Friday, March 9, 2018

in response to Laura Shapiro's post "Reading and Writing and Dancing"

see the original post by Laura Shapiro here
responses published by kind suggestion & in communication with the author who is performing today, March 9th, 2018 *

[...] what is deemed language is multiple in "structures" (as in formations) and media, some of it expressed by use of vocal chords & visual abstractions made from those sound-patterns. But true literacy goes much further, known or unknown.

In my own view those who deem dance "non-verbal" actually are in danger to perpetuate what some call Kyriarchy (bell hooks calls it White Supremacist Imperialist Patriarchy for the culture-zone that you and I live with-in ... ) - because by implication they may negate the important kinaesthetic messages that are transferred, being body-states of all kinds.

To become literate in these body-languages is essential in becoming politically more able to act, so therefore it's also a question of (dis)empowerment, when people (still) do that - or when you get refused a job on an observation that for you is perfectly normal and clear.

[...] What I meant was that the more we are able to understand the signals and languages of our bodies, how they feel, the states they are in, and what is needed to do, we become more politically able as well, and have increased agency. But while for you it is clear that there is no actual division between mind and body, that they function as one system, others are shocked at such a statement.

It seems to me that in too many religions not only is a such division made, but what is relegated to 'the body' is all too often associated with negativity, such as sinfulness, low levels of existence, drives, inability etc.

I find these assumptions remarkably similar to how economically disempowered classes are seen, be they Women, (formerly) enslaved people, "lower classes", or even other animals:

- supposedly not able to deal rationally with themselves, thus needing 'higher guidance'
- deserving to be ruled, and above all disciplined for the general good, otherwise danger could ensue for a perceived (social, cosmic, or other kind of) order.

As choreographers, you and I and those who make poetry out of (human) movement, can communicate a better understanding of this system/continuum, where the created opposites of 'mind' and 'body' can be experienced working together.

I also believe that Elaine Summers and her work, and so many others (e.g. Anna Halprin) often met such resistance, because she would let her dancers speak their own language, rather than one already confined & accepted (e.g. based on forms of what is remembered as European-American classical Ballet)

There's actually a nice parallel in the German language for what I aim at: the word meaning 'mouthy' / 'with a mouth' ("mündig") means able & allowed to speak & express one's mind & views. Imagine if e.g. (cis)women (let alone trans-women) suddenly were allowed to freely speak their mind ... (let alone formerly enslaved people from African lands)


* Laura Shapiro is a New York-based choreographer, performer and teacher who has steadily continued to create and produce her own works for some decades by now. We met 1996 in Amsterdam at the Connected Bodies symposium at SNDO and have continued to be friends in professional exchange ever since then.