As a journal editor engaging in a curatorial-like process, I enjoy the way common themes and through-lines jump out at me from a collection of works. I learn something about myself, my process of interpretation and analysis, the way I create patterns to help me organize and understand information, and the way these patterns can at times make me feel a little saner and grounded in what often feels like a very destabilizing and chaotic environment. This is part of the joy of gathering submissions by asking only for contributors to offer their views on dancer-citizenship, rather than posing more specific questions, prompts, or themes. We know that this approach is sure to yield a wildly dynamic range of responses. From this array of perspectives, we can discern intersections, disparities, parallels, continuities, and departures. These relationships tell us something about dancer-citizenship - its broadness, its limitations, its ever-shifting and evolving nature.
In this issue, patterns are more difficult to discern. Very generally, I see that our contributors are thinking about implications of one’s practice in the context of globalism, or examining relationships between self and practice-led research (hence the title of this issue, The Global Self | The Self as Practice). When I let go of the need to identify (or create) connections between the works, I am able to more deeply engage with each contributor’s individual practice. They are negotiating issues of cultural appropriation and cultural border-crossing, grappling with the role of the artist in times of conflict, sharing practice-led research that creates space for participants to identify and hone their dance-making skills, critically examining collective action and activism in the U.S. through the lens of embodiment, embodying relationships between dance practice and public art, and pondering the effect of globalization and multiculturalism on human life.
While patterns make me feel grounded amidst chaos, I realize that practice makes me feel hopeful, and sometimes even a little safer in a world wrought with danger and violence. Through practice, dancer-citizens identify the danger, they call out the violence, they make visible that which is even more insidious when it is left unseen and unchecked. Our ever-shortening news cycle challenges my ability to remember, to keep track of and understand patterns of injustices. With the constant streaming images of atrocities nearby and around the world, I have to fight the temptation to shut it all out, and this terrifies me. The collective labor of dancer-citizenship provides multiple access points for people to see, remember, process, challenge, resist, understand, and create. Every time I learn about the work that dancer-citizens are doing, I breathe a little easier. I feel affirmed in my own practices and motivated to continue to further question and develop them. Dancer-citizens inspire me to engage more deeply in this collective doing that migrates in, out, and through our individual embodied realities situated within a global ethics of accountability and care.
Julie B. Johnson, Founding Editor