Even as I set off on my first small journey to Europe this last summer, I don’t know that I truly believed in my own mission. I aimed to show that the arts had the possibility to foster kinship & ability to cross cultural barriers in a way that nothing else does. I wanted to show that music & movement most accurately showcase who we are as a culture & as individuals but, more importantly, could move people beyond their prejudices & cliches to find establish common ground. I talked a good game, when people would ask me why I was going & what I intended to accomplish, but in the back of my mind I thought, you know, who am I kidding? I’m just some dreamy, artsy kid seeing the world through white-privileged, American, hippy-colored glasses…
But some small voice in me persisted:
No. This is important.
My trip this summer wrung me out. Step after step, piece by piece, I was torn apart & spit back out again. I cannot tell you how or why. It was a difficult (terrible, wonderful) journey, but despite my misgivings, one thing was overwhelmingly demonstrated to me:
Music & movement are the places where we shed our differences & come together to be equal in this world. They reach beyond barriers that we do not even know exist; barriers of culture, age, gender, religion, race, politics, economy, wealth. They have the power to incite violence or peace; to unite nations & to connect individuals & whole villages alike through the burning, inexpressible & hidden languages of the soul. Our arts are what make us human & they hold incredible potential for the ways in which we communicate with one another & how we construct what is possible in this world. They reflect who we are, who we have been & have the ability to shape who we may become…
In this day & age, our arts—like much of our human complexity—have been watered down to palatable children’s talent contests & pageants; quick explosion, escape from your daily grind, four-chord-repetition, sex & violence mindlessness…because they have the potential to cause riots & connect us; because they often reflect who we truly really are, and we may not like the picture.
But I believe that, whether on an individual, cultural or scientific level, music & movement are a primal, heightened resonance of human life & the ultimate bridge that can connect us. In my travels, I have seen this played out, time & again & I aim prove it.
When I chose We Who Move as the name for the organization I hoped to one day create, I didn’t realize how appropriate this would be. I wanted a name that spoke to all forms of movement, because dance encompasses so many things:
History, ritual, ceremony, expression, choreography, community, unity & individuality.
To speak of the dances that unite people is also to speak of the rhythms & sounds & songs, the music these dances are so incredibly intertwined with. I wanted a name that encompassed the music & the motion; a name that took into account—not just what our culture thinks of as dance, but—the full spectrum of cellular, bodily motion. I wanted a name that spoke to all forms of movement, but also a name that would encompass what it is to be moved by them.
From the movements inside pieces of music, to the stories & songs I have experienced with everyday people all over the world that have moved them to tears, to joy or to take action—to the revolutionary, quiet movements I have discovered happening underground & off the grid right now, by people who wish to be heard, who wish to live in a world built on beauty, equality, acceptance, patience & above all, possibility; to the musicians, storytellers, dancers & nomads who spend their lives moving from one place to another for work, inspiration or necessity…
…to my own realization that I can no longer call a single place my home; no longer live a ‘normal,’ stationary life of ‘ease’ & ‘comfort,’ but have found a new kind of ‘home’ within myself, the music & the constant movement of the open road…I see these possibilities demonstrated everywhere & I have now become one of the many who move.
This lifelong journey I now embark upon has always lived in me; this yearning to travel, to discover, to learn & to understand. I am not alone. This movement I am trying to create now, these pieces & perspectives I hope to share with the rest of the world have become about far, far more than simply an inexplainable feeling that remembering our historical dances & musics are important.
We Who Move has become so deeply about understanding who we are as a species & how different from, yet incredibly intertwined we are, one with another. It has become about recognizing, through music, through story & through movement that—no matter their race, religion, culture or creed, the very people we have been brought up to fear or compete with are, in truth, waging the same internal & external wars as we are. It is about realizing for the first time, that we have been brought up to believe that life is structured on fear & competition, but that we in fact have the ability to build a world founded on co-habitation & co-creation, where we explore our differences, celebrating & applying them, instead of fearing them. In music & movement, we have been given a language; a key to unlock our understanding & to connect against all odds…
I hope you will join me on this journey.