We are destroying ourselves: a dance wrecking
We are destroying ourselves is a durational performance and embodied conversation that asks can destruction be an act of care?
We are destroying ourselves literally and metaphorically stages a conversation with white supremacy and American Modern Dance using the form of the dance wrecking. In these wrecking events we invite a guest choreographer to publicly dismantle, remake, and share a volume from our series my body as the topic coming around again. The wrecking is a compelling way to question received dance traditions; expose audiences to choreographic process; and explore what collective practices of decolonization can look like.
Since 2020 my collaborators and I have been developing a three-volume dancework that unravels the tangled threads of white womanhood and American modern dance. Centered around Land, (In)Visibility, and Caring, these dances traverse dualities of freedom/control; sincerity/satire; tenderness/violence; beauty/monstrosity.
Vol. 1: Land (2021) asks “how does it feel to dance on stolen land?” Created for the Dorothy Strelsin Memorial Garden in the Lower East Side, it considers how we have been taught to imagine sites and bodies as empty spaces to be staged and occupied. The work excavates the histories we stand on, creates a map of our training, and uses strategies of autoethnography to trace its own creation.
Vol 2: (In)Visibility (2022) uses satire and horror to exaggerate the constant (in)visibility of white female bodies. With looping devices and absurd, fragmented text, it disarms the viewer as it amplifies the power negotiations at work on stage and in life. As the volume continues it breaks apart as dancers question their own complicity and willingness to be seen.
Vol 3: Caring (2023) will be completed in Spring ‘23. It is searching for a way forward, asking how strategies of care and attention can provide a means to a more liberated practice. In this final volume of the work we ask what can be salvaged as we work towards regeneration and new ways of training, thinking, and being in our bodies.
In we are destroying ourselves: a dance wrecking we extend this conversation outwards to a larger community, acknowledging that the work of decolonizing dance cannot be done alone.
The project has been funded in part by Trinity College Faculty Research Grant, CT Office of the Arts Fellowship, Axis/Access Residency from APE and SCDT, Snowed in Residency, and the Garland Distinguished Fellowship from Hambidge Center for the Arts.
Photos: Shige Moriya/LEIMAY Arts, John Atashian, Peter Raper
Pictured: Ellen Smith Ahern, Theo Armstrong, Alexis Robbins, Taylor Zappone