Moving Our Stories...
Moving Our Stories is a multifaceted creative practice that explores embodied memory and personal narratives through dance workshops, choreographic practice, creative and scholarly research, and community dialogues. Drawing on a deep history of embodied storytelling and creative movement practices - Moving Our Stories uses improvisation, choreographic processes, writing, and group discussion to investigate the ways our histories live and move in our bodies. Together, we move our stories to find new connections between ourselves, each other, and the world around us.
Moving Our Stories is based on four premises:
I embrace storytelling as a radical act, a social justice practice. Sharing, documenting, and archiving personal and collective narratives is vital for communities whose histories have been historically (and continue to be) marginalized, skewed, erased. Dance -- a way of being in, thinking about, and creating change in the world -- allows us to claim agency over out stories, starting with our own bodies.
Moving Our Stories Workshops:
Moving Our Stories workshops are interactive experiences for participants from all walks of life. Through movement, writing, drawing, observation, and discussion, we explore our own stories, share with them each other, and create new stories together.
Participant-driven activities oscillate from individual to collective explorations. Each participant brings their unique personal history and embodied knowledge. This allows for all who attend to engage deeply - dancers of all skill levels, dance enthusiasts, and anyone ready and willing to move their bodies to best of their ability are welcome to participate!
Workshops are designed in collaboration with community partners -- and structured around a particular theme -- to help explore how dance can address their particular interests, needs, and goals.
Moving Our Stories as a Choreographic Process:
Moving Our Stories participants generate movement through the communal investigation of embodied memory - exploring, sharing, and moving our stories together. As a choreographer, this process allows me to focus on:
Click below to see an example of Moving Our Stories
in the choreographic process with Spelman Dance Theatre (2016-2017)
Past Moving Our Stories Projects
"MOVING OUR STORIES: EMBODIMENT, DANCE, & SOCIAL JUSTICE"
Friends of Dance Lecture Series at Emory University
Co-sponsored by the Department of African American Students
February 7th, 2017, 7:30pm
Moving Our Stories explores relationships between embodied processes and social justice activism. In this interactive presentation, Johnson will introduce participants to Dancing for Justice Philadelphia (DFJ Philly), a local initiative coordinated by Lela Aisha Jones and a diverse team of collaborators as part of a national multi-city DFJ movement to honor Black lives lost to police violence and creates spaces to convene around racial injustice. She will engage participants in a multi-modal embodied storytelling practice that begins with sensory exploration and body memory as an effort to build empathic connections between individual and collective experience, and demonstrates intersections of embodiment and social justice practices.
"MOVING OUR STORIES: EMBODIMENT, DANCE, & SOCIAL JUSTICE" (in-process)
Chapter contributed to the forthcoming anthology, African American Art: Aesthetics, Activism, and Futurity.
On December 14th, 2014, I was moving with nearly one hundred Philadelphians, crouching down low with our hands behind our backs, swaying rhythmically from side to side as we steadily moved our New Orleans-style dirge step towards City Hall in the freezing winter air. “Moving Our Stories" investigates relationships between embodiment, African Diaspora movement practices, and social justice activism. Readers are introduced to local and multi-city initiatives such as Dancing for Justice Philadelphia (DFJ Philly) that honor Black lives lost to police violence and create spaces to convene around racial injustice through movement-centered and multi-modal creative practices. Whether gathered in an intimate studio space, holding pop-up demonstrations in conjunction with concert dance performances, or taking to the streets in protest, initiatives such as DFJ Philly build on a rich history of arts-based activism within African American communities. They engage participants in processes to draw on sense perception and body memory to claim and express personal narratives, and in doing so, they build empathic connections between individual and collective experience.
MOVING OUR STORIES: RE-PLACE-ING PHILADELPHIA
Community Education Center
October 3, 10, & 17, 2015
10:00 am - 1:00 pm
How do our personal histories live and move in our bodies?
"Moving Our Stories" is a series of movement-based, multimodal workshops for Philadelphians (new and native) from all walks of life. We interact with fellow participants using movement, writing, drawing, observation, and discussion to encounter ways in which we can explore our own stories, share with them each other, and create new stories together.
Each session will include participant-driven activities that will oscillate from individual to collective explorations. Each participant brings with them their unique personal history and embodied knowledge, no previous dance experience necessary!
This event is part of Re-Place-ing Philadelphia, a project of Painted Bride Art Center that uses the arts and public dialogue to bring seemingly invisible cultural memories to light and enrich our city's history. Visit www.re-place-ing.org for more information and to share your Philadelphia story.
Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.