Mar 19

Politics and Dance come together in unique way

by Jenna Shummoogum · 0 comments

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John Bohannon filmed a Ted Talk in Brussels in November 2011. He suggested that bad power point presentations “are a serious threat to the global economy.” With approximately 3 million power point presentations a year in America, boring power point presentations, that are not listened to, are draining people of time and energy. Powerpoint is a tool, “and like any tool, it can and will be abused.” Which brings him to a modest proposal – why not use dancers instead of power point?

Bohannon’s talk is inspiration for an upcoming event Movement in Politics presented by Dr. David Swann MLA, featuring La Caravan Dance Theatre. Swann is doing a speech on political engagement and the artistic director, Maya Lewandowsky, of La Caravan created the choreography. “I saw that Ted Talk,” Lewandowsky says when asked about how the event came to be, “and I thought it was brilliant, how [Bohannon] covered everything from science, to politics to the economy. So we decided then, why not do a dancing power point to his speech?”
“I wanted to address the need for something new to engage people,” Swann says when asked about the event, “The existing framework isn’t reaching people, the media, newsletters, and interviews don’t seem to be touching people and getting them involved.”

This event pushes two things together that don’t generally go together. Politics and dance.
“I find there is there a stigma about politics,” Lewandowsky asserts when prompted about blending the two, “my experience in politics back  in Israel is that they only talk to get your votes, it’s something corrupted and it’s only about power and greediness. I never saw it as something beautiful.” But this speech is mostly about paying attention and getting engaged. “When I heard the speech, I was like, oh my god, he’s talking about people like me!” Lewandowsky explains that though she’s been in Calgary for ten years, she’s never voted. “I really didn’t have a clue,” she says. And that’s Swann’s goal through this event. Simply getting people to pay attention. He’s hoping that “the aesthetic part of our humanity, the creative part of all of us [will be] stimulated and we start thinking that changing things may be possible.”

Bohannon in his Ted Talk asserts “we should use dance to explain all of our complex problems, imagine our politicians using dance to explain why we should invade a foreign country or bail out an investment bank.” Swann isn’t a politician proposing any of those things, but he is proposing that people get more involved in politics, in a unique style. And this event hasn’t been without challenges. “My memory has been a challenge,” Swann says, “the most challenging part for me in not so much being comfortable on stage, but being natural in a scripted way.”
“Everything I’ve done in the past, has helped me craft the language to be able to choreograph this speech,” Lewandowsky explains when asked about the challenge of choreography. “It has helped me connect the right part of the brain with the left, and has shown me that art can by anything. Art meets politics. Art meets science. It’s a skill in my life that I want to develop to be able to thrive as an artist.”

“I’m hoping for it to be seen as a new form of political engagement,” Swann says when prompted about what he considers success in terms of the event. “If people actually saw some real potential here and started building on it, expanding, using their own creative approaches”
“This event is an opportunity to bring completely new people to the world of dance, who have not really been exposed to it,” Lewandowsky says. “You have a speech and movement interpretation and it works, they just compliment each other so well.”

Movement in Politics takes place this Saturday at the John Dutton Theatre in the Central Public Library. The evening also features an excerpt of La Caravan Dance Theatre’s newest work Inter-action. Cash only at the door, or tickets and more information available online.

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