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Political Choreography

March 30, 2011

Incredible image of Brooklyn Ballet, (c)2005 by Lois Greenfield

bikes on the landing

Being sick for over a week means I’m way behind on work, so today’s post is just a tiny glimmer of an idea.  Lately I’ve been thinking about choreography as it relates to political action.  Now that EBSol is underway, I’ll be participating in the planning of collective direct actions — hopefully for the next year or two.  Thinking about this planning as choreography is helping to uplift and inspire me to think creatively.

How can we employ different sounds, smells, textures, and movements into our actions?  How can we use space creatively?  How can we create productive tension among multiple people in a space?

Not all actions will involve explicit audiences to choreograph for: we’ll be doing our share of postering, flyering, and letter delivery.  But even in these simpler actions, are there ways we can bring color and intentional physical movement?

I’m reminded of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s advice about the garb of a warrior:

For the warrior, clothing actually provides an armor of discipline, which wards off attacks from the setting-sun world. It is not that you hide behind your clothes because you are afraid to manifest yourself as a good warrior, but rather that when you wear good, well-fit clothes, your clothing can both ward off casualness and invite tremendous dignity.

Sometimes if your clothes fit you well, you feel that they are too tight. If you dress up, you may feel constricted by wearing a necktie or a suit or a tight fitting skirt or dress. The idea of invoking internal drala [energy beyond aggression inside oneself] is not to give in to the allure of casualness. The occasional irritation coming from your neck, the crotch of your pants, or your waist is usually a good sign. It means that your clothes fit you well, but your neurosis doesn’t fit your clothes. The modern approach is often free and casual. That is the attraction of polyester leisure suits. You feel stiff if you are dressed up. You are tempted to take off your tie or your jacket or your shoes. Then you can hang out and put your feet up on the table and act freely, hoping that your mind will act freely at the same time. But at that point your mind begins to dribble. It begins to leak, and garbage of all kinds comes out of your mind. That version of relaxation does not provide real freedom at all. Therefore, for the warrior, wearing well-fit clothing is regarded as wearing a suit of armor. How you dress can actually invoke upliftedness and grace.

I also remember reading, somewhere, from someone, an invitation to move through the world as though we were exploring a spectacular golden palace. This sense of awe and decorum, of self-awareness that helps us relate to the external world, rather than getting caught up in our own worries. Golden palaces may not exactly be my thing, but I know what they’re getting at. Bringing some air of ceremony, some sense of choreography, can help us engage more deeply with our everyday actions — with people, places, beings, and inanimate objects.

Just thoughts.  I’m a believer that political action should be fun and mindful, you know?  So we’ll see.

Meanwhile, the weather outside is blowing my mind.  Didn’t think they made days like this anymore.  Happy Wednesday, everyone!

cars in the yard

ryan makes asparagus

Mr. Posie takes a rest from weed-whacking near his collard greens

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