Heading into our first rehearsal, these are the themes I decided to filter our movement practice and theoretical approach through:
- Economics and violence
- Segregation / Color lines
- Industry (General Motors) / Deindustrialization
All of these are to be explored in relation to The American Dream. In my reading yesterday, I came across a passage in Andrew Highsmith’s dissertation that remarked upon 1930s Flint’s view of what he (and possibly CS Mott) think of as the “Democratic Trinity”: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, The New Deal, the UAW. For me, each of these is a perfect expression of The American Dream. FDR and his New Deal created such opportunity, and the UAW insisted upon creating a good life for autoworkers and their families in return for hard work.
I am thinking about lines: assembly lines, color lines and red lines, partitioning, zoning, segregation. I had the dancers spend three minutes with a clip from "Master Hands" (a 1936 documentary filmed in the Chevrolet plants in Flint, just a few months before the Sitdown Strike). The first time we did this, I asked them to simply respond to the movement they saw in the machines and the workers, and embody it. The second time through, they were to engage in the practice with a greater level of consciousness; the third time, they built a short phrase. Then they taught their phrase to one other person, essentially creating short duets or a trio. I experimented with looking at this movement in a line (an assembly line).
The movement carried a wealth of information, and I wonder about pulling heavily from it to craft new movement phrases. There's something poignant about taking this movement, inspired by the workers and machines of a GM factory, and recontextualizing it in our exploration of the other themes.
Here's a sample of one of the duets created: