Joy in my body is joy in their body

A seed by: Michelle Rambharose
Project: Main Pool
I’m a multidisciplinary artist from Scarborough, Canada, of Guyanese descent (Indo-Caribbean & Arawak). I’m based in Toronto and work as an actor in video game, film, TV, theatre, and as a director in theatre. My work as a creator and director investigates highly collaborative processes, distinctly physical performances, and often explores feminist and queer theory. I often draw on traditions of ensemble, various physical theatre practices, and my background in dance (hip-hop styles, vogue styles, and jazz funk) for the creation and facilitation of performance.


Theatre, Interdisciplinary Arts, Dance, Film/Video, Storytelling
This is an original seed

I have been hearing sounds from the South Asian diaspora in my head for a while now. It began to feel like some sort of breadcrumbs leading me to my Indian ancestry from my father’s side. My father’s side of the family is a very challenging side for me personally, which is in part because of their silence around and disconnection from their lineage. However, there was something in me that felt called to dance to this music that I was hearing. I only knew my paternal grandmother growing up, as my paternal grandfather passed away when I was a baby. My father rarely spoke of him, likely due to a painful history together in his younger years. All I have known of my paternal grandfather were stories that my mother shared of her experiences of him. My mother shared stories of his gentleness, his kind nature, and his quietness — a contrasting energy to my paternal grandmother who was a more outspoken character in her elder years.  Something about the way that I was being called to move to this music felt gentler in nature, and I felt like the energy I was harbouring might be related to my grandfather, more so than my grandmother. After asking my dad more about his father, he shared some more info about him — his love of gardening, his quietness throughout his life, and his love of Bollywood movies from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I told him of the music I was hearing and he gave me movie titles that he could recall his father watched. I listened to the soundtracks of these movies and imagined ways I could create dance pieces to them. However, as I wrestled with the question I wanted to pose, I continued to return to this desire to centre joy in my process. For myself, but also for them. Ancestors especially on my dad’s side, regardless of gender, were in situations and circumstances that forced them to be providing for most of their life, rather than receiving — whether that’s the sweetness of life, or the joy, time, and space to question inherited beliefs about who they should be and ways they can live freely. It feels like this immense privilege of my life that I get such access to the resources and the freedom that allow me to question, challenge, reimagine ways of being and living freely. It feels like a huge privilege that they were not afforded, and my parents were not afforded in the same ways as me. The weight of that privilege can also feel quite heavy. It is for these reasons that I kept returning to this desire to carve out space for joy. To dwell in the space of the freedom and luxury, even if it co-exists as a feeling of responsibility as well. I felt this need to honour them through joy and dance brings me joy. This led to the question of: how can I dance in a way that creates joy? And it is through de-centering perfectionism and hyper-fixation on production that I was able to grant myself the permission to get into a dance studio, play their favourite old Bollywood songs, and dance for pleasure. I asked them if they wanted to come with me to the studio to join me to dance. Discover movements in my body by asking where do we feel this music? What wants to move from this music? How can I move my body, as if I am moving their body? How can I then search for pleasure and joy in my body for all of us? All of us that want to dance? All of us that want to feel joy? All of us who deserve joy in this physical realm and their spiritual realm? How can the weight of this privilege I feel be lightened by carving out space for shared joy together? How can I be their joy?  

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