Previously, Band of Artists presented itself to the world as like-minded artists advocating a creative livelihood for those who live with Tourette’s. At the heart of BOA are the dancers who work tirelessly to understand the disorder and learn to actively engage an audience that may be unaware of TS and it’s implications. Artistic Director, Sutie Madison, gave her very talented dancers an opportunity to address these sensitives in a recent assignment entitled : Beyond the Body: Understanding the Dancer Within.
These dancers are no stranger to the “homework” that Sutie assigns. In the past, they have been asked to create their own movements based on metaphors they were given, they have been asked to recreate images that Sutie has drawn, and finally they have been asked to witness the difficulty of living with TS by watching videos of those with the disorder. With each assignment, Sutie strives to keep the dancers mentally and emotionally connected to the task at hand.
The purpose of this week’s assignment was to address the quote “We cannot expect to reach excellence if going through the motions is the norm of our lives.” Sutie interpreted the quote as suggesting that a collective goal cannot be met, if the energies of those involved are not entirely convicted. She says, “A performance that endeavors to deliver a message about diversity and difference, is not going to do so successfully, if the performers are without emotion, conviction, passion and connection with the material.” As a result, the dancers were challenged with questioning their own passion for the project.
The dancers were up for the challenge.
Theresa Westwood writes, “I must accurately execute the different tics and twitches… with passion, emotion, and effort to the audience,” “I have the passion to use dance as an expressive form, I am able to be flexible and open to trying things outside of my comfort zone, and BOA has challenged many of her prior perceptions and experiences with dance…which has made me a better more versatile performer.”
Adrian Plascencia writes, “As performers, I believe we must present art in extremes,” “Dancing shouldn’t be mundane or common,” “Dancers must heighten life and present it back to the audience,” “Everything that I do as a dancer/performer I try to fully understand.”
Greg Anmuth writes, “We should never stop exploring what dance is and what performance is,” “Static work is boring,” “[I am] inspired everyday by new ways to explore what is dance and what is humanity, and if dance is an extension of humanity, humanity is always changing, shouldn’t I?”
These three dancers understand what is at stake with this kind of performance. They are willing to be flexible, experimental and open-minded to a process that requires more than just dancing well. To advocate disorder through expressive art, the artists should be fully invested. A performance of this nature requires a keen sensitivity to “difference” and the thru-line of “diversity”.
In conclusion, I believe the response Darcy Lyons submitted truly captures the necessity of compassion and empathy required to further BOA’s message. She writes: “I don’t think one can call themselves an artist if they stumble through life with no direction,” “Excellence is only achievable through fervor, clear intentions, integrity,” “I struggle immensely with depression and anxiety and it is a constant battle, but it is also an amazing tool for creating art,” “I don’t conform to social or cultural norms, and feel that those elements combined are my strengths as a person and as a performer.”