A call to action runs throughout our work, and is the reason for it.
Daak in action assumes various manifestations.
It is urgent for us, as professional dancers and artists of color committed to social justice dance theater, to claim time, spaces, and resources from which we have been excluded and to create access for ourselves and others. For us, high production values and good sprung floors that support our demanding technique are as important to us as ensuring that youth from low-income communities of color are welcomed into the theater spaces in which we perform, and can access the work in multiple ways.
Participatory moments in our concert performances invite audiences to join performers with simple actions that have gained significance during the entire dance. Repeating meaningful metaphoric gestures and negotiating space with others while dancing remains in the muscle and emotional memories of those who join us, provoking questions about the work and issues we have shared. #occupydance
Community conversations, where we listen and respond with intention to issues within our communities, engage us with leaders and community members, reinforcing for all of us that, while art cannot always solve problems, articulating issues through artistic process can be a powerful way to highlight them.
Audience Empowerment Workshops, where we encourage participants, particularly those not accustomed to abstract dance, to connect with the metaphors embodied in the dance and the energy of the movement.
Performances in non-traditional concert spaces, such as at the 2013 and 2014 Northern Spark festivals, were based on audience participation with our dancers working as guides embedded in the community. We often disseminate the choreography for these events ahead of time through workshops and instructional videos that are shared freely. #occupydance
In Arts Access Workshops, we train women and youth, particularly from refugee, immigrant, and indigenous communities and communities of color, in the basic principles of Yorchha™ and the process of creating movement – a dance – based on their ideas and experiences. By providing access to the world of concert dance and the possibility of professional careers, these workshops are one essential way to cultivate self-expression and nurture the next generation of artists from marginalized communities.