Workshop on Dance and Migration

How do we feel in our skins? How do we create spaces with our bodies? These are questions that participants of the one-day long dance workshop in “Contact Improvisation” and “Parcon” with Aurora Westfelt asked themselves.

Students at the workshop on dance and migration

The idea of the workshop was to offer an alternative space in which to understand and perceive oneself and one’s environment in a reflective and intuitive manner. During this day, dance was used as a political tool to reflect upon and re-negotiate one’s positions and behaviour in social spaces, to explore the connection of body, space, movement and society. In relation to migration, the workshop showed that dance can be a useful means to confront ideas of hierarchy, otherness and identity. The workshop was held on May, 27th 2018 at Campus Norrköping and was initiated by Esther V. Kraler, student of the Master’s program in “Ethnic and Migration Studies”.

In the first part of the workshop, the focus lied on connecting with oneself and one’s body, to try out what feels good for oneself and to leave every image of how one should move, or should be, aside. Before participants were coming into physical contact with each other, it was practiced how to communicate a ‘no’ when someone does not feel like dancing together or moving at all. Since in society a ‘no’ often does not count or has to be explained or excused, it sometimes is difficult to go through with one’s refusal. This exercise of refusal/consent therefore represented a valuable complementation to the workshop experience for the whole group.
Students on the workshop on dance and migration
In the second part of the workshop, inspired by “Parcon”, participants moved outside of the dance room and into public space. It was aimed at exploring how being surrounded by other people shapes one’s movement and comfort, how one can connect to the environment in alternative, non-normative ways. It was reflected upon how certain movements have become habits even though they might not feel comfortable or have not been consciously chosen by oneself. It was strived to find movements and locations in space that speak to oneself and to detect what feels good or not, where and why.

What accompanied many of the participants during the workshop was the question of how efficient the socio-political shifts are that dance can bring about. To move ‘freely’ and to reflect on behavior in social spaces is a possibility that not everyone gets. The dance workshop was an attempt to open this space for everyone but in reality did not manage to do so. This was reflected in the group of participants who were all defined by certain physical functionalities, class, gender and race notions. Nevertheless, “Contact Improvisation” and “Parcon” carry high potential for widening norms of movement, creating emancipatory spaces and opening up an understanding about oneself in relation to the outside world.

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