Intersecting Policy and Dance: Inquiry into Political Bodies

Presented at Dance Under Construction XI Conference at UC Riverside

April 16, 2010.

Policy is the careful construction of words aimed to change or improve a community; dance is the careful construction of movement that communicates to or influences an audience. Intersecting Policy and Dance is a choreographic research presentation exploring how the policy-making process and the choreographic process can inform one another in terms of construction, negotiation, revision, process, and presentation. Through the physical explorations of policy-making and policy issues, new choreographic models emerge and comment on policy writing models, negotiation strategies within the policy-making process, and the affects of human relationships on policy creation. This creative project is aimed at exploring actual policy that affects the human self; policy writing as a source for choreographic work; and how a moving bodies can ultimately be a site to alter policy creation.

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Processing Policy and Movement

I started work on a solo today exploring the connection between policy negotiations, the process of writing, adjusting, and organizing language to best solve problems for the ‘bettering’ of a group.  I am working towards connecting this idea to the physical negotiations that occur to solve movement problems.  Using policy and physical language I am constructing a piece that reveals the dancer in the problem solving moment.  This may mean multiple repetitions of a similar phrase but with varying answers.  It differs from theme and variation in a few ways: I want to see the human body struggle to solve it, it may be removing out the body out of the ‘performative’ mode to a ‘practice’ mode to accomplish the problem, I also want to use improvisation as part of the final piece so the body is truly negotiating.  I am interested in the presentation of policy solutions and the juxtaposition of solving/creating policy.  I expect this piece to be layered with a ‘final’ product as well as show with the ‘rough draft’ or ‘processing draft.’

The process so far has been very rewarding.  I am finding physical habits and/or set policies in the body that need to be questioned as well as rewritten, or possibly embraced and strengthened if necessary.  Creating a window of opportunity — when significant people or players work together to find a space to make change in policy, also happens on a physical level and I am discovering the multiple ways in which to set up and take advantage of physical windows of opportunity.  I am working on this solo for the spring adjudication at OSU and will use the process and possibly some of the created material for my thesis.


I am currently in the process of writing my proposal for my MFA project at OSU. Since last year I have become increasingly more interested in political and world issues and using dance as the medium to explore those issues. Recently I presented an article entitled, “Dance and Human Rights” by Naomi Jackson. This article discussed how dance can further human right abuses or alleviate them. Through my research I discovered an interesting questions. To what degree are human rights and expressive rights protected? Are they considered equal? if not, when expression is limited what does that do to the development of an individual? Naomi stated, ” The control of the body and the body’s behavior is a larger indication to political control.”control-of-body

Through this research I have come to understand that restraints, restrictions, or manipulations put on the body are an indication of political power and control. Historically, when genocides or ethnic cleansing occurs, why are the artists some of the first attacked, imprisoned, or killed? What is the threat of expression itself? And should the expression of individuals, and to take it a step further, the artistic expression of individuals be protected to the same degree as ‘human rights’?


I am writing a current proposal for a final project.  It is in a working stage and the final copy will be posted.


The arts have often been used as a tool in addressing political and social  issues in a bold, persuasive, and creative approach.  The impact arts have on these issues can influence people and organizations to take a closer look at  difficult human conditions.  Dance specifically is the art that most closely works within the human realm as the body is the tool and instrument of expression and exploration.   Through the medium of the body and dance I hope to explore political and social issues; finding a way to connect people to the larger world around them, and to connect them to dance itself. I am interested in using dance to raise awareness of political injustices and human right issues that demoralize humanity.  Dance is a way to face those issues and communicate resolutions in motivating and inspirational ways.  My intent is to use various experts in other fields to help stimulate my creative process.  I will collaborate with not only dancers, but with other graduate students in various departments interested in using their work to discuss world issues.    My intent is two fold: first, to connect dance  to the larger world through content material of human right issues; and second,  to expose my creative works through  integrated various professionals interested in further human rights work.
My design of the project will be an organized formal showing and discussion of various works committed to human right issues.  This is expected to include a full evening of works from graduates in political science,  public policy,  international relations, art, music, film, etc.  This will include showings of my chorographic work,  using instillation s and collaboration of other artists (musicians, writers, visual artistic).  The evening is dedicated to the power of collaborative work in influencing a wide audience range to be aware of social and political issues.
Procedure    ____________________________________________________________
My procedure will include great efforts in collaborate and join together various students in presenting work in an artistic evening presentation; this will include gathering interested individuals.  I will be preparing flyers, surveys, etc to find interested individuals in other graduate work to participate in the evening of works.   I will be organizing meetings to discuss our work, interest, and aims; collaborating ways in which our form may be useful to further the study or presentation of human right issues.  As these discussions take place each individual will prepare, research, and create material to be presented that evening.   Once each individual  has prepared their work, I will then find ways to cross-connect and integrate our work to be presented in a full evening performance.   Through the expertise of each individual I hope to find new methods of the creative process,  choreography and improvisational techniques, and explore a variety of stimulus for my movement material.  As my interest is in forming new collaborations and discovering new audiences,  this evening of work will be an attempt at  exploring the benefits of combining efforts to further  awareness of political and social issues.  interested in furthering human rights work, I hope to use a unique space for the performance such as the Urban Arts Center downtown, but I am also open to other spaces on campus.
My qualifications for this work include previous choreographic work dealing with political oppression and liberation, and participating in a fundraising even (in collaboration with political science and international relation programs) to fight hunger in developing countries.  I am currently pursuing approval for a graduate minor in pubic policy as well as an internship opportunity with the National Arts Association in Washington D.C.


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