I often wonder about the gap between an audience and performer. I know that there are many ways to bridge this gap, and to make a connection means that on some level you have succeeded in your art. I know that this connection can take many forms, tones and pathways. In the work of community engagement, as well as much of my research in anthropology into the history and place of dance in culture, a common thread is its capacity to be a transcendental healing practice. It finds transcendence through the extra daily sensations that can be evoked physically in both the performer and viewer. Some empathic bridge can be built, something beyond the everyday understood. This witnessing often illuminates an aspect of experience that is new to the audience.
On Sunday, November 3rd the Carnegie Dance Troupe began a procession down Hastings Street with a smudging ceremony by Deborah Charlie accompanied by the drumming of Peter Siah. It was a beautiful sunny day, and there was a nice crowd that supported us along the path to SFU Woodwards.
Once we arrived at SFU and into the World Art Centre room, we gathered ourselves together and the dance became focused and clear. Any 'mistakes' we may have made were far overshadowed by the sense of integrity that all of the dancers to the movement and the spirit of the project.
Graham Cunningham, one of the advanced practitioners, was equipped with a GoPro camera by Josh Hite that sat right at his chest. This recorded the events from a movement perspective. While I haven't seen the footage yet, Josh mentioned to Karen and I that it is quite riveting.
When we did our final thank-you practice, walking to everyone and giving thanks through our hands, some audience members were moved to tears. This is not a sentimental type of song. It was a song of recognition; the tears revealing vulnerability in the act of witnessing a form of community that is not defined by the stereotyping politics so often attributed to Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.