Tomorrow, it begins

Welcome to the Fronteras blog!

Here, you can keep up with the project in all of its forms: read recaps of workshops with various organizations and communities, see photos and videos from rehearsals, and read critical essays written by Almanac company members and guests that will dramaturgically influence the work. Blog posts will rotate authors. 

Tomorrow afternoon, Emmanuel arrives to the Philadelphia airport – and our project begins. Yet our project really began about three years ago, when I met Emmanuel (as well as Almanac company member Evelyn Langley – who arrives to join the Fronteras work next week) at dance camp in the woods in Maine. Emmanuel and I were not only roommates, but placed on the dinner shift, cooking for 15-30 people each night. We bonded immediately when we both ate a poisonous mushroom (that's a longer story), and, learned each other's artistic sensibilities through seasoning the food in the kitchen.  We created several performance pieces together, and eventually began to dream about working together after the summer ended. If you want a glimpse of that summer, Evelyn, Emmanuel, a friend and I spent a Saturday afternoon making this dance film/music video inspired by a couple of old snowsuits we found at the dump:

Our collaborative relationship has continued since then, with frequent calls, visits, and facebook chats, but I also think that Fronteras as a line of inquiry began on one specific night in in the Lodge at that same dance camp. It turns out that no matter how much you think you know a person, and how much they love you, pervasive negative cultural stereotypes can be hidden beneath the surface. When you find yourself devalued, written off, or passed over because of a part of your identity that you can't change by a person who you thought only wanted the best for you, it immediately summons a wall that can't easily be crossed. Or perhaps, that wall is only newly visible when it was there all along — but either way, it hurts like a punch in the gut. When that experience happened to Emmanuel, I was not only witness to his betrayal, but also outraged on behalf of my generation (not inconsequentially, the person who made the offending comments we both heard is significantly older) and guilty on behalf of my whiteness. Why do we continue to divide ourselves by make assumptions about others? And what assumptions do we make about ourselves that guide our decision making? These are just a handful of the questions we'll start pursuing tomorrow. 

I feel incredibly lucky to be able to continue a collaborative relationship between Almanac and Emmanuel – a match that felt amazing this summer, when had the chance to create a performance piece in Mexico City. I can't wait to see the work that we collectively create in Fronteras, and, in an effort to remove the borders between us, I hope that you will follow us on our journey. 

-Ben