Uncontained Meaning

Summer Institute participants rehearse phrase material

It has been amazing to watch the material that we gathered at the start of the Summer Institute on Saturday at the Anacostia and from improvisational explorations be reworked, edited, and combined into these gorgeous dances that are becoming more and more clear each day.  We are now starting to dig deeper, fine-tuning choreography and dance phrases developed earlier in the week, while still exploring the various facets of our bodies and how they move through space.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how audiences engage content, referencing my experiences in post-performance talkbacks. The one question that always comes up is, “What is it about?”  While developing this dance piece we have asked ourselves a version of this question almost everyday. In reality this dance is about so much—it holds both meaning that we’ve identified, and meaning that is yet to be discovered. Each time I re-watch one of the movement phrases, I see or feel something new. Sometimes it is about water but other times it evokes something entirely different. Today everything felt distinctly about time and remembrance.

I keep returning to the idea of dance and performance as uncontainable. It seems to me that once it has been released to the world, the meaning of the work becomes something entirely separate.  But that’s also what makes dance fantastic and why I’ve chosen to explore it as a creative medium in my own research; its attachment to living and breathing bodies, both performers and audience members, who insert it with energy and meaning, and activate its impact.

Editors note: Bimbola Akinbola, a PhD student in the American Studies department at the University of Maryland, is blogging daily about her experience as a participant in this year’s Summer Institute. You can read her other blog entries herehere, and here.–S.L.

About Bimbola Akinbola

Bimbola Akinbola, is a doctoral student in American Studies at the University of Maryland, and currently engages with Dance Exchange on a number of projects and events, giving voice to the process through documentation.