STATEMENT

Can choreography be a method for being prepared to die?

 

My choreographic practice is an ongoing investigation into choreography, equity, queering martial arts, rethinking and reimagining educational structures, death ritual, trauma, embodied knowledge, grief, intercultural and intracultural care practice, gender equity/anarchy, anti-racism, institutional disruption, collective liberation, resisting hetero and white supremacy, intimacy, pleasure, endurance, drag performance, the divine feminine, resilience, polyvagal theory, anatomical/biomechanical study and dance.

 

In 2014/15 as Artist Research Fellow of the Chalmers Family Fund, I engaged in a long term field research project investigating the embodiment of grief and community catharsis through death ritual in a variety of cultural contexts around the world. I have travelled discussing death, ritual, embodiment and performance of grief with healers, people close to death and the dying. At the close of this fieldwork, I have undertaken research in Brazil, visiting a medium supposed to lengthen the lives of believers; in Mexico, spending day of the dead with a curandera who removes energetic entities from people’s bodies; in India, witnessing women of the Rudali cult who are hired by families to cry at funerals to elicit grief in mourners; and in Sweden, where, until relatively recently, it was customary to wait up to a month to bury your dead. Parallel to this project, my partner and collaborator, Glamdrew Henderson, was diagnosed with and then died, at the age of 28, of a rare form of cancer called lymphoblastic lymphoma. Together, we made a performance/ choreography/ ceremony living funeral called Taking it to the Grave in Winnipeg, Manitoba in October 2016. Taking it to the Grave is based on my 2015 choreography, Truthteller.

What are the cultural questions and problems involved in instrumentalizing ritual as a way of resisting state control over queer bodies, in living, in dying and in death?

Can the choreography of ritual weaponize healing and put queers and transfolks in advantageous positions as we age and die while at the same time remaining anti assimilationist?

 

How do we center practice, proximity and collective imagining processes as methods for institutional applications of choreography and ritual toward “the greater good?”

What are the intersections of ritual and choreographed performance?

What can choreography offer in resistance to state ownership of bodies?