Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering "Place" on 9/11

Can a dance piece evoke memories of a physical place?

Common themes in pieces involve cultural ideas, characters, or narratives. Why not a physical location? What if the piece was performed at the place it was designed to evoke?

Today is September 11. We remember the attacks on American soil eight years ago. Artistic pieces themed on these events have sought meaning, healing, and understanding for those who suffered losses. New York is a renewed community years after 9/11. Thousands of stories have been told about the people. It's a place whose larger story will continue to unfold.

Why not tell this story through dance? After all, dance can powerfully remind us of the past in visual metaphors. It can create a picture to one voice or many voices that are involved in the story to be told. Perhaps easier than narrative film, dance can function on a symbolic level that is a form of visual poetry. Whether simple or complex, it moves us.

Today, we communicate faster and ingest information at rapid rates, but the idea of "place" should still have meaning for us. Our memories are often tied to a place: home, school, work, a vacation spot. When the artifacts of a place have disappeared with time - the physical stuff, buildings, trees, structures - we can still remember it vividly in the present through a performed art form like dance. Photographs capture a moment, but dance lets us see that moment in a poetic moving image.

Remembering, reflecting, and recalling are all part of healing. Even as our wounds heal with time, we need to find ways to deal with our memories. They allow us to give meaning to places that we've visited and what they mean to us today.

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