Writings on (re)MOVE: (re)TURN | April 2016 (Post 2/3)

Photo Karen Mason Blair

Photo Karen Mason Blair

(re)MOVE: Back Towards Again the (re)TURN Facing
Performed April, 2016
Velocity Dance Center
Seattle, WA

An evening of dance and live music ventures into personal and feminist injustices of the earth and the female body, with original compositions by Michael Owcharuk, Nate Omdal and internationally-recognized, Wayne Horvitz.

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The world is not a problem to be solved; it is a living being to which we belong. The world is part of our own self and we are part of its suffering wholeness. Until we go to the root of our image of separateness, there can be no healing.
— Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, author and Sufi mystic

(re)MOVE is a 70 minute dance with music by three Seattle composers interwoven throughout. Movements I & II from These Hills of Glory by Wayne Horvitz are followed by The Upward Spiralby Michael Owcharuk (specially composed for KSD). Movements III and IV from These Hills of Glory resume, leading to the final piece: Nate Omdal’s new work for KSD, A Day in the Life.

In our own country, the denigration of women continues to be perpetuated through false belief systems. The recent debate concerning racism and reporting sexual assault by immigrant men in Europe reveals the depth of cultural and religious female hatred. I have known for awhile about modern day sex ­trafficking and the rampant sexual violence toward women in the American college system. But a further awakening for me was coming.

When Michael Owcharuk started sending me his new music for our show together, I had finished reading Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I was horrified. White American middle class women like me tend to decry what affects us directly: lack of equal pay, family leave support in the US, and so on. Hirsi Ali’s book shocked me with its information about the religious misogyny not in the Middle East or Asia, but prevalent in the western world. Her book shone light on more sinister things than I had thought. These evils of our time reveal a deep ancient cancer.

As I listened to Owcharuk’s new music, kinetic images began to surge through me. The Upward Spiral was created independently of my own brooding. The title is an appropriate image for my own impetus. Could I let my movement rise in spirals, like an offering, for the global and age ­old transcendent injustice toward women? Could my offering bring transformation in the 21st century?

The original incarnation of this section was called Their Constant Cry is Upon My Face, a title taken from a TED Talk by a Kenyan Maasai, Kakenya Ntaiya. I had also been reading Half the Sky. My broodings: female genital mutilation; rape as a weapon in war; immurement of women throughout time; removal from any possibilities of advancement; sexual exploitation and slavery; female infanticide…and western, white, middle class me. From a complacent, imperious culture I called home, aching to help women of the world, entangled in evils perpetuated by countries like mine for ostensibly complex reasons….

I am not attempting to make a narrative work about one specific global problem for women. Nor am I attempting to address my personal experience with religious and institutionalized scapegoating and sequestering of the female voice. Yet all these concerns, global and personal, past and present, are embodied in this section, merging with Owcharuk’s music.

A dear friend has shared with me many times that a woman of color must first deal with being of color before she is able to respond as a woman, to other women. This section is perhaps an atonement, and a lament. Generations of white sisters, like me, have long left our sisters of color suffering— far too long.

At thinking moments, I often feel foolish. Here I am, dancing with four white women, trying to embody experiences from other cultures as best we can understand them. But then, I remember: this is important. We can and must understand. White women, wake up! Go forth and move for justice! It is beyond time!

Here is video from the first iteration, performed as a commission for People. Make. Awesome. 2014: Short excerpts  |  Full version

I knew after completing this work that a deeper journey was just beginning. The larger work continued to unfold…


Karin Stevens Dance