Since last writing for The Dancer-Citizen, our ongoing collaborative Dancing Exile project in Hamburg, Germany has continued to develop, pursuing connections between disparate histories of forced migration to and from the city through dance partnering and ensemble improvisations. After an initial movement workshop on the subjects of dance and migration in June 2016 (Issue 3), core members of the project met for a weeklong creative residency on related topics in December of that year culminating in an evening of performance, called “The Art of Confusion” (Issue 4). This second iteration reflected on the process of working together across languages, expectations, and contexts, focusing on the confusing art of immigration policy against the frustrating and often darkly funny nature of mistranslation.
Hannah Schwadron and Sakhi Poya then continued to work closely (and across continents) through the Spring of 2017; Hannah went back to teaching in Florida while Sakhi stayed in Hamburg completing German language classes and waiting for news of his asylum. Their facebook, video, and voice record experiments invested in the creative potential of remote contact. Geographical distance gave way to reflections on other kinds of proximity; their closeness or farness to the events of migration, the similarities and differences in their lived perspectives, the ranging levels of familiarity with dance and visions of what the work of performance can do. These reflections became the source material for a talking-dancing score which the two presented at the Performance Studies International conference in Hamburg in June 2017.
Later that month, they joined with Zaher, Alireza, Chako, and Benny for the next performance workshop; this one asking what migration stories can bring to practices of dance improvisation and vice versa, where the constancy of change is ever present in both cases and the question of choice is always charged. The resulting short film Between I and Thou documents the days together working on these themes. The title, inspired by Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber’s I and Thou (1923), frames the hybrid docu-dance as a series of improvisatory encounters between participants as they navigate relationships to place and each other.