A Note on Lavi Miyò, Resistance & Revolisyon/Revolution – by Veroneque F. Ignace

Veroneque 2Consider these terms. Their definitions courtesy of Merriam-Webster:
Resilience: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change
Resistance:  the ability to prevent something from having an effect
Power: a person or organization that has a lot of control and influence over other people or organizations
Empowerment: to promote the self-actualization or influence of

Consider the way in which these words are used. Apply them now to peoples of color, to the effects of institutionalized violence on them, and to their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

What have you come up with?

Perhaps a string of sentences building the personage of oppressed peoples as an embodiment of these words, in that we endure so much, yet, we persist. We persist because our histories paint pictures of strong willed black men and women who would do many things except take ‘no’ for an answer. We persist because we understand that the fight for equality is more that just that — it is war declared against those institutions and doctrines that are conspiring to systematically erase black faces from the past, present, and future.

In honor of 212 years of Haitian Independence celebrated at the beginning of the year with one oversized pot of the ceremonious and celebrated Soup Joumou (traditional pumpkin soup eaten to commemorate the victory of the Haitian Revolution), let us hone in on the stories of the Haitian community both on the island and beyond. Almost six years after the earthquake that devastated the country, many people still struggle to improve their conditions. From the continuous discordance in government, to the wavering efforts of the people to organize amidst discouragement, to the lack of proper waste disposal — all in conjunction with the struggle to bring in a steady income for food, education, etc. — challenges such as these are recurring, and especially evident in the most populated areas of the country’s capital.

Indefinitely, there are many facets to the issues that Haiti as a whole must tackle. Nonetheless, it is my contention that the first step begins with debunking the long-lived decree that Haiti is the prime incubator for resilient people, exemplifying the spirit of revolution in all that we do. Take heed, though, that to hold ideas of a future where Haiti becomes the place that my parents remember — and where being treated at L’Hopital General is not (said to be) determined by whether or not you, the patient, had access to your own gloves prior to admittance —inherently involves believing in and supporting an almost divine explanation for the capacity of your average Haitian to resist and empower. Still, I believe that we can and must do this without ignoring the unique, individual, and small incidents, and subsequent victories, that build towards those larger ideas we hold onto and cherish.

Lavi Miyò is to be my response to this dilemma. The argument at its foundation is the claim that blindly consuming the overarching and highly romanticized notions of resistance with regards to black peoples, and especially people of Haitian descent, disregards the day-to-day traumas that individuals experience, thereby belittling the journey to actually being whole and recovered persons. With the installation of this work-in-progress, done in collaboration with Haiti Cultural Exchange of Brooklyn, my hope is to engage in a first-time exchange with my own Brooklyn community, highlighting less the spirit of resistance and more the journey to becoming resistant as one individual and as a community member.

Lavi Miyò contains four sections tracing the stories of six performers, threading them together such that they become one. The point of this is to experiment with the boundaries between individuality and community. In doing so, we explore the ways in which we might reject the individual to favor maintaining a larger and all-encompassing idea of community. We aim to highlight our understanding that being a part of community is in no way synonymous with assimilation. In the same breath, we seek to explicate how giving value to individual stories of trauma and recovery does not belittle the grandiose image of community resistance and community revolutionary spirit.

Section one of the piece, ‘Birth/Naissance,’ focuses on the idea of beginnings. For example, in Vodou, the Afro-descended religion of Haiti, life begins anew when a person is an initiate. That person has the opportunity to engage in serious self-reflection ultimately leading them devote themselves to others, to prayer, to charity, to community, and to defending all of those things. Though we may define birth (i.e. where life begins) differently, the sentiment behind the idea is the same.

Section two, ‘Life/Vie,’ describes the trials and tribulations that we face everyday. Each dancer tells their individual story through movement while finding a niche in the one story being communicated through poetry. The beauty in the section is the commonality in the struggle and the process through which the dancers achieve potential success. Highlighting resistance — that you can, that sometimes you can’t, that it’s enough, and that sometimes it isn’t — is key.

Section three, ‘Death/Mort,’ discusses not only death for people, but also the death of tradition, culture, religion, and philosophy, with a particular focus on Vodou, as it is most paralleled to the identity of Haiti as revolutionary. The goal is to comment on the idea that although Afro-traditions provide us with many beautiful things, it does not mean that they are unaffected by misconceptions and by the institutions and systems working to target the livelihood of black people daily.

Section four, ‘Life-After/Au-delà,’ celebrates the spirit of community as the driver for pushing efforts toward resistance, resilience, empowerment, and ultimately liberation and recovery.

Consider these terms. Their definitions courtesy of Merriam-Webster:
Community: a unified body of individuals
Recovery: the act or process of becoming healthy after an illness or injury
Liberation: the act or process of freeing someone or something from another’s control; the act of liberating someone or something
Peace: a state of tranquillity or quiet

Consider the way in which these words are used. Apply them now to peoples of color, to the effects of institutionalized violence on them, and to their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

What have you come up with?

This post was originally posted on January 1, 2016 on Resist N Restore.

Lavi Miyò | Dance Performance and An n’ Pale featuring Veroneque F. Ignace
DATE/TIME:
Friday, January 29th | 6-9pm
LOCATION:
Haiti Cultural Exchange
558 St. John’s Place | Brooklyn, NY | MAP
Take the 2, 3, 4, or 5 train to Franklin Ave.
ADMISSION:
$10 Suggested Donation

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 6th, 2016 at 10:28 am and is filed under Arts, Dance, Uncategorized, Visual Art. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.