In dance, choreography has come to mean,[tome_reference id=”1132″ biblio-id=”1129″] “the art or practice of designing sequences of movements of physical bodies (or their depictions) in which motion, form, or both are specified.”[/tome_reference] 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.