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Dancer Educator Adrienne Hawkins "Life A Human Condition"
Mic Theory Interviews Adrienne Hawkins Artistic Director of Impulse Dance Company of Boston, for thirty years also co-artistic director of Bass Line-Motion, a music theater, poetry and dance group exploring spirituality, identity and social issues.
HSM: Your choreography seems to speak volumes about the human condition as it pertains to social issues such as race, age, gender even spiritual turmoil and depression. Is this planned carefully beforehand or do you create on inspiration…
AH: “As it comes… the thing that is most interesting about movement is that it is about quality, dimension and feelings. Dance is how we talk about ourselves, to ourselves… projected to the world. Qualities can be attributed to movement like weight, happiness, youth and maturity. For example, in terms of weight, the way an infant moves is different from the elderly. We can associate quick “light movement with youth, immaturity, not yet formed… that is our perception. So when I create in relation to, as you say, spirituality or the human condition, or human feelings I deal with “Quality”.”
HSM: What are the lessons you wish to impart to your audience?
AH: The audience is the teacher. Much of the meaning comes from them.
Which makes dance a more powerful means of expression than is immediately apparent. Verbally, we can only communicate one eighth of what we really mean because language is not conducive to what is underlying. Our true feelings are not expressed entirely. In my language of dance, I don’t know where it goes once it leaves. I can try to convey an idea but, whether or not it speaks to you, that’s another thing.
I can say “chair” and you can go out and bring back 50 chairs and none will be the “Right” chair because in each individuals mind there can be 750 versions of a chair; a rocking chair, dining room chair, throne etc… through dance there’s a whole other dimension.
HSM: So does dance empower us?
AH: In terms of expression, dance allows us to bring everything down to its core, entity. Instead of trying to say everything about everything, it becomes linear and can be linked back to its original form. In modern society, we get so caught up in going from here to there we forget to go back to the “homebase”
AH: (laughs) No, not really, but put it this way. For my Mom, when they married, he was the guy for her. She did not like what he became, but she hung in there. So there were ups and downs, but they got through it together.
HSM: What about the African American experience of dance?
AH: The African presence in the America’s has changed the face of the arts! After slavery, we were able as a people to reconstruct a support system, farmers, lawyers, Doctors, within a generation, and the next thing that comes is the arts. Then the question becomes, how are we going to voice that expression? Harlem Rennaissance. Up until that time our voice in it’s clarity had not been put out to the public. A significant part of that lives in the dances. The Social dances, The Cakewalk, the Charleston, the Lindy they are reflections of specific times. In the case of the Cakewalk, it is a parody of a parody inasmuch as it was a dance created by slaves to depict how the slave owners would step (High Stepping) from the mud (Dirt roads) carrying offerings (cakes) on their way to the big house to the parties held there. The dances’ popularity saw the imitated imitating imitators!
HSM: So dance can empower?
AH: Absolutely! In the 20s, The Charleston was one of the first dances where men did not lead. Women bobbed thier hair, dresses were shortened… Dance could be a reflection or a catalyst to what can happen socially. The Lindy was created to reflect Charles Lindberghs “Hop” around the world, and the jitterbug raised women up, literally.
HSM: Can it have the opposite effect?
AH: Disco went back to men leading the women, Hip Hop became about the individual and Krumping is purely confrontational. It’s all about who is the best, there is no “Kumbayah”
HSM: Looking at it that way, dance seems to be a profound way to encapsulate significant aspects of each generation.
AH: There is a spiritual aspect. With each generation we find our own particular heroes that lead us into a spiritual realm. Like baby boomers holding onto the sixties all trying to stay young until they die, trying to consistently keep up the lifestyle they are accustomed to. But, it is the promise of this generation that lets me know we are moving ahead. I am amazed I never thought that in my lifetime I would see a black man become president. My generation is the Martin Luther King generation. I never thought I would be in an America that thought nothing of being directed by a black man. Even though the majority of our American society has for years dressed like and emulated people that are black, this is the first generation that does not look at the black man as a threat. These kids are like “What’s the problem?” From my perspective, it’s like “Oh my God! We asked for it and it’s here. I just never thought I would live to see it. I was there at the march on Washington in ‘63 yet I’m still in shock, George Washington…Thomas Jefferson…Barack Obama!
HSM: If Americans are heading in a new direction what is the future of dance in America?
AH: The music and its dances, (and that includes Hip Hop) is transitioning back to love. Trying to find a deeper meaning trying to find what in time will be fulfilling instead of what is for the moment online. It’s winding back toward being complete instead of isolating and objective oriented.
HSM: Is that where we find our humanity?
AH: Yeah after the money has been made and you realize your going to lose it, you can’t take it with you… that’s when we have our awakening, our path… as it comes.
Contact Adrienne Hawkins at BASELINEMOTION@
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Page Updated Last on: Aug 21, 2012