Dance as Protest (for all the choreographers out there):

January 29, 2015

We live in a world, well okay; we live in a country that provides us with the freedom of speech. Right? As artists, however, I think it is important that we remember we have more than speech at our disposal. We have more crayons in the box, more tools in the tool kit. So why do I find that many artists sit back and watch the action? We may speak, but we are hesitant to create.

I promise I will not take you on one of my long philosophical musings about the meaning of art, and how contemporary actualizes itself as contemporary—but I just could not help but ponder this issue as protests pop up all around us, from the Midwest to our own backyard.

I would argue that a dancer’s life in and of itself is a protest—a disagreement or disapproval of normalcy. I know this is true in my own life. An artist often chooses to forgo the 9-5 paycheck for a gig-by-gig stipend. An artist chooses a gypsy life, over a home with a mortgage. An artist chooses his or her art voice, over unhappiness that breeds the title “success”. I applaud those that make this choice, but the issue that rings in my mind hinges on this choice already being made, and disapproves of the stagnancy that often follows.

Picasso’s Guernica is a response to the bombing of a Basque country village during the Spanish Civil War. This work has become a reminder of the tragedies of war—and an embodiment of peace. The Green Table, a choreographic masterpiece by Kurt Joos depicts futile peace negotiations of the 1930s. Even a romantic ballet, such as Giselle, comments on social class—peasantry versus aristocracy.

So, this I ask—what does your work say? Do you create? I urge you (and myself) to not allow mimicry, and regurgitation to be the foundation of artistry. Being an artist, and dancing… in my opinion, is about seeing the world—it is about perspective. What you do with that perspective is your art, your stamp, your dance. Take a look at the past, do some research on the here and now—what are people saying? How would you say it? What do you protest?

Create. Create. Create.

We have too much destruction already.

Know a work that makes a statement? Please share below.

– Kylie Michelle Phillips
Operations Manager, Steps on Broadway

Photo: Alex Masi

Dance as Protest (for all the choreographers out there):