Anxiety is good.
I feel anxious.
Sitting on the floor in the public space of a theatre, we talked about the news that summer.
Unarmed black kids are getting shot by police in the streets in America.
Three dancers from Hong Kong, Bulgaria, and The Seychelles are talking about it in a theatre in London.
The question comes up, why isn’t the Black Lives Matter movement called All Lives Matter, and I start to list the reasons, which seem so obvious in the context of structural racism and history, obvious to a bunch of dancers so ethnically diverse we should be in a Gap advert. I feel like I’m mansplaining feminism, and I want to punch myself in my mansplaining face. But I had the exact same question… for a moment at least… embarrassingly. And even now, I can’t help but feel that I am not qualified to talk about this subject, and that any act of solidarity is really just a confession of otherness.
So I think anxiety here... that's good... because anxiety is to admit that there is work to be done.
We're performing 'Inherent' at Hop Festival in a few days, a show about getting past the awkwardness of being accountable for each other, across racial divides. The first part looks at memories, and the struggle to sustain being engaged, but the end is admittedly us trying to dance our best. When it comes to dance, there is always the element of entertainment, of showcasing. I want to inspire awareness and social change, yes, but I also want woos. I want recognition. I want someone to see me on stage and decide to seduce me, leading to a relationship so life-affirming that family and friends are forced to hate-like our photos on a regular basis… But that means we start to appropriate a story that is not ours, one of black memory, for ourselves. And that kernel of self--serving hypocrisy is a question.
On top of that, if you look around hip hop is everywhere, it’s easy to forget where the culture came from, which is essentially black culture. Which means everything I do as a Chinese-Caucasian hip hop artist is a form of cultural appropriation. But that’s a whole other dumpling to steam.
We've been looking at ways we can remind the audience that we are doing a show about the show. Can we applaud each other on stage? Can we reject applause? Because this is the real question: how far can anyone do something for someone else? I want the audience to ask if the dancers, not the characters on stage but the actual people, can make a show about someone else without it becoming, in the end, about themselves. And maybe that's the point, we can only ever stay on our own side of the skin. How can we be bigger than that?
If any of y'all are in Barcelona on the 17th, get down to MERCAT DE LES FLORS.
We'll be pulling hard at the thread.
Hop Festival Dec 17th programme including:
BREAKIN' CONVENTION (UK) + FESTIVALS KARAVEL & KALIPSO (FRANÇA) + DÉSOLÉ MAMAN GARDE ROBE (FRANÇA) + HOP FESTIVAL presenta HOP MIRADES INTERNACIONALS. Inherent + Untitled + Fighting Spirit + Kintsugi.