I also had the opportunity to share dinner with Heather Bowsher, Merle Ratner of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign, Ngo Thanh Nhan macroactivist for Vietnam, and several other inspiring individuals who have paved the way when it comes to activism and legislation related to Agent Orange. These were the movers and the shakers of the decade. I was extremely humbled by the extent of work that had already been accomplished (much of which before I was born!) and I am excited by the potential of my involvement in the development of this work in my own avenue of change: movement and performance.
As such, I engaged in a brief discussion with Heather about the problematics and politics involved with engaging individuals with disabilities in a staged performance. She shared with me her hesitation about the sometimes exploitative nature of exhibiting disabled bodies on stage. Though we did not have the chance to delve much deeper into this topic, I am motivated to continue to explore how individuals can exist on stage as individuals rather than bodies as referents to some other message or agenda. Though we will continue to read visual labels onto the bodies we see, as we have become an increasingly visually-dependent culture and our heuristics for understanding the world can only do so much to articulate the nuances of our experience, I am interested in creating an experience that summons the idea of Agent Orange, while still remaining true to my knowledge and experience of the topic.
I think the key to doing this is to return to elemental and sensorial concepts void of imposed external narrative:
With this return to elements, we are continuing to explore basic sensorial experience again: touch, taste, smell, sight. I asked my dancers this week to review the material and structure we had created, but to try and experience each moment newly, in the present.
finding the negative space
filling the holes in energy
seeking out energy and attaching yourself to it
Moving from external sources of energy to illuminate internal sources
imagining rays of light as heat and energy entering the body and propelling the work
indulging in a moment, experiencing only a moment of a phrase and
"throwing the rest away"
how pacing of others around us affect our work
how we the contrast in tempos between dancers causes a change in energy