News

YES Move. NO Move. (Moved?)

29 Mar 2016

Article by Bridget Fiske, January 2016, Edited by Tomorr Kokona

'YES Move. NO Move. (Moved?)' promotional image. Bridget Fiske and Joseph Lau. Photographer Stephanie Pan.

‘YES Move. NO Move. (Moved?)’ promotional image. Bridget Fiske and Joseph Lau. Photographer Stephanie Pan.

“I am a refugee, not a criminal.”

“Sorry my English little but my feeling is this big, let’s dance.”

The YES Move. NO Move. (Moved?) project was realised within the framework of BeSpectACTive! funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

During November and December 2015 I was part of an international artistic team who undertook residencies in Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Romania, during which we met and worked with ‘erased’ people, asylum seekers, border volunteers, Roma youth, economic migrants, invisible worker advocates, artists and Romanian youth navigating current social tensions. Residency partners were B-51 Cultural Society, Tanec Praha and Radu Stanca National Theatre. We travelled through different frontiers to meet and workshop with people. Meeting with asylum seekers also involved visiting open and closed detention centres.

The project explored questions about borders and empathy by examining territorial, political, social and personal borders.

We aimed to create a dance-theatre work involving communities in conversation and process. To develop creative outcomes, we used participatory and interactive activities. At times participants were directing the artistic team as to how they wanted to see ideas and feelings unfold in performance. At other times the artistic team was supporting participants in the development of scenes they would, when possible, perform in as the protagonist.

Often the rooms were filled with the voices of the participants’ personal and national songs alongside Afghani pop, Bollywood, traditional Ukrainian, Iraqi folk, Cuban salsa and occasionally Michael Jackson’s music.

Sometimes, the creative space in detention centres gave participants the opportunity to say things they wanted to say and have people (us, other participants and staff) witness this. This was a moment of empowerment in a journey which I can only imagine is full of disempowerment.

Through extreme crisis, displacement and processing systems, where the individual can be lost, workshops were a space to share of the self and to have contributions valued. We witnessed people expressing aspects of their pain, loss, uncertainty and joy.

The impact of the arts was evident and often we saw a shift in people’s engagement – from standing at the edges to taking the space to perform their loved dance, or the creation of a scene with others about lived moments of extreme adversity.

We knew what we were facilitating wouldn’t have any impact on a person’s legal situation, but perhaps it might offer a shift mentally or emotionally for that moment.

On a personal level I became aware of a process of embodiment. Exchanging experiences and space with people who had lost so much was incredibly humbling, and of course at times brought me to tears. People’s desire and capacity to dance, sing, play, talk and be together in a shared humanity created a sense of community in these moments.

Yet again this project affirms that the arts can be a positive alternative platform for those living through crisis, and for the wider community to engage with and question their responses to issues effecting so many.

 

Notes

YES Move. NO Move (Moved?). Bridget Fiske in collaboration with Catherine Simmonds, Melita Jurisic, Joseph Lau, Andrew Crofts, Miguel Marin and Community.

‘Erased’ – In 1992, following Slovenia’s independence, people who were resident in Slovenia, for example citizens ‘of another republic of the former Yugoslavia’1, who did not register within a designated time frame were “removed” ‘from the Slovenian registry of permanent residents’2 and consequently lost ‘economic and social rights’3. This ‘affected 25,671 people’4 whose lives were in Slovenia.

  1. Mirovni Institute. ‘About Erasure’. The Erased. Information and documents (webpage) (n.d.).

<http://www.mirovni-institut.si/izbrisani/en/about-erasure/> para 1, accessed 8 January 2016.

  1. Amnesty International Publications. ‘Slovenia. Amnesty International’s Position On Resolving The Issue Of Erased.’, Amnesty International, (published online 15 February 2013)

<https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur68/001/2013/en/> page 3, accessed 8 January, 2016.

  1. Mirovni Institute. ‘About Erasure’. The Erased. Information and documents (webpage) (n.d.).

<http://www.mirovni-institut.si/izbrisani/en/about-erasure/> para 3, accessed 8 January 2016.

  1. Amnesty International Publications. ‘Slovenia. Amnesty International’s Position On Resolving The Issue Of Erased.’, Amnesty International, (published online 15 February 2013)

<https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur68/001/2013/en/> page 3, accessed 8 January, 2016.

 

Bridget acknowledges the support of York Theatre Royal, Dance Manchester, University of Salford and Sustained Theatre Up North. Bridget’s current England based development activity is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

www.bridgetfiske.com

www.bespectactive.eu