WHY AM I STILL DOING THIS?
In the middle of a heatwave stretching across Europe I sat in a studio in Geneva, Switzerland. I am alone, I have just finished giving a workshop. The dancers and I had spent the final portion of the class, reflecting on what transpired over the course of four days.
If you are like myself or many other artist, the current political climate is exhausting beyond measure. As a dance maker, I have spent the whole of my creative career thus far, dedicating movement creation to the muted. All of my performance work seeks to engage with the social and political.
The work changed on November 7th 2017. Somehow it has shifted and within the last eight months we have been overtly submerged in a pool of resistance, response and engagement. If you are like myself or many other artist then you came out from under the last eight months, uninspired, broken and lost. I ran away this summer to Europe to try and engage with a new practice. In some degree I imagine that I am going home, to myself or so that is the point of traveling (we are taught).
So with a series of workshops, new dancers, and three cities across two countries…I begin this journey. I began with a new movement series, a physical vibration that began in the ground and that would make it’s way up the body. I wanted to envision the turmoil and trauma we carry on our backs and then I wanted to evoke a ritual out of a basic movement. That if we broke down simple gestures and parts of our body, where would we go.
In dance language you often hope that your message is not lost, whether in writing or movement. So that is how it began, with simple movement.
The resistance will remind you that you must fight, but often not how to fight. Political agendas will ask you to rise, without handing you a syllabus of important and necessary reading materials first. How prepared are we? Social media filters our day, we are discussing with the same people in the same way.
So like the syllabus that we are missing, I thought, a new physical ritual could connect to all bodies. From the performer to the audience member. Let us begin with a ritual then. I then decided that I would avoid the narrative for the first time in my work. Instead of telling the audience what to think or lead them in any way, on what to feel. I would attempt to puncture their core with a feeling. Feelings grow, they remain long after the curtains have drawn.
The dancers finished a days work and looked at me with smiling eyes. I asked if it worked for them. They said “yes, I think this could work for anyone”. They wouldn’t know it but my insides were burning with gratitude. It was only a beginning, beginning of a new language. Why am I still doing this? I constantly struggle to find the response. I think, is a place I will begin…I think because I am determined to communicate to everyone.
I watched these dancers shake, move and undo movement vocabulary I gave them. I saw them respond to my method through their own ideas. A salsa, contemporary and street dancer all engaged in one space. There was indeed a way for all of us to move harmoniously. The shaking continued, such a simple movement of physical vibrations. After all movement was exhausted I looked at the dancers and I thought of what brought me here.
The resistance is sometimes bitter, angry and with reason of course. Still, the resistance forgets to inform you to communicate with all bodies. If you are like myself or many other artist then you are reading this because you haven’t given up.
Maybe we give up the narrative and we engage with the abstract. We put aside the anger for a moment, and attempt to really see one another. How we vibrate, how we move and how each of us has our own personal ritual.
In dance language you often hope that your message is not lost, whether in writing or movement. So that is how this began, with a simple movement. Why am I still doing this? I have trouble to find the response…the response is still in vibration I believe.