Flemish dancer and Iraqi-Dutch karate champ channel forces of #mindpower

In the 18th and 19th episodes of the #mindpower series, Belgian choreographer Koen Augustijnen and Iraqi-born activist-athlete Wafa al Kenany read from the works of Rainis and Aspazija.

Koen Augustijnen has spent the last quarter-century tending to Belgium’s budding scene of the choreographic arts. Unencumbered by older traditions, Augustijnen relates in Episode 18 how Belgian dance melds together many different artistic genres, combining theatre performance and various visual arts into the kinetic world of ballet to create new hybrid forms.

In his episode the Flemish dance auteur gives his rendition of Rainis’ poem “Three Signs”, written in 1912. Last year the choreographer took part in Riga’s Capital of Culture program, combining contemporary with Latvian traditional folk dancing and pop culture with documentary stories dedicated to the historic neighborhood of Vecmīlgrāvis.

Meanwhile, Aspazija (played by newscaster Eva Ikstena-Strapcāne) peers into a telescope to introduce her life partner’s poem and spy on what’s going on a century later on the streets of Brussels.

In Episode 19 Aspazija gets downright feisty, as she boxes breathlessly against a punching bag and rails against her gender’s stereotyped limitations, which she fought all her life to transcend.

To underscore the impact, #mindpower travels to the waterfronts and canals of Amsterdam, where Wafa al Kenany, former Iraqi karate champion and now a human rights lawyer and women’s rights activist in the Netherlands, reads from an essay by Aspazija on the state of women in society.

The Culture Programme of the Presidency of the Council of the EU has launched a series of conversational video vignettes honoring the 150th anniversary of poets Rainis and Aspazija, considered among the founding literary, political and social figures who began building the Latvian nation more than a century ago.

Dubbed #Domasspēks (#mindpower), the videos star troubadour Goran Gora and LTV news anchor Eva Ikstena-Strapcāne as the “first couple” of the national mindset, convincingly costumed to be hosting and remarking most wisely upon a series of current-day European thinkers bringing the turn-of-the-century socio-philosophical pioneering to an up-dated context.

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