Lessons Learned from the Past: Movement, Memory and the Stateless: Part II

Hannah Schwadron and Malia Bruker

Lessons Learned from the Past: Movement, Memory, and the Stateless: Part II

A follow up from Schwadron's work in Issue 3: Lessons Learned from the Past: Movement, Memory, and the Stateless

Hannah Schwadron, researcher/choreographer; Malia Bruker, videographer/editor; Cesar Lopez, co-editor

The video footage posted here offers a visual account of the movement workshop discussed in Hannah Schwadron’s “Lessons Learned From the Past: Movement, Memory, and the Stateless” included in Issue 3 of The Dancer-Citizen on the subjects of Jewish history, contemporary refugeeism, and the potential of intercultural artistic collaboration.

After this, dance and film collaborators Hannah Schwadron and Malia Bruker traveled back to Hamburg, Germany in December 2016 for an additional week of movement workshops on the subject of “Dancing Exile.” New participants joined returning members of the May 2016 workshop to think and move through the possibilities of improvisation as a mode of storytelling, specifically in relation to experiences of migration past and present. We were grateful for the access to workspace at Gangeviertel, an arts complex dedicated to experimentation and activism, where the group danced, drank tea, and did our best to communicate about all that had taken place in the months since we’d seen each other. As it had before, dance became the medium through which participants connected most powerfully, synching up with each other in ways that language and status did not.

At the end of the week, we shared an evening of improvisation created around the experience of collaborating itself. As a kind of meta-comment on the mistranslations, conflicting expectations, unexpected affinities, and the sheer joy of being together, we named the culminating performance “The Art of Confusion.” The title, based on phrase a local activist used to describe the current political climate where policy and protocol around asylum shifts too rapidly to keep up, also aptly framed the time together, which was as rewarding as it was confusing. After all, and as members of the audience wanted to know, what was our commitment to each other? Where would we go from here?

In June of this year, Hannah continues the collaboration with members of the group, presenting the latest developments of the project at the Performance Studies International conference also in Hamburg. Together, they will present talk and dance scores that reflect on the work of dance and storytelling when cross cultural communication breaks down and builds back up. The task reflects on the project of representation and its inevitable failures in this context as in so many others, aiming in its wake to bring a bit of humor to heavy situations where it may be most needed.