About the dance:
NOOR, a 45 minute solo dance/ theatre piece performed by solo dancer Felicia Norton, has received critical acclaim in the US and Europe. NOOR is co-choreographed by Felicia Norton and Sasha Spielvogel, artistic director of Labyrinth Dance Theatre and Sasha wrote and directed NOOR. Noor Inayat Khan was a British SOE agent, who was parachuted into France and worked undercover during Nazi occupation in WW2. Felicia dances the role of Noor Inayat Khan, depicting Noor’s journey from the delight of her poetic childhood to her strength and dignity in the face of torture. The piece weaves Noor’s poems, musical compositions and her translation of the Buddhist Jataka Tale “The Elephant Tale” interspersing these with Morse code, political speeches, voices, letters, and music of the era, into a lush and dramatic sound score by Emmy nominated composer David Majzlin.
Reviews of ‘NOOR’ Performances
“NOOR is performed as a solo by Felicia Norton; an extraordinary dancer. ….Choreographed by Felicia Norton and Sasha Spielvogel, NOOR is an absorbing 45-minute contemporary dance piece. Set to a recorded score by David Majzlin that brilliantly combines evocative music, dialogue, Morse code, political speeches, excerpts from personal letters, and dramatic sound effects, the work tells the gripping true story of Noorunnisa Inayat Khan, a Sufi pacifist- turned Allied spy who was eventually betrayed to the Gestapo and executed at Dachau.” -Lisa Jo Sagolla – BACKSTAGE
“NOOR, created by Felicia Norton and Sasha Spielvogel, is a remarkably poignant and exciting piece of dance/theater. Felicia Norton is a brilliant dancer whose embodiment of Noor Inayat Khan’s character and should be seen at all major International Festivals. ” –Rose Hartman, Panorama Magazine
“Felicia Norton captures the spirit of Noor Inayat Khan and tells her moving story with passion and intensity in a stunning work of dance theatre.” -Shrabani Basu, author of Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan
“Felicia Norton’s dancing in NOOR was nuanced and subtle.” -Amiel Clarke, Edinburgh Festivals Magazine
“Labyrinth Dance Theater’s production based on the life of Noor Inayat Khan is an incredibly riveting and inspiring story. I saw NOOR at the New York premiere and what was so amazing was the palpable sense of connection between the audience and Felicia Norton, who gives a 40-minute tour de force as Noor. I cannot praise this piece enough.” – Ellen McKey, Director, Foreign Fulbright Student Programs
“The highlight of the show was Labyrinth Dance Theatre’s NOOR. Performer Felicia Norton’s outstanding physical storytelling told the true life story of a brave woman who worked in occupied France as a spy for the Allies during the Second World War until her execution in Dachau. All three of the pieces are well-executed, providing an entertaining initiation into the contemporary dance scene in the US.” – Three Weeks, Edinburgh Weekly
NOOR SOLO DANCE
Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York
St Mark’s Church, New York City, New York
Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, New York.
Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh, Scotland
Rudolf Steiner Hall, London, UK,
Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Benefit Concert
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Bryant Park Arts Festival
New York City, New York
Erasing Borders: Festival of Indian Dance
New York City, NY
The Nehru Centre
With an introduction by Shrabani Basu, author of ‘Spy Princess, The Life of Noor Inayat Khan’
Fazil Manzil, Noor’s family home near Paris/Suresnes, France
Angel Orensanz Center for the Arts
New York City, NY
Festival of the Arts, Sarasota, Florida.
About Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan (1914 – 1944)
Noor was a citizen of the world. She was born in Moscow to an American mother and the classical Hindustani musician and renowned Sufi master, Hazrat Inayat Khan. She was stunningly beautiful, kind and loving. At a young age, she translated and published “The Twenty Jataka Tales”, Buddhist fables for children, in which animals perform feats of bravery and sacrifice, ironically foreshadowing her own destiny. She played the harp and vina, and studied music with Nadia Boulanger at the Sorbonne, until her family moved from their home in Suresnes to London when the Nazis invaded in 1940.
As a universal Sufi, Noor understood the importance of human rights and respect for all religions. She was a pacifist – not the stuff that spies are usually made of – but she felt it her duty to become proactive to save Jews and other victims of Nazi oppression. Volunteering for Britain’s Special Operations Executive, (SOE), code-named Madeleine, she was the first woman wireless operator infiltrated into Nazi occupied France, eventually becoming one of the last communication links between Paris and London.
Though the Gestapo had a full description of her, she evaded them through the summer of 1943, often doing the work of six radio operators even as her spy ring collapsed around her. She would have gotten out of Paris had she not been sold to the Gestapo by a ‘friend’. Upon capture, she made two daring escape attempts from Nazi headquarters at 84 Avenue Foch, which branded her “a most dangerous person” and was sent to prison in Germany where she was chained in solitary confinement for eleven months. During her interrogation and torture, she never betrayed anyone or revealed any secrets. On September 13, 1944, only months before the camp was liberated, she was taken to Dachau and shot.
Her last word was “Liberté!”
Known as “Madeleine de la Resistance”, Noor un-nisa Inayat Khan lived a life that should be acknowledged by a wider circle of people. What she did during the war and her courageous selfless acts to save victims of Nazi oppression should be honored and told again- for the generations.She was posthumously awarded the Croix du Guerre with Gold Star and the George Cross, France and Britain’s highest honors to a civilian for acts of bravery during wartime. In 2012, Princess Anne of Great Britan installed a bust in memory of Noor at Gordon Square in London. The bust was sculpted by Karen Newman, who has sculpted other SOE women, including the memorable bust of Violette Szabo which stands on the South Bank in London.
Felicia Norton studied with Noor’s brother, Pir Vilayat Khan who taught Sufism in the West until his death in 2004.