In dance, choreography has come to mean, “the art or practice of designing sequences of movements of physical bodies (or their depictions) in which motion, form, or both are specified.” This definition finds new meaning in Danielle Goldman’s I Want To Be Ready, as it explores the relationship of the body in dance movements and social movements, bringing forth the notion of ‘choreography in protest’.
According to scholar Susan Foster, during the 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle, activists consciously positioned their bodies in relation to changing constraints and structures of power. Barbara Browning further explores the choreography of political struggle, urging her readers to consider the “choreographic force” (96) of nonviolent noncooperation which “requires a technique of the body which in many ways resembles what contemporary choreographers refer to as release technique.” (96) Drawing examples from the activists of the “Freedom Ride” (designed by the Congress of Racial Equality during the American Civil Rights movement), Foster reveals how when bodies move in stillness or in falling, they function as a form of political protest through choreography.
Given our class discussion on choreography being the structure and/or framework through which a narrative is told in dance, as well as the role of a choreographer in giving direction and intent to a work of art, this notion of ‘choreography in protest’ seems highly relevant to our course. If choreography is that which gives meaning to movement, then dance becomes a means of not just artistic expression, but of expressing a political stance. And by moving beyond the space of performance and into real world crises, choreography adds a new, arguable more substantial, meaning to the movement being enacted.
Works CitedWikipedia, the free encyclopedia "Choreography." Accessed 8 Jan 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choreography.
One writing comment – titles of books should be italicized when you cite then in a text.
Obviously there are many political valences to choreography. There are arrangements of sequences that seem more militaristic – they teach discipline and obedience to a choreographic vision and don't allow for the dancer to think about movement in relation to the situation. The notion of improvisation is a kind of thinking and bodily reaction to a situation — and while some types of body movement fit one situation, that movement might be a problem in others. If we think about what you highlight, the idea of "choreography in protest" – the first element is a somatic awareness and an ability to respond with moves that resist or evade the design of oppression. I wonder, now that you've returned from working in the camps, how you think of the way that you moved with the kids as a kind of preparation for their lives past the camps, where the dancing body gives them ways to continue to feel joy against the hardship of the camps and the depression that can often accompany a constricted life. Also, what about the collective formation that you worked with? While many can dance alone, what is it about the collective form that you organized that might teach ways to advocate or protest for better living conditions and more rights? Organized dance is a powerful feeling on its own, no matter what the formation – but you were the one who choreographed to "thunder, feel the thunder." How was that choice of organizing a dance also conveying a sense of somatic empowerment?