Winter 2022 In Dance


made me fully understand the doom of repeating ourselves. CI has always kept me sane when san- ity becomes a luxury instead of a fun- damental component of our daily oper- ating lives. I hide in it. And I escape in it. It allows me to pretend the bad isn’t happening, at least for a few brief hours in the week. It’s pure hypocrisy if I look at it objectively: a kind of dance I love that doesn’t love me back. A room full of white people dancing with me as the only outlier. “Do the work” I tell myself. It doesn’t matter if I’m queer, brown, cis-gender, or small in size. Do the work. But as inclusive as CI is, it is never lost on me the differences I embody. Can good dance come out of a body of color? Do people change the lens with which they watch brown skin moving? I am actually saying that I have to worry that Brown skin is a handicap. This scares me. It infuriates me. It also spurs me into action. So, CI is my way to take in and

of an innocent man of color. CI and Ahmaud. And what I’m left with is thinking that my faith in CI’s prin- ciples could have helped me process Ahmaud. Helped me remember that there are forms and practices out there that accept all parts of all peo- ple: emotions, colors, desires, abili- ties, boundaries. But with a tragedy this potent I fear even more that even with CI in my life, it would have done no good. And then I’m left with this bigger question of “Can dance save me?” I don’t want it to just be a tool to process pain. I want it to be a vehi- cle for radical change. And that just asks too much of it. So, what am I asking for? At the end of this day, today, Thanksgiving, I am asking for a deliberate kind of attention. It is what is necessary for CI as practice. When we are dancing in a room full of people, you have to manage your own ambitions, the expectations of your partners and the room as a whole. You have to take the time to warm-up and get to know yourself, so that you can be added to a bigger whole. I want this deliberate attention when I live in the world. I want to enjoy and

permission to use that superpower right now. I don’t feel safe enough to be an ambassador of art. It is hard enough inherently being an ambassa- dor of Brown. Every generation has its marker, its reminder of racial tensions. For me, I can’t see past Ahmaud Arbery. I thought Sandra Bland would halt me. And then I thought Philando Castile would derail me. But it is Ahmaud that finds me on a couch late at night right before I realize I’m exhausted and need to go to bed. It’s then that I feel that rush of wet behind my eyes, that stinging that overwhelms me because I can imagine being him. I can imagine being yelled at and chased and turned into prey just because I like to run but forgot that running is a privilege. That certain areas, neigh- borhoods, parts of this earth, are only meant for people that look a certain way. I sheltered in a rural, western, conservative part of a midwest state during the pandemic. Ahmuad was murdered during this time. With no physical practice at my disposal, I had gone back to running to stay active. But there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t find myself jumping off the road into a ditch any time I felt

and slowly accept it. Someday I hope to celebrate it. I am the son of immi- grant parents. And so, I grew up with their wisdom in my ear. They could feel unrest before they had to see it splashed across a banner headline on the local news. They watched it hap- pen in their home country, and so upon arriving here, could see it com- ing in a hazy premonition, like an unnerving crystal ball. I’ll never forget my mother’s words one evening after Obama was sworn in: “You wait and see. When he leaves office, you’ll see the surge of racial unrest rise again. It’s a tide that’s always just under the surface.” I didn’t really hear her in that moment until I saw it for myself 8 years later, her timing so precise it

anymore. I could once, but I can’t make it happen at present. I want that back. And it will come. When we get back to the physical practice, it will come. It has to. Because in the interim, my defenses have bolstered. I worry, I harden, I see danger and miscommunication everywhere. And I see the end results of these fears in what happened to Ahmaud. But I live hopeful that CI can help me return to a place of sanity, accep- tance, and perhaps even trust again. PAUL SINGH earned his BFA in Dance from the University of Illinois, USA. He has danced for Gerald Casel, Risa Jaroslow, Will Rawls, Phantom Limb Company, Stephanie Batten Bland, Douglas Dunn, Christopher Williams, Kathy Westwater, Faye Driscoll, and was featured in the inaugural cast of Punchdrunk’s Ameri- can debut of Sleep No More. While abroad, he was a dancer in Peter Sellars’ opera The Indian Queen (Madrid), as well as Peter Pleyer’s large- scale improvisation work Visible Undercurrent (Berlin). Paul has had his own work shown at multiple venues in NYC, Berlin, and in 2004 his solo piece Stutter was presented at the Kennedy Center. Paul has taught contact improvisation around the world, and currently teaches varied technique classes for Movement Research, Sarah Lawrence College, and The Juilliard School. In 2021, he began his role as Artistic Associate at Baryshnikov Arts Center.

accept the nonsense that is this country right now. It is the way I learn to for- give, exist with the news reports, keep my instincts up around me when navi- gating NYC. And without it these last years, I have hardened. It frustrates me that we, as artists, have to claim vulnerability as the way to being fully actualized. The super key to our super- power. It is the way to cre- ate connection to our inner selves and then share it with others. But to be vul- nerable, to be in a state of emotional or physical exposure that comes with a certain degree of uncer- tainty, is hard enough in a studio. I can’t claim that vulnerability in the world around me, not in this cur- rent world. I don’t feel any


accept my own company and be open and available to all that enter my path. I want to be able to say no when I need to. And walk away from situations I cannot fix, change, or heal. The tenets I apply to CI are aspirational: to not care about your dancing history, your ableness, or the color of your skin. To only care about your willingness to listen. Your ability to move at the speed of attention. However, I can’t make this translate to the larger world

a pickup truck revving from behind. After having clocked the number of 45 flags I would run by, I could feel myself shrinking, as if I was the one causing trouble. It made me quiet. And I’ve spent a lot of my life quiet. Always trying to read the rooms I’m in to see if I get mistaken for an ethnicity that is generally accepted in the space. So, the two things that ruled my world these past years are the lack of the practice that gives me courage and experiencing the lethal mistreatment


in dance WINTER 2022 48

WINTER 2022 in dance 49




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In Dance | May 2014 |

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