Permission to dance

26/09/2012 12:17:44 AM

by: Serene Huleileh

Art is the continuous “miracle” of creation/narration, of transcending the mundane of every day life, providing assurances that there is hope always, a light within the tunnel. More so, art is almost always about making a statement, to oneself before others. But what statement are we making when we dance?

Dancers and dance groups in Jordan and Palestine have been struggling over the years to define their own form of “contemporary dance” that might or might not derive from “folkloric traditions” or from Western modern dance forms. Perhaps in the more conservative segments of society where it is taboo to call oneself a “dancer”, we find it easier to wear the “legitimate” guise of folklore, while the “upper classes” with an eye to the West prefer ballet and other more modern dance forms which seems more “chic” and “trendy” and sets them apart from a history (and present) they wish to forget.

So what is contemporary then? When we talk about contemporaneity we are talking about time and space, a setting for the artistic creation. The current contemporary setting is very complex: on the one hand we have the economic hegemonic “globalization” which destroys boundaries and identities, and on the other hand we have the counter-globalization movement which asserts identities within a changing world. And in between we have the indifferent masses who feel helpless in face of all these powers. Art, including dance, cannot escape these dichotomies and, what’s even more difficult, cannot survive (if it thrives on independence) within any of them.

Hence, we will always be walking a thin line between the “popular” which could be either extremely political or void of meaning, or “marginal” which is more philosophical and inward looking. However, there exists a level of the artistic/creative act where art becomes life, and life becomes art. This can only be achieved if artists immerse themselves in life for “creation” and creativity rather than think of the creative and artistic act as something that takes place within “studios” and away from people.

Within this context we can view this months’ performance of the Jordanian-Palestinian-Dutch contemporary dance co-production, Waiting Forbidden, that will premiere at Al Balad theatre on 28 and 29 October. It is contemporary inasmuch as it questions itself and its context and defines its own terms rather than uses ready-made ones. To do this questioning the choreographers and dancers assumed their own space for reflection, experimentation, and dialogue. The conditions for this space, reflection, and dialogue were set by all parties (the dancers, choreographers, producers, and the audience), are not done in one language or in one setting nor are they uni-directional: dialogue by definition has to be both ways, and both have to listen and suspend judgment.





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