower on shitShe showed me a picture, which became very inspiring after her explanation: “Lívia, this is a flower on the top of a giant pile of shit. Because it’s necessary a lot of shit to allow something beautiful to appear.”

What a lesson!

So, I realized what I start to build one year ago, my Ikebana understanding about creating something beautiful.

The path could be very precise, technical, fast, slow, and beautiful; but also can be a messy, stinky and disgusting one.

But anyway, it still takes time to round a cycle and "give life to flowers” again!


Lívia Gaudencio

Artistic Director O Levante! International Festival of Women on Stage

Brazil, 20 de junho de 2020.


Photos on this page are from the Ikebana workshop, by Rina Skeel, Linda Lyn Cunningham and Camilla Soave.