Movement Workshops: Changchun University

Photo by Alice Bacani.

Photo by Alice Bacani.

Photo by Kelly Hurlburt.

Photo by Kelly Hurlburt. 

It was very much our responsibility, as performers throughout the rehearsal process, to work to create and practice movement exercises that would manifest as moments of research and cultural exchange. Through the methodology of movement workshops, improvisational scores, and performances, we were able to utilize movement as an exchange and dialogue amid students with whom our communication was intensely limited, if at all verbally existent. The intentions of these experiences was to not only develop a connection with students, but to challenge their perceptions in the realization of choice, habit or tendency. We wanted to give the Chinese students prompts, questions, or statements, forcing them to respond through dance.

For me, personally, the movement workshops were especially rewarding. I was touched by the way in which my partner and I, incapable of conversing verbally, were capable of directing and communicating with one another. My experience at Changchun University remains the most prominent in this realization of the communicative capacity of dance. The immediate vulnerability of revoking one’s eye-sight and replacing its absence by blind trust truly heightened my awareness of what it is to genuinely sense the presence of another being.

I was touched by his willingness to lead and be led. Although timid at first, I felt the way my partner’s body surrendered to my guidance, as the blade of his left shoulder gradually eased into the palm of my hand, obeying even the slightest change in placement or weight distribution; the energy of my palm, the call and his movement through space, the response.

This conversation was only enhanced through reciprocation, as I allowed him to blindly lead me about the studio, the touch of his hand against my back informing the way in which I moved. I listened for the dynamism of his touch, a gentle palm informing my body to respond with a whisper of soft, light motion, while a pressed, forceful palm inspired my movement to yell.

As a people, we’ve become so versed in this language of finance and politics, so literate in a communication of ‘who has this’ and ‘who wants that’. We scream across the globe a language of power and money, silencing the notion of humanness with words pursed through corrupted, dishonest, perhaps greedy, lips.

What if we could speak this language? A language that needs no words, but trusts movement? Converse in the opportunity to become versed in human vulnerability? And explore the human condition as it exists within each of us fundamentally, overwhelmingly, momentarily, and always.

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