La danza de la esponja

My practice of street dancehall in Jamaica has led me to believe in it as a spiritual culture. Although Dancehall is profane—explicit sex and violence being integral to the song lyrics—as members of a community we acknowledge together a sense of unity and spiritual elevation by sharing a vibrating space and unison movements. Dancehall creates texts and movements drawn from everyday life, from the observation of nature, animal behavior, sex relations and gang semiotics. Without beginning or end its choreography and steps form a succession of eternities granting its place within the calendar of spiritual time. On recent trips to Cuba when working with a modern dance group, la compania Malpaso, and in Miami working with Nancy St. Leger’s Afro-Haitian dance company, I searched for coincident movements in the Haitian and Cuban Yoruba religious dances and profane street dancehall. These cultures worship natural elements through repetition and figuration. Deities, orishas (in Cuba), loas (in Haiti) have romances between them. Their dances are both sensual and spiritual. Dancehall is not a religion, but the sound systems and its vibrational resonance heal our fragmented experience of time to create both unity and space. On both profane and religious dance practices I found simultaneous multiple rhythms and various directions in different parts of the body. Movement of this kind liquefies the body into sweat and newly undulating forms. This specific multidirectionality of body parts made me think and look at the invertebrate octopus kinetic. Its decentralized brain an independence from a central nervous system is comparable to the thoughtful bodies of Dancehall and Yoruba. The other mind of the octopus suggests a body without boundaries fully liquid being, born out of a state of constant rehearsal. The spirit and rhythms that infuse this body move in several directions at once. Sweat and ocean and tropical rain further dissolve the boundaries between inside and outside, reminding us perhaps that inner body fluid is an electrical conductor that functions for the body in similar ways to the synapses of the brain–creating new pathways and communication highways redefining sentience. Through ritual and repetition, arms, legs and torso seem to develop an independent memory. Relieved of the cum- bersome call and response mechanism that separates action from thought, the body begins to describe a life of its own The beginning and ends of the spiritual and the profane dance are here forgone in favor of an actualization of a polymorphous erotic identity–a kind of spiritualized pornography. For this commission we look at the kinesis of the octopus and the liquid oceanic intelligence—as the bridge between cultures of the African diaspora from Ja- maica to Cuba, from Haiti to Miami, and the contemporary ideas of the sacred and profane. The body will be presented both in holographic sculptural form and as an active choreographic being—the one evanescent, the other a succession of eternities.