Participatory Dance Theatre Experience
When describing the difference between ritual and performance, Anna Halprin, an American choreographer and dancer, who helped redefine dance in postwar America and pioneer the experimental art form known as postmodern dance, states that it is our attitude when we’re in it that makes all the difference.
She goes on to explain that it is about an agreement that we set with people before we start working on a given piece that deals with a chosen subject matter --
“this is a ritual and a ritual means that you’re going to change something and that you’re doing something that’s bigger than yourself and you’re not doing it for yourself only. It only works through you. “
(from an interview by Nancy Stark Smith in “Leaning Into Ritual” Moving Toward Life: Five Decades of Transformational Dance (1995), p. 205).
Drawing on Halprin’s notion of ritual and on artivistic practices, it is evident that each of us is an agent of change. Especially when we agree to act as one. When we come into our power and acknowledge our value in the world.
Participatory Art, like ritual, has transformative power.
In this specific performance “Birthing Shadows” we embodied birth.
Each participant was to deliver their own life while honoring and leaving behind a certain something of thier past life.
By drawing on cross cultural practices of embodiment we learned and unlearned together.
In so doing we establish a community of learners who acknowledge, manifest and take responsibility over our cultural and natural roles as agents of change.