ACTION IS PRIMARY #315 (Meg Foley/Moving Parts Dance): Dance review

Republished by kind permission from The Dance Journal

L. Browning Photography.

L. Browning Photography.

The subtext of Meg Foley’s Action is Primary, is that in order for one to affect change, engaging in mobilization is of chief importance.

But what does this mean? And what are we mobilizing to change?

Driven by the principles of responsive awareness, Foley gave an assignment asking willing participants to indulge in an experiment where they would document a movement experience at 3:15p.m. This experience would then be shared on social media using #315.

While I didn’t physicalize the assignment, I sat in watch of an unknowing individual while documenting her actions.

This was my observation;

At 3:15p.m. on Saturday April 9th, I sat in a Starbucks watching a Barista’s dance. She faced a customer with easy going eyes and a patient, relaxed body, as if she knew the drill – him still deciding, her, the lenient Barista.

His choice led her down a narrow galley way where she pressed a button, activating what appeared to be a cappuccino machine. After a few seconds, she sauntered back to the waiting customer. He uttered something, causing her adjust her body position, scratched her head, as she turned to look at the menu board hoisted behind her.

Her once laid back stance, pumped with percussive agitation, as her body language moved from tolerant (free, light, leisurely) to annoyance (quick, direct, and short with her answers) as she slid over to the machine to retrieve his initial order.

With only her fingertips touching the cup, she handed him his liquid request… the dance had ended.

Watching the exchange, reinforced my belief that mundane movements, no matter how minute, tell a story. I wondered how many iterations of this dance had been performed and what version I would witness if I were to infringe on the barista’s space, the same time on another day.

I exited the Starbucks and made my way to the performance of Action is Primary.

In the echoing space of the Icebox Project Space, Foley greeted her guests wearing distressed overalls and boots. Her voice led her movement investigation as she explained her process. She talked while moving and as her breath quickened, her physicality accelerated then settling into intentional panting.

The acoustics in the room amplified the sound of her breath, which connected her movements to the audience. At times, her exhausted body also had a voice; it was the music to which she danced, the dictator of her speed, and the narrator of her story. But her exhausted body was never fatigued for too long because she was always on the verge of pressing the restart button.

Meg Foley photo courtesy of Movingpartsdance

During this improvisatory experiment, Foley mutilated the space, rearranging the chairs to make her performance arena smaller. She moved outside her designed cubicle but always returned, re-inscribing that her relationship to the audience, remained primary.

Unsure whether there was an intentional political reference, I couldn’t help but notice that under the overalls, Foley wore a red sweater and blue jeans – colors of the American flag that left an indelible impression.

Although no direct reference was made to the current political climate, I settled in on the subtle visual cue, knowing that dance has a history of being the catalyst for social activism, so my intuition led me down that road, even if it wasn’t intended to be the case.

I plan to relive the given assignment (next time I intend to get physical), hoping that, in doing so, my actions will provide fuel to the #315 movement.
[Icebox Project Space at Crane Arts, 1400 N American Street] April 6-23, 2016; moving-parts-dance.ticketleap.com; actionisprimary.com.

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About the author

Gregory King for the Dance Journal

Gregory King is visiting assistant professor and Consortium on Faculty Diversity fellow at Swarthmore University.