Activism as metamorphosis...


Activism has existed in my veins and heartbeat for as long as I can remember. Over the years I have expressed my feelings, values and dreams in many shapes and forms. From these rich experiences, my activism has consistently changed form as I grow in my wisdom and understanding. I feel as though I am in constant metamorphosis as a performer.

I think as many of us go through life we are both consciously and unconsciously metamorphosing in the way we perform in the world. Like a snake sheds its skins, you may find yourself going through transformational processes in what you feel strongly about and the way you wish to perform.

McKenna (1994) plays with the idea of 'Metatheory' whereby a researcher's personal theory and process evolves as does their ability to stay in tune with its evolution (McKenna, 1994: 98). Basically, this is labeling something many of us might already do - having awareness/self-knowledge of your own personal philosophies and how they can grow and change over time. Although this term 'metatheory' has been coined in the Drama arena, I think that it can apply to most aspects of our lives and in keeping in tune with ourselves. It is a reminder that there is an element of necessity to be reflective in how we perform and why it may need to undergo metamorphosis. For example, it can prevent us from following agendas that do not reflect our values/truth. Although McKenna (1994; 98) speaks about this self-knowledge as a mental perspective, I think that it should be applied to all levels; mentally, emotionally, bodily/sensuously, spiritually. These other aspects of ourselves invite new forms of knowledge that can add profound insight into ourselves and our transformational processes. I speak about this more in my Personal experiences section whereby I use dance as a tool for deep exploration.

Sometimes when I think about the feeling and process of activism, I think about the life-cycle of a tree.

Often it starts out as a little seed. The seed births from a thought, or a feeling about a particular thing. Depending on what's going on for that seed and its surroundings its seed may grow, until it becomes so strong and intense that it germinates. That is when it starts to make changes, it has built up enough passion and desire that it starts to grow towards making change. However, it needs certain things to sustain its growth like water, sunshine and nutrients which are all symbolic to different things depending on the context. The more support the seed has from these surrounding elements, the stronger and healthier the plant becomes. If these are in abundance and it still has the will to grow, it can grow towards the sky and stretch out. It will provide for those around in many ways, oxygen for life, homes for its forested friends, shade for the hot and weary, nutrients for the soil. Maybe it will even bear fruit. Or maybe it's not the right time and place for the plant to have a major impact.

For me, performing my truth can also be an incredibly vulnerable process which is why I use the term 'heart of activism'. In many ways it can sometimes feel like you are wearing your heart on your sleeve when you are performing what is fully authentically true to you. However, there is a whole journey involved in dissolving that vulnerability and protecting ourselves emotionally and psychically from the judgment of others. I don't always feel vulnerable. I tend to feel vulnerable when I'm about to do something really 'out there' and don't know how observers may react. Sometimes I don't care about reaction and just need to reveal my truth. I am deeply inspired and in awe of those that make themselves vulnerable through their performances.

"The Dance is about finding ways to let our essential nature guide our choices and actions. It's about honestly looking at the times when it is hard for us to remember and be guided by who we really are - the times when we are tired and hurt, frightened and angry"
(Oriah Mountain Dreamer, 2001: 13)