A Capstone Project by Kiara Benn
Through spaces that house black bodies and foster opportunities for fellowship, dance acts as a vessel for exploration in individuality. This choreographic piece examines how movement can bring autonomy to black bodies in documenting the past and their present selves. What steps are necessary to produce dance practices that depict accurate and autonomous representations?
In a curated experience, dancers were invited to relish their uniqueness. Through a series of rehearsals, bodies were “interviewed” through workshopping dance and movements that portrayed the stories of its creator. This project worked to capture memories, stories, and personal truths through the creation of 5 solos. Through attempts to personally define black movement, dance revealed how antiquated depictions of blackness fail to encapsulate the reality of the people it aims to categorize.
The creation of solos made by each dancer in the Cohort tied to a self-encapsulating piece of music served as an initial entry into my choreographic process. In order to prioritize the close ties between black dance, music, and identity, the song selection process began before the solo process.
I wanted to bring people I care about into this experience. Bring bodies from student group spaces that have contributed so greatly to the dance reputation at Wesleyan to be recognized in a dance department setting. Pay homage to the work they have instigated in growing a medium and a sanctuary of individuality.
I aimed to validate experience so that when blackness is represented it is depicted as expansive, and allows for definitions to grow. I intended to examine the notion of a sacred space and create a community where individuality is recognized and evolves from the influence of others.
Why does this work only exist digitally?
One week before the final piece was scheduled to show at the Senior Thesis Dance Concert, there was an abrupt campus closure due to the rampant spreading of the COVID-19 disease. This unforeseen event disrupted the show element of all dance capstone and thesis work.
To memorialize the work put forth by all the individuals involved in this piece, I created this digital space where this piece can continue to live on. I hope that the body of work inspires other black individuals to fully embrace who they are and where they come from.