Last week, Chris asked several of us to come to his recording studio. He was playing with inserting some of our voices into his work. One of the questions he asked me was "What do you hope your dancers will get out of this process?"
I was surprised by the question. Usually, choreographers are asked, "what do you hope your audience will take away from the work?"
But there has been a great deal of work on the part of my dancers... more than just what the audience will see in twenty-five minutes.
My present (and I believe this will continue far into the future) research goal addresses understanding the body as a form of empowerment. An idea can't be destroyed as long as the body in which that idea inhabits exists. Throughout history, violence is enacted when one body takes control over another body. Our society is heavy with dis-empowering messages, especially regarding the body. The media is laden with images of how the body should look and move. Corporate America decides what we put into our bodies and how our bodies are taken care of - or not taken care of, as evidenced in the current health care crisis. I believe that if a person is empowered through a knowledge of his/her body, that person is more likely to take responsibility to for the care of his/her body. In taking responsibility for one's self, the individual also takes responsibility for his/her surrounding environment. There is more to this that I'm still working out, but I believe there is a strong (if only potential) relationship between dance, individual empowerment, and positive social change.
Dance is an empowering force. Dance involves, requires, demands a holistic understanding of the working, moving body. Dance requires knowledge of the anatomy. Dance requires knowledge of the psyche. Dance requires knowledge of space and time - environmental awareness. I believe (and have seen evidence in the classes that I've taught) that dance empowers individuals by allowing them to have a multi-dimensional relationship with their bodies.
Back to Chris's question... My hope for my dancers is that, through this process, they've developed a deeper awareness of their bodies and the stories that their bodies tell. I hope they learn to notice the habits of their bodies - both positive and negative. I hope they've gained a new knowledge about their bodies and will continue this process after the performance ends. I hope that they will use this knowledge about their bodies to make positive changes within themselves, and therefore, make positive changes to influence their environment. I hope that they've learned and grown from this process as much as I have from them.
A friend posted this on her Facebook page, and I find it relevant to my hopes for this process and for my dancers: