Weeks ago I was sitting in my backyard reading about a poem Denise Levertov wrote called In Obedience. It’s an elegy for her father and in it she tells of doing a wild solitary dance among the fireflies in a New England garden one night, while my father lay dying, in London.’ She writes that it was a joyful dance and also a dance of love and mourning. Later she learned that just before her father died, he got up out of his bed in London to dance the Hasidic dance of praise. Both dancing in their grief, not with or for one another, they were connected across their physical distance by the passing of this story and the writing of her poem.
The other day I was jostled into a memory. Simply walking up a short set of stairs, my body suddenly remembered what day it was. I say it was my body remembering because that is where I felt it. It was not a thought connected to a date and time. It was not a moment connected to a memory. It was a physical interaction with time - a sudden condensation of time and place. I wondered what this sudden feeling was and then my mind caught up... And then I remembered.
The Brooklyn Commune’s Cultural Democracy and Representation Team, led by Kyoung H. Park, has created a series of interviews with artists and arts leaders to address issues of diversity and social inclusion in contemporary performing arts. Over the course of the next few months, we will highlight interviews with artists who are in conversation with our team to ask ourselves how we can insure that people from all points on the age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and cultural spectra have a place in the conversation.
This has been happening my whole life. Salmon brings me to harvest with my family, brings me across Kachemak Bay in Alaska to learn fish-skin sewing from Audrey Armstrong, brings me to awe as I watch them swim upstream, brings people to my table again and again, and brings me here, to Vermont Performance Lab. Of course, in this case, we had to arrange for the wild salmon to be here.
"When I danced and felt my sadness move out of me, pull like threads from my body and disperse into the air like millions of particles of dust, I knew I would be forever grounded in the act of dancing and making dances."