Janaki Banting - Swallowing Clouds Assistant Facilitator (Dance) Janaki Banting is a mover, musician, and…
Mary Patsiatzis – Arts Education Apprentice Facilitator
Mary (she/her) is a dance-based artist and movement facilitator in Tkaronto. Recently, Mary was a collaborator with Nico Contreras through Adelheid dance project’s re: research residency, and Peggy Baker in the digital choreographic residency, Action Lab. She has performed for The Bentway Conservancy, IO Movement and Assembly Theatre etc.
Give Me a Sign
Some days your godmother sends you an old home video circa 1999, in which you don a velvet dress, jelly shoes (with socks), a backwards baseball hat (borrowed from your much cooler, older cousin), of you dancing full-out-with-feeling (aka lip-synching for your life) to …Baby One More Time, and you remember exactly why you do this thing called dance. I audibly laughed out loud at how many arm-circles and continual ball-changes filled that 3 and a half minute performance. I clearly had an idea and I was sticking to it, no questions asked. It looked so simple: music, feeling, movement.
Sitting here 23 years later, I cue flashbacks from the past 2 years of me laying on the kitchen floor, praying that inspiration would show up, playlist on a loop, fighting the intrusive thoughts telling me that everything I make isn’t good enough. Getting mad at familiar movement patterns when they arrive, fighting the phrases that feel good, thinking I should push, try, force myself to do something, anything else with my body.
When did moving from feeling, emoting honestly in your creation, change into pressure to do the opposite? 4 year-old me had it figured out: moving feels good. Some days I want to swing my arms wildly on repeat and I do not judge myself for it. This is what I make and I stand by it. These are my choices today. Arm-circles and ball-changes and I love every single one of them.
Last week at the Swallowing Clouds March Break program, we asked our participants to offer the group a physical movement of their own choosing, during warm up. One participant shrugged their shoulders when it was their turn, saying they didn’t know what to do, and I felt a tug within me to encourage them into making a choice. “It could be anything”, we said. They shrugged once more and I watched that stress solidify into decision: this is the offering, this shrug, this is it. They committed to their impulse, shrugged with full confidence and we all followed suit.
Somewhere down the line, I learned to judge my own instincts against some scale of “uniqueness” that doesn’t even truly exist. We encourage our program participants that “there is no right way to dance” and I could use that reminder, myself. As someone with a keenness to gestural movement, I applaud that young Clouder for turning emotion, a feeling, into movement and for standing by it, unabashedly.
I stand by my 1999 repetitive arm circles, and I am actively working on standing by my present-day choices as well. Our offerings, our impulses, they are all enough.
Oh, and #FreeBritney, always and forever.