How to be Afraid? with mayfield brooks, Mary Pearson & collaborators
24 – 28 May 2021
Various events (see below)
How to be Afraid? led by mayfield brooks and Mary Pearson comes to Independent Dance for a week of practice, discussion, collaboration and performance. For this iteration of the project, they are joined by collaborators Akeim Toussaint Buck, Seke Chimutengwende, Anne-Gaëlle Thiriot and Amy Voris.
Read more about How to be Afraid?
How to be Afraid? explores fear and trauma stemming from brooks and Pearson’s different but connected ancestral links to the transatlantic slave trade. Over the past four years, iterations of this project have manifested in research, workshops and performances in a range of international contexts, most recently through the transatlantic online performance Improvisations with interference: haunted by histories, guided by ghosts, live streamed in February 2021.
Currently, How to be Afraid? explores somatic responses to the turbulent politics and pandemic conditions of this past year. Living in a pandemic has also exposed harsh realities of already pressurized conditions: racial, gender-based and political violence, police brutality, and the increasing momentum of authoritarian governments in many parts of the world.
When a pressure valve is opened, releasing pressure exposes how much was already there. How do we navigate this time when pressure needs to be released? How do we recover from fear of intimacy, if we are afraid? What kind of life and society is this ‘new normal’ and was it ever normal in the first place? How can we duck and dodge the coercive aspects of normalcy?
This week will include:
Mon 24 – Wed 26 May | 3 – 6pm GMT
In person at Siobhan Davies Studios & online
Read more about the Workshop
This workshop explores the central themes in How to be Afraid? across three afternoons. It will be led by Mary Pearson (at SDS) and mayfield brooks (online from New York) together with collaborators Akeim Toussaint Buck, Seke Chimutengwende, Anne-Gaëlle Thiriot and Amy Voris, all of whom will be in the studio at SDS. This hybrid in person/online mode means the research space is open to those who wish to attend in person and those who wish to join online.
We will explore, through listening, witnessing, movement, sound and discussion, how we might recover from fear of intimacy after a year of lockdowns and physical distancing. What kind of life and society is this ‘new normal’ and was it ever normal in the first place? And how can we navigate pressure, and the release of pressure?
In Somatic Experiencing® the terms trauma vortex and counter vortex describe the bodily phenomena that locate us in relation to what feels life-threatening or life-sustaining. During these sessions, we will flex our capacity to feel and move along with these subtle contractions and expansions, towards and away from, resisting against, or seeking connection. Not seeking catharsis, is it possible to collectively build an environment that can adjust to momentary changes in pressure, and also hold and witness what is being released?
Assumptions can be made in somatic practice about everyone feeling good or safe coming into a shared space. How can we simply allow each other to come as we are?
£50 | in person at Siobhan Davies Studios
£40 | online
All places are subsidized
Click here to book – places are limited
Thu 27 May | 6.30 – 8pm GMT
Read more about the Talk
This public discussion will focus on artists who are exploring dismantling, decomposition, crumbling systems and how to work towards change. What does it mean to be a genuine ally or accomplice? How can we sit with discomfort? How do we navigate this time when pressure needs to be released? mayfield brooks, Mary Pearson and collaborators Akeim Toussaint Buck, Seke Chimutengwende, Anne-Gaëlle Thiriot and Amy Voris will be in conversation.
Fri 28 May | 6.30 – 8pm GMT
Read more about the Performance
As bodies in exile, both outside and online, six dancers will simultaneously inhabit their only options for being together. Collaborators mayfield brooks, Akeim Toussaint Buck, Seke Chimutengwende, Mary Pearson, Anne-Gaëlle Thirot and Amy Voris will perform a techno-site-specific ritual between London and New York. This performance will create layered video compositions in real time – using both pre-recorded material, and live streamed improvisations. Dancers will explore the tension of being in public in space in relation to the loss of intimacy and togetherness during Covid. We ask ourselves, do we want to perform or do we just want to be? Do we lean into the present fear of intimacy and its potential contagion? What exists now when we share space together? Also, how do we contend with the other pandemic of racial violence repeating itself and haunting our bodies in the present? Through this shared encounter dancers will investigate how these questions touch each other and the lives around them.
This iteration of How to be Afraid? is co-produced by Mary Pearson, mayfield brooks and Independent Dance in partnership with The Bluecoat (Liverpool) and CPR – Center for Performance Research (New York), supported through public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and with support from Creative Land Trust. Earlier iterations of How to be Afraid? were supported by public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and by Chisenhale Dance Space, Metal (Liverpool), Improspections Festival at the Museum for Contemporary Art, Zagreb and the GPS/Global Practice Sharing program of Movement Research (NYC) with funding from the Trust for Mutual Understanding, and in collaboration with Migrant Artists’ Mutual Aid.
Image: mayfield brooks & Mary Pearson performing How To Be Afraid? at Improspekcije Festival (2019) at Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, photo by Tara Ivanisevic