Sunday, May 25, 2014

DECATUR ARTS FESTIVAL 2014: New Dance invites us to think about new ways of understanding movement and ourselves

A LIFE WELL SEASONED. This photo depicts the conclusion of Beacon Dance's performance, "A Life Well Seasoned," at the Decatur Arts Festival's "New Dance" hour-long performance with 5 different dance groups. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for DANCE! And Hallelujah for that adjective "NEW." When put together, NEW DANCE offers us new ways of understanding movement and ourselves.

The Decatur Arts Festival 2014 brought my city a rich hour-long performance titled, "Breaking New Ground: New Dance at the Decatur Arts Festival." Beacon Dance, collaborating with the Decatur Arts Festival to provide this performance, is dedicated to furthering social justice and the protection of the natural world while developing an appreciation of contemporary dance.

As I have deepened my own appreciation for moving creatively in the two years, I have also grown curious about dance as it is occurring in my environment. What does it mean when Beacon Dance makes the statement that it uses dance to further social justice? Does it mean being FREE TO BE WHO WE ARE--Each and every one of us?

Let's explore what occurred in the hour-long performance this Memorial Day weekend in Decatur at the end of May 2014.

THIS IS LOVE. Lynn Hesse and Ella Johannaber moved and dialogued about their personal perspectives of love. One of the questions they debated in their dance is "Love work or play"? Although the piece was rehearsed, it also maintains a sense of improvisation, with each of the four performances this weekend at the festival being different. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)

STEEP CLIFFS. As soon as the first performance was completed, Alex Spitzer, a choreographer and dancer, wheeled out on the dance floor to music by Doug Appling, which made my spirits soar. My Chiboogamoo and I watched with delight as this wheelchair-bound dancer flew and spun circles right in front of us. Yes! Yes! to finding ways to express ourselves and to communicate that to others! (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
LOVE UNSPOKEN. Powerful in energy, pulse, sexuality, this collaborative dance touched me as an orchestrated healing ritual. The dancer Aviva describes this collaborative dance with Scott Houston as a way "to help release their relationship pain through recognition, whilst inspiring flight and empowerment concerning the word 'LOVE'". I was struck by the beauty and power of young flexible bodies. I feel a need to witness all generations, genders, abilities in movement. Such different energy is communicated by everyone. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE: AN OPUS FOR TWO IN D MINOR. Mesmerizing and complex, Jhon R. Stronks and Wayne M. Smith's improvisational performance moved to poetry scripted by Jhon ("") as well as Nikki Giovanni ("A Greater Love of God and Country")and Sonia Sanchez ("Counting Poem"). During the performance, Jhon also sings in a sweet lilting voice the song by Pete Seeger, "Where have all the flowers gone." To be honest, I would need to watch this intriguing piece several times to absorb the overall message. For now, I am left with curiosity and energized by being intrigued. And, yes, it felt strange for me to see a man in a dress. Why is that? I enjoy meeting myself at intellectual points of squeamishness and discomfort. From that place I can examine my own expectations I've learned from my cultural. At my heart, I want each and everyone of us to dress in whatever way we choose and to love whomever our hearts choose to love. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
A LIFE WELL SEASONED. Yes! It was fun to see Beacon Dancers (Lynn Hesse, Susan Keller, Ann Ritter, and Patton White) enter the dance floor carrying red chairs and dressed in all white except for a colored scarf, which each dancer had tucked somewhere on themselves. I am not quite sure what the dance was communicating, but I felt the importance of "community" in the performance. Whether the dancers were encircled in their chairs facing one another, taking turns, or moving at random, the connection they had to one another seemed significant. Overall, it felt like a ritualized life span spent in community. What is the individual in relation to other individuals over a life time? I will need to talk to some of the dancers to see, in fact, what they were striving to say. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for differences! Hallelujah for individuality and for what each one of has to contribute in the language of creative movement. What is NEW DANCE? Perhaps one answer is that it is what you and I make it for ourselves. I believe we might all benefit from dancing a NEW DANCE on behalf of ourselves and the world every day! 

That's Coffee With Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and tell me what you think of creative movement. How often do you dance and experiment with new ways of moving? What do you understand about dance as shown here in these images?
HALLELUJAH DANCING. In case you didn't recognize me, I, Hallelujah Truth, am on the far left dancing with my friends, Callahan, Dave, and Beverly at the Decatur Arts Festival 2014, after attending the hour-long performance of "New Dance" at our awesome Decatur Recreation Center.(photo by my beloved Chiboogamoo)


  1. To quote the Bee Gees' song "You should be dancing...yeah." I'm not sure if I can suss out the meaning of the dance piece via individual photos. That sort of the thing with dance, it's a compilation of movements, but they are lovrly images and I do get the spirit of the dance.
    As you already know, I am a great audience member for dance performances, but I don't dance much and when I do people question my motives.
    The first time I saw a man dressed in a dress during a dance performance it was Mark Morris dancing the part of Dido while wearing a sarong in his spectacular rendition of "Dido and Aeneas." Took me all of a second to forget about what he was wearing and to lose myself completely in the performance. As for dancing with chairs and love, a few years ago I saw Doug Elkin do a two person piece about love, marriage etc... called "Home." So much of the dancers' relationship to each other was conveyed in the positioning and movement of the chair. Lastly, as it appears I'm droning on, I once saw a performance where before it started the choreographer came out and said "This piece isn't about anything." Frankly, it was a relief to hear that. So Hallelujah for dance and Hallelujah that you live where it is freely available to go see.

    1. I read your words and savor them--especially the permission to let a dance be what it is and "this piece isn't about anything." We take in so much information all the time with the idea that we must do something with it. Why not let the experience be an "end" in itself? Thank you!

  2. What a fun and exciting date of watching the dancing performers..I agree with specialneedscat with having to be there it understand more of what they were communicating with each dance...Isn't It interesting that we look differently at men in dresses then women in pants...once upon a time men wore dresses and it was the wonder why we have decided to make it so differently strange in this day and age...I think I would rather see men in dresses then pants that hang to their knees and have to be held up with one hand..(smile)..any looked to be a great day out...Glad you had a good seeing you and Callahan made me smile...

    1. Yes Darlene! It was fun and exciting! So stimulating!