Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Blog to Watch: Sarah Dahnke's Pen Pal Project

Good news!
Danceblogger Sarah Dahnke (who, i think it's fair at this point to consider a dance blog mogul) is at it again with a new project! It's called "the Pen Pal Project" (check it out here) and it utilizes video and blog space to network a few different lines of (visceral/visual/filmic) communication between dancers. It's an idea that has certainly been considered before: what is a way that artists who are far apart can utilize new technologies/options to interact and collaborate? However, this project stands out to me (aside from the fact that i'm participating in it) in intention and origin - i think Sarah's coming at it from a really interesting perspective.

Sarah writes:
This project was born out of questions about race and identity, wondering why we as a culture must judge people immediately based on physical appearance and skin color, despite the fact many do not identify with those who look similar to them.

I began to remember my elementary school days, when I had a pen pal in another country who never had any idea what I looked like, and it didn’t matter. We began to learn things about each other, about our families, our traditions and our lives without judging each other exclusively on looks.

I’ve collaborated with strangers around the country to trade dance videos and have a movement “conversation.” As this exchange evolves, I hope to learn about these women based on their movement choices and their choreographic topics. The regular back-and-forth between myself and three other collaborators will be documented on this blog. The final product will be edited into a video installation in 2009..

One thing that occurs to me in reading this description is the lovely paradox of trying to interface questions of race/identity and visual culture with the medium of film. Is it possible to use a visual medium to somehow resist the use of vision as a defining/binding/restricting action? Certainly film and dance share the power to utilize and subvert the viewer's gaze (yum! don't even get me started on gaze theory!) but i'm excited to try and access these ideas in the more casual and intimate pen pal format.

So check it out and get in on the action, and check out myfirst letter/winterbreakplaidkitchen dance here.

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