Tuesday, September 22, 2015
I look upon my dance community, and it causes me great pain to see and hear all of the anguish, suffering, and confusion. This dance is supposed to be about celebration, exploration, and expression. It should be a safe place for all to learn, grow, and share in.
I received notice that my own image was included in this controversy. I have not seen the images, but I don't need to - it doesn't change my anger and hurt over this. My heart goes out to my fellow dancers likewise directly or indirectly affected, and I appreciate all of those who wish to support us. I am deeply hurt, shocked, angered, and disappointed by actions taken by individuals in our community who claim to support us and our work. There is no excuse for such behavior, and wrong has been clearly done.
Having been a teacher, vendor, and volunteer at Tribal Fest for over a decade, I feel wrecked and raw. Kajira has been a close friend and mentor for many years, and has been there for me in times of need. I can't even properly express the amount of anguish I feel for her, and all of us affected - which really is...everyone. No one, it doesn't matter how many or how few, should be treated in the manners that were expressed.
I feel that I must make a statement about this situation for several reasons. I was not involved or consulted in the statement that went public on Sunday, and I don't feel comfortable letting other people speak for me or make actions on my behalf. My name and my word is my power. I want to talk about resolution, what is being done and what can be done to rectify this situation, what actions can be taken to further prevent these kind of activities and other dishonorable behavior within the community, and what sort of future are we building for our dance.
While I have not talked with any of the other members of the private group, I have spoken at length with Chuck and expressed my hurt and my anger to him in no uncertain terms. He was forthright in accepting his responsibility and apologizing unreservedly for his actions. But an apology doesn't remove the pain or make the situation go away. It is a step in the right direction, though - the first of many steps that he will need to undertake in order to properly make amends for his actions. I do believe he is truly sorry for his actions (and also lack there of), and that growth can come from this. Regaining trust and respect is going to be a difficult road and is going to take a long time - of that I have no doubt.
This past Tribal Fest was an especially powerful one for me. After years of working through difficult personal circumstances and professional drama within the community,TF15 truly felt like a homecoming. I feel like I was able to make peace with folks I have been estranged from, and I know others felt that way as well. So this tragedy makes that contrast all the more painful. Tribal Fest means so much to so many people, and has weathered so many changing conditions in the dance community. I believe it is possible to rekindle the spirit and beauty that is at the heart of the event, and get past this as well. I am willing to give Tribal Fest the benefit of the doubt, and lend my support to Kajira for reclaiming it as a safe, loving, and powerful space for our community.
Our society is in a state of flux, where outdated and small-minded acts are being purged for a more equal, healthy society that fosters respect and understanding. There are definitely some trees in our forest that need pruning, and I think we can do that without burning down the whole forest. I know that I, myself have made mistakes in the past, and have been granted the space to make it better - and I have extended this same courtesy to others. I believe in making amends and helping to facilitate positive change. I'm asking myself, those involved, as well as you, what are our next actions? What can we do to foster growth and healing, promote education and support, and strengthen our community?
One thing that I am doing to address this: In just a few weeks, the event that I produce, Waking Persephone, will take place for its 4th year. One of our features is our free, open-to-all community roundtable experience, where attendees can discuss problems, issues, and perspectives affecting them, and ask questions of their dance leaders. I am honored that Kajira is on our teaching staff this year, and I have asked her to address what has happened and be open to the community's questions and thoughts. I invite all attendees and the larger community in general to come and participate.
I am still absorbing the shock of all of what has happened, and it will take time to recover. I will do what I can to be available to my friends, students, and family, and I am very much interested in your thoughts and suggestions. My deepest hope is that the dance community will emerge out of this crisis even stronger, more beautiful, and more supportive.
Posted by Tempest at 3:15 PM