Here is Breathing in the Other, Jose Luis Benavides’ post reflection on Body As Source, the most recent 2013 Moving Dialog event featuring Awilda Rodriguez Lora, Darrell Jones and Dr. Ananya Chatterjea, on Tuesday, October 29th at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago:
Darrell Jones is a tall and enigmatic man. He has an air of sternness to his gaze that is graciously offset by his giant smile. Awilda Rodriguez Lora is warm, absolutely inviting in her every gesture and complete awareness of others. And Dr. Ananya Chatterjea is as much charismatic as she is engaging and inviting in her approach to discourse.
You have to approach dancers or professional body/movement artists with your whole self. You can’t sulk in the distance, or meekly approach the circle with any reservations. That in mind, I drop off my bag and coat, stuffed with unnecessary shyness on the empty audience chairs and approach the circular arrangement of seats on the stage, ready for a dialog that moves, intellectually and emotionally, a conversation that makes you move, jolting the body out of apathetic consumption and social inertia.
The artists finalize their coordination for the evening and as the group of 30 or so people fill the room, we begin the work of deconstructing our approach to movement and dance, dissecting our conceptions of certain gestures such as standing or walking up a flight of stairs. We consider our bodies’ link to larger social structures. To explore the distance between our own bodies and the other, several microphones circle the room asking us to speak up and chime in as much as possible, at moderator and Moving Dialogs curator Baraka de Soleil’s steady prompt. Darrell begins, leading us through several activities. He takes in the audience as participants and practitioners, students and fans of dance. We began to level our place between words, ideas and action.
The intention of the evening seems clear: to help us break down the fourth wall. Somewhere between workshop, presentation, informal lecture and conversation, Awilda dances into, on and over the audience. She pulls people into her breath and cautiously invites the audience to hold her up in her clear experimentation. We are not only viewers, but soundboard, source, catalysts for her exploration.
Dr. Ananya takes us on a conversational walk through her major principles of movement and practice. She reminds us of our stance, our footing, our connection to and balance with the earth, the lumbar and the pelvis as derived from her cultural heritage, linking contemporary practice with tradition. We are observers, perhaps, only because of time. Time is not on our side. Before we know it, two hours pass in much the same way the microphone moves between our hands, in a counter-clockwise motion. However, we can not reverse or slow down the night any more than we can hold onto the evening or contain the conversation to one stagnant idea.
Fluidity, reflexivity and openness might be the themes of the evening, if one had to sum it up. But why bother? Why categorize or classify the simple and organic flow of one night, and one conversation. As we wrap up the evening with the constant attention to transitions and pleasant coaxing away from audience comfort zones by Baraka, there is a sense that we might all truly see each other, we might all breathe in a subtle portion of each other. What lingering effusiveness connecting us is truly ours.