We often forget the vitality of breath, of true togetherness, and conscious reflection, which is why The Haus of Glitter Dance Company’s “Decolonizing Creative Practice: Defensiveness Retreat” on March 18th, 2023 and March 25th, 2023 (in cooperation with The School of Embodied Praxis) came as a divine blessing. The Haus of Glitter Dance Company (based in Providence, RI) works, through movement and choreography, to shift the energetic center of the universe towards liberation and care. Their work is rooted in the intersection of Queer-Affirming Feminist BIPoC cultural preservation + spacekeeping, historical intervention, social practice, concert dance, public spectacle, immersive interdisciplinary performance theatre, and protest/performance art.
Here is a highlight of their recent work “The Historical Fantasy of Esek Hopkins: An Activist Dance Opera:”
Recently they launched a creative campaign and social practice performance + campaign to transform the racist national monument dedicated to Esek Hopkins, commander of the slavery ship “Sally” after spending three years (2020-2023) living in the former home of Hopkins (a Providence Public Park).
You can read more about how to support at: www.HealEsekHopkins.com.
Please sign the petition here.
The Haus of Glitter brings awareness to this campaign while sharing essential practices with retreats for artists and people in general within affinity spaces. Their two-part virtual retreat called “Decolonizing Creative Practice: Defensiveness Retreat” was in partnership with Assets for Artists + MASS MoCA.
The retreat started each day with an early morning optional gentle yogic movement practice and breath work, asking us to honor our own time and space. The gracious and invigorating safe and brave space created by the thoughtful and generous artists of the Haus of Glitter sets the transformative tone of the retreat. The intention of the first day was set with creating intersectional BIPoC affinity spaces as well as a white affinity spaces, along with asking the question of “Who taught you what defensiveness was?”
For me, as a South Asian immigrant Cis-woman transplanted onto the unceded lands of so-called U.S.A. at a young age, “defensiveness” was the only mode of survival – you instinctively have to defend your cultural practices, your language and the accent it bares, your clothing, your hair, the food you eat, your existence as a human being. The world will swallow you whole if you didn’t turn your mouth into a fist and cover your heart with a bullet-resistant vest. And even then, a fighting fist bleeds and breaks its bones and them bullets might not kill you but they pierce through creating lasting bruises in the rawest parts of your soft heart. And Euro-centric white supremacy knows no bounds – it has seeped into every inch of this earth and has become the air we breathe both literally and figuratively. In the country I was born, which has been exploited by European, USAmerican, and Brahmanic powers for centuries, my birth as a Cis-girl becomes a “feminine” burden laced in casteist and colorist undertones. For myself and many others, defensiveness rises even in our own communities where intersectionality is forgotten, the complexities of colorism is misunderstood, and the privileges we carry go unacknowledged.
Then we were asked to reflect on “who we would be if we didn’t have to be defensive.” And we were collectively honing into reimagining a world where we can be accepted as our full self, a world with our defenses down, a world where we can just exist as love and be loved as we are. The second part of the retreat focused on rest, reiterating the movement that rest is resistance. And then diving into the long established “Four I’s of Oppression,” (individual, interpersonal, ideological, and institutional), where we reflected on ways we can disrupt and agitate these systems within ourselves.
These brief snapshots barely share the vivid breath of restorative work and true sense of community offered during the retreat. And we can still hold these fleeting moments and continue taking in feminine breaths, masculine breaths, queer breaths, breaths of different cultural identities, breaths of our different gender identities, breaths of our different body-abilities, breaths of allyship, and breaths of & for our ancestors. May we take long deep belly breaths and reimagine a world where we no longer have to be defensive at the hands of embedded oppression.