On Very Human Behavior
Emily has fallen asleep. The house-on-a-factory-ground-in-a-desert is dead quiet. Even the mosquitoes are quiet – almost too quiet. I’m still awake and happily enjoying the silence after a few very busy and very LOUD days.
I had very few expectations of this trip. No matter how many emails you write and Skype calls you take, not a lot can prepare you for submersing yourself fully into a world, halfway around the world. The thing that have surprised me the most, is the incredible generousity and love we feel here in Chincha. Everyone is on your team, they want you here, they want to be in your classes, learn your choreography and spend time just hanging out with you. We live in a huge house on a factory ground in a pretty deserted area of Chincha, but in our home, we are at home and can come, go and eat as we please. We have 24 hour security and every time Emily naps, I go visit the horses in the backyard.
I had a conversation with Emily today about travelling abroad to dance. She had previously made the point that “it is not just something you do, Sarah” whereto I naively answered “isn’t it?”. I had my first international professional experience as a choreographer in South Korea in 2014, where I created work for the Qwangju Biennale and have been around the world as much as I can ever since. We spoke about how wonderful it is to create work out of London – it takes some of the pressure off. Abroad you aren’t judged with immediate disregard, your work is valued differently and you are able to create choreography for your actual audiences and not some swanky critic who just want to see you eat a banana on stage for 20 minutes. Here, I don’t have to persuade the local hip hop group to let me choreograph a contemporary piece on them. They are eager to learn and it is very clear, that they appreciate and respect what we have to bring. We saw this in Emily’s first contemporary class, where she had 10 teenage boys in flat caps and sneakers go barefoot to roll around on the floor. I think we need to bring some of this energy to London, make things a bit lighter in the Dance industry. I don’t know how we are going to do this, but the recent uproar re: Khan and female choreographers suggest we should all take our shoes off and roll around on the floor. Perhaps, to remember why we started doing this is the first place? (Note to Khan).
I have been astonished by the team we have been working with, especially Maja and Alexis. Maja has so much knowledge of Peru and Chincha – of who to talk to and where to go. She has given us local fruit to taste and made sure we got in the right taxis. In our classes, she participates fully and helps us translate when we need. She is a true gem to work with and has such a bright future ahead of her. Alexis is a product of Social Creativa. He used to attend classes and now not only teaches at Social Creativa, but also works for the company full time. On top of that, he runs a street dance group called DUNAXS. He has this impressive and very rare ability to read a situation and to lead a group with high energy and persuasion. If Alixis takes his shoes off, so does everyone else. If Alixis plies, so does everyone else. He is truly a star and Social Creativa are very lucky to have him! (I kind of want to pack him in my suitcase and take him back to Europe).
Today we hosted a Dance Party in an excluded part of Chincha called Salas. These parties are to involve the children in our project, who are too young to be in the show. A few of our planned activities didn’t go to plan, but instead we ran around an open field and bravely entered their version of a haunted house. They didn’t need the plan to go to plan. All they needed from us was to be present.
Can we learn something from that?
(yes we can and it’s up to you to figure it out)
So our first week here in Chincha Alta can probably be described with the following sentence: Faith in humanity, restored.
Before I finish this post I have to tell you about how Emily has been incredible to have on board. In addition to teaching fantastic classes, she is known as the prima ballerina and the community LOVES her (It’s actually quite funny, she has admirers all over town). She understands me and she knows exactly how to do the things I have no clue of how to do. Stuff like creating a Google drive, adding mailboxes, writing up a readable schedule and putting on the kettle (sometimes the easiest things are the hardest to do). Her skills have helped me understand what Making Dance Happen really is and what we actually do as a company. So expect changes and additions to this website soon – and if you want to come on board, hit us up!
It’s firstname.lastname@example.org (Thanks, Emily!)