On February 12th, I was invited by my artist, dancer and activist friend Magnolia to attend an event filled with a variety of community artist and activist at Bedlam Theater. Hosted by Gazillion Strong, a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of resources and tools that aid marginalized communities
(http://www.wearegazillionstrong.org/), Sex, Dance, and Rock & Roll brought together community members to support the voices and communities of the indigenous people and people of color (POC).
Performing that night was the Ananya Dance Theater which was founded in 2004 by Ananya Chatterjea
A Life Underground, a hardcore rock band consisting of friends who found each other through their differences (https://www.facebook.com/undergrounders246)
See More Perspective, a politically-and-culturally-conscious hip-hop artist (https://seemoremusic.bandcamp.com/album/sex-tape-or-my-response-to-our-morbidly-underdeveloped-sex-education).
Voice, Power, and Movement: Horidraa: Golden Healing, 2016 http://www.ananyadancetheatre.org/about/touring/ In general, performances are entertaining and connections that are made in real time with beginnings and endings, however I want to focus on the Ananya Dance Theater (ADT) and what it means to be a participant and observer in their work.
The Ananya Dance Theater (ADT) presented Horidraa: Golden Healing, a piece which engaged the entire space in movements and sounds. Though it was my first experience with ADT, based on this one performance I knew that ADT works to curate radical and provocative ways to experience storytelling.
Viewers could not look away from this performance as everyone was brought into a spiritual journey where movement and gestures were made recognizable and yet not recognizable. Right off the bat, the performance set a peculiar tone. The sounds and movements animated the space and the audience were made to let go of their preconceived notions of dance and to solely rely on feels. It was unsettling and uncomfortable hearing the guttural cries of pain, anger, and the huffing and puffing of exhaustion. Their movements went from subtle and pleasing to jarring, grotesque, sad, and pungent. I was a sensory overload, I constantly told myself to take things as they come. In my opinion, the Ananya Dance Theater was re-educating people on how to listen and feel someone's stories.
In particular this performance felt like a personal narrative told in the lens of someone who comes from a different world, yet recognizable despite the unfamiliarity of the movements. It was a humbling experience as I believe many audience members were left feeling unsettled and wanting to know more about the context of the work. Though it’s important to have context, I think it really works for this particular piece to have audience members come into the space without any notions of what they are seeing and experiencing in front of them, heightening the importance of what is contemporary dance.
Coming from a small city where POC and indigenous people had no presence, Sex, Dance and Rock n Roll blew my mind away. As I become more familiar with the Twin Cities area, I’m beginning to understand how powerful the voices of POC and indigenous communities can be when there are support systems and especially when there are strong advocators who come together to create. This event creates awareness of these communities and enforces the basic human connections that have been disrupted overtime.