Tanz, Ton, Wort.
Nonviolent protest practiced by the Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock Sioux, and Women’s March communities revealed the power of standing up, standing with, and standing for peace, change, recognition, justice, and equality. They remind us that there is a power in the collective: collective words [dialogue] AND collective intention [manifesto].
As America continues to examine its fractured places, I call on dance, music, and poetry to serve as palpator (identifying and naming the broken places and scar tissue), circulator (massaging and moving blood and lymph through the sites), rehabilitator (a sling holding the space and demanding the time (MLK’s NOWNESS) for healing), and witness (compiling the observations, diagnosis, prognosis, and recovery notes). While Internet trolls question protest in the context of “right” and “rights,” I call back (dance back, chant back), protest is a rite of passage. Without protest there is no humanity, maybe civility, but certainly not humanity. In exploring this rite, I invoke ritual and its importance in showing the value of crossing thresholds, shifting and shedding shapes, and transforming self and community. Where does
the energy to create change come from? What shapes does it take and how can we embody or inhabit it?
Rudolf Von Laban, one of the “makers” of Modern Dance in Europe (Germany) used his education in anatomy and architecture to tap into the movement efforts and shapes
of the human body.
There is a parallel in history here that I cannot ignore. Laban's expressive movement choirs in Germany—moving able-bodies together—were appropriated by the Olympic Youth (the Third Reich) in the 1936 Berlin Olympics to create propaganda. While the Olympic Youth choir demonstrated the power of aesthetic, unified movement, it also revealed just how much intention matters in ritual, rite, art, and protest. The differences between Laban’s expressive movement choirs and the Olympic Youth’s propagandized movement choirs returns us to the
impulse—is it coming from the dancer’s body OR the master’s mind?
America revisits this dilemma in the 2017 protest of racist, Confederate Statues in the South. The protest of protesting (the Neo-Nazi groups attacking the Black Lives Matter community) dilutes, distracts, and silences the movement—the choir. How can we reclaim the movement choir and use it to dismantle and thus, remediate this injustice?