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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What is Love?

David Dorfman Dance. Photo by Aundre Larrow.
What does it mean to love—in spite, or perhaps because of, the violence and strife in the world?
How can the body be used as a political force? How can dance artists shake things up and enable people to see other possibilities for themselves?

We asked choreographer David Dorfman and his company these very questions on the occasion of their latest work, Aroundtown, part of the 2017 Next Wave Festival. Read on for their responses, paired with portraits by photographer Aundre Larrow, before seeing the piece at the BAM Harvey Theater through Nov 11.


David Dorfman

Photos by Aundre Larrow
"To love means to forgive and at the same time to elevate our expectations for peace among peoples. We need to find a way—individually and collectively, as a society at large—to reach out and ease hatred and pain in a new way that doesn't end in killing other people, but ends in empathy, understanding, and permanent truce.

"[Dancers] embody all feelings, urges, forces. We can be leaders on stage, in rehearsals, in workshops in a tactile manner, inviting folks to touch each other instead of killing each other, to embrace failure as much as success to celebrate our everyday selves, which means to celebrate and honor being alive!"

Jordan Demetrius Lloyd

Photos by Aundre Larrow

"I think it is important for dance artists to remain curious about life. Specifically to cultivate a practice looking at and listening to their personal experiences. In this we share our most honest and vulnerable selves, which can hopefully encourage the same in others."


Kendra Portier

Photos by Aundre Larrow
"At my brother’s wedding this past weekend, I remember a short passage that was read; it stated something to the effect of... Love is what is left over after being in love has burned off. When speaking of love, I keep thinking about what it means to care. To demonstrate, realize, receive, and admit that one cares seems dislodging, bashful, or something that should be quieted or contained. Sometimes, to care is so deeply vulnerable-making that we practice ourselves out of it, perhaps even mistaking love or care’s tenderness and vulnerability with being unprofessional, weak, or too sensitive. There is a fine line, of course, and I don’t think I know where it is—neither do other folks, I suppose."


Jasmine Hearn

Photos by Aundre Larrow
"The body holds a personal truth that only it can know fully. It is a keeper of memory, of history, of herstory, of survival. Each body holds feelings that can always be accessed... especially when in movement. When we move we remember—we conjure our individual experience. When we connect with body, we connect with truth... and what a force that is in a political climate saturated with lies."


Nik Owens

Photos by Aundre Larrow
"Well, in a way, a person's body is a political statement. Every one of us in Aroundtown comes from a different background culturally, socio-economically, geographically, racially, etc., and because of that every one of us has our own agenda and desires for change we want to see in the world, even without speaking. The fact that we can all come together and make a dance performance work harmoniously, where we all help to achieve a common goal, is a well needed political statement these days; one of cooperation, listening, and understanding that reaches beyond our differences and helps us all maybe not to achieve all of our goals, but definitely helps to achieve a good majority of them. That's really important."

"I have always believed the true measure of a human’s capacity to love can always be seen during times of prevalant strife or violence in the world. I can only speak for myself during these situations, but I choose to be as happy, gracious, attentive, hopeful, and empathetic as possible in my interactions with others. All of those qualities are just different faces of love. Love doesn't have to solely be romantic or familial or even have to have the letters L-O-V-E. Love, to me, is putting the goodness into the world that you want to see out of it with all different kinds of people and inspiring hope and generosity in them, particularly in difficult times."


Aya Wilson

Photos by Aundre Larrow
"To love is see others, and to allow yourself to be seen. And to have hope. To recognize that amidst the violence and strife, we all have a voice and body that can work toward making the world a better place. Starting with the way we interact with others, our community, as well as how we extend our energy beyond to accept, understand, and care for each other."

Simon Thomas-Train

Photos by Aundre Larrow
"To love is to admit the possibility of being betrayed by that love. 

To love is to submit to the impossibility of living in isolation. 

An engagement cannot be broken unless it is made. An accord cannot be backed out of unless it is first agreed to. A castle cannot be sacked unless it first opens its gates to the outside world. 

But we choose these actions regardless of the risk inherent. We admit the "fault" of our feelings or the "incomprehensibility" of our actions and take the steps to amend them. 

We realize that we feel for a person and to right the lack that admission speaks to, we enter into unions. We go to war and then knowing the ultimate wrong or uselessness that is that act, we sign the various treaties. We destroy the planet that harbors us. And seeing this, we reach out and in to build collective solutions. 

And these can all be broken. These have all been broken. But they could all be kept as well. 

What emerges from the times we break these commitments and what would the world look like if we held to them? And in doing so admitting our smallness, our need for others, our human culpability, human weakness, and frustratingly beautiful interconnectedness?

What if, in times of difficulty, we leaned further into union and kept the castle gates wide open. What if we lead with the soft part of our chest, the softest part of our trust?"


Lisa Race


Photos by Aundre Larrow

"Love...hmmm....To love is to not give up, to have hope for the future. I HAVE to have hope for our son's life and future. It's caring—for a child, a parent, a partner, a friend, people you don't know, and a pet too. I grew up watching Star Trek reruns on TV, and realize I believed it as a kid... I truly thought the collective we were striving to create a world where all humans (and non-humans in the case of Star Trek) could get along. Parts of our world and our country are without hope. To love is to keep moving forward. Funny, as I try to figure out how to answer this complicated question, I've come across a quote from the Dalai Lama on the wall of our AirBnB: "The more you are motivated by love, the more fearless & free your action will be." Dancing—with my husband [David Dorfman], with friends, with our son, watching David's company dive into movement with such devotion— brings me joy and happiness and gives me hope."

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