I have been looking at scenes of state violence that have been widely seen and discussed in the last five years. I re-watched some of these videos, this time while annotating the movement. I slowed down footage, noted down the characters involved and attempted to draw their movements. Perhaps the need to look away from some of these distressing images has led me to start researching dance annotation and movement writing. I spoke to dance artists about writing dance scores that will annotate these scenes. The chosen scenes are all of state violence that was forced on the bodies of citizens in public spaces. This would be another form in which oppression is recorded. This research project is meant to develop into a public performance at a later stage.
The movement is created and dramaturged by state violence, the rhythm would be ours.
Scene: The chocking of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York
A man wearing a white tee shirt stands in the middle of two men wearing black shirts. They form a triangle in the space. The man in white moves his arms to his chest then down towards his knees three times. He bends his knees while doing that. He lifts his t-shirt up showing his belly. The two men are still. The man on the right has his both arms folded upwards touching his shoulders. The man on the left has his arms crossed and his legs wide open.
Both men in black broke into looking behind them towards the distance then back at the man in the middle. The man on the right starts chewing a gum while moving his head in and out.
The man in white repeats his earlier movement in faster repetition.
The man on the left swiftly moves behind him and reaches for his neck.
The man on the right moves towards the man in the middle and reaches his arm. The man in the middle gets dragged to the back while two other men appear from the crowd and now four men are grabbing him while kneeling towards him.
The man in the middle falls to the ground. One of the four men takes a few steps back and looks at the scene.
The man in the middle is lying flat on his stomach. The man who took a few steps back comes back and grabs his feet. Two other men each grab an arm of the man on the floor. The fourth man lies on top of the man on the floor his arm is still wrapped around his neck.
A fifth man appears and reaches for the man's head.
The five men form a tight circle around the man on the floor. They move in coordination without revealing the inside of the circle.
Two of the men break out of the circle and come towards the audience, they move their hands up and down.
The three men left around the man on the floor move back up slowly revealing his still body.
About the artist
Tania El Khoury is an artist working between London and Beirut. She creates interactive and challenging performances in which the audience is an active collaborator. Tania's solo work has toured internationally, and for which she is the recipient of the Total Theatre Innovation Award and the Arches Brick Award. She is the co-founder of Dictaphone Group, a research and performance collective aiming at reclaiming public space in Lebanon.