Paradise Rumour (2023)

Black Grace, Paradise Rumour, 2023
Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation
Credits: Neil Ieremia (creative direction);
Faith Schuster, Rodney Tyrell, Demi-Jo Manalo
(dancers, from back to front)
Photo: Toaki Okano


Sharjah Art Foundation announces the premiere of Paradise Rumour (2023) by the leading contemporary dance company Black Grace. The performance will take place at 8:00 pm on 26 May 2023 in the Africa Hall, Sharjah.

Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation for the 15th edition and 30-year anniversary of the Sharjah Biennial, the performance is an extension of Black Grace’s 2009 work Gathering Clouds, which addresses prejudice and xenophobia against Pacific migrants in Aotearoa [New Zealand]. Asking ‘how far have we really come since then?’, Paradise Rumour deals with personal and collective memories and experiences of the Pacific Island community, starting with the arrival of the missionaries.

Black Grace’s choreographic range juxtaposes the dynamism of high-paced acrobatics with the vulnerability of theatrical narrative, braiding these elements together into a universal physical language.

This performance is made possible with the generous support of Bank of Sharjah and Sharjah Government Media Bureau. Bank of Sharjah's sponsorship of the Sharjah Biennial aligns with its focus on social responsibility and fostering cooperation among communities and connecting them through the arts.

Ticketing information

Admission is free; however, prior booking is advised.
Book your tickets at now.

About Black Grace

Founded in 1995 in Auckland by artistic director Neil Ieremia, a dancer and choreographer of Samoan descent, Black Grace is grounded in the ancestral Samoan principles of fa’amaoni [integrity, honesty and pride], fa’amalosi/loto tele [perseverance and determination] and fa’aloalo [humility and respect].

Ieremia’s repertoire often draws from traditional Samoan forms, such as sasa [seated dance] and fa’ataupati [slap dance], both of which emerged originally as expressions of everyday Samoan life. In 2018, Ieremia and Black Grace founded the Guerilla Collection, a transdisciplinary arts festival that foregrounds contemporary Pacific culture.

Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present

Sharjah Art Foundation brings together over 150 artists and collectives from more than 70 countries for the 15th edition and 30-year anniversary of the Sharjah Biennial. Conceived by the late Okwui Enwezor and curated by the Foundation’s Director Hoor Al Qasimi, Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present reflects on Enwezor’s visionary work, which transformed contemporary art and has influenced the evolution of institutions and biennials around the world, including the Sharjah Biennial.

Al Qasimi interprets and elaborates on Enwezor’s proposal with a presentation of more than 300 artworks—including 70 new works—critically centring the past within contemporary times. These works, as well as a wide-ranging programme of performance, music and film, activate more than 19 venues in five cities and towns across the emirate of Sharjah: Al Dhaid, Al Hamriyah, Kalba, Khorfakkan as well as the city of Sharjah. Among the many venues are sites within Sharjah’s historical quarter; buildings recently restored and transformed by the Foundation, including The Flying Saucer and Kalba Ice Factory; and repurposed structures that once served as a vegetable market, medical clinic and kindergarten.

Free and open to the public, Sharjah Biennial 15 runs through 11 June 2023.

About Sharjah Art Foundation

Sharjah Art Foundation is an advocate, catalyst and producer of contemporary art within the Emirate of Sharjah and the surrounding region, in dialogue with the international arts community. The Foundation advances an experimental and wide-ranging programmatic model that supports the production and presentation of contemporary art, preserves and celebrates the distinct culture of the region, and encourages a shared understanding of the transformational role of art. The Foundation’s core initiatives include the long-running Sharjah Biennial, featuring contemporary artists from around the world; the annual March Meeting, a convening of international arts professionals and artists; grants and residencies for artists, curators and cultural producers; ambitious and experimental commissions; and a range of travelling exhibitions and scholarly publications.

About Sharjah

Sharjah is the third largest of the seven United Arab Emirates, and the only one bridging the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Reflecting the deep commitment to the arts, architectural preservation and cultural education embraced by its ruler, Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Sharjah is home to more than 20 museums and has long been known as the cultural hub of the United Arab Emirates. It was named UNESCO's Arab Capital of Culture for 1998 and the UNESCO World Book Capital for 2019.

Media Contact

Alyazeyah Al Marri