Monday, October 08, 2007
Maryhill Integration Network
Last night Soren and I performed "Mother May I" with the those involved in the Maryhill Integration Network and we had a wonderful time. I wrote about this piece a while back but last night it was even more meaningful to me. The network is a group for asylum seekers and refugees in Glasgow and offers a place for the women to meet and have classes, create art and make friends. I have loved meeting these beautiful women and their children and feel so grateful for their examples of strength. During the dance performances last night (which were choreographed by Natasha Gilmore) stories were told through movement and speaking that brought tears and emotion. Missing children, leaving homelands, and accepting the realities of their status here were some of the topics of the piece. And although there are heartaches the women are grateful to be here and be safe.
In Glasgow when an asylum seeker arrives they are given housing but it is in some of the worst parts of the city and they can't work and find a new house until they are given refuge status. This can take a good while. Some leave their beautiful homes behind due to strife in their own countries but come to a new state of poverty and can't better their state until they are permitted to stay on a long term basis. They have skills they can't use and some Glaswegians look down on them because of this catch 22.
Soren and I were in the second piece and while watching the first dance rehearse I was overwhelmed by their depth as women. One beautiful dancer stopped and spoke directly to the audience and said "I miss my children"--she is Armenian and has a 5 year old here with her and has 2 older children that can't come until she is officially a refugee. My other friend, also Armenian, can't be with her husband who is still in Armenia because they are of different religions and their is conflict between the Christians and Muslums. With the music playing there was also recorded text with their stories and Jason was struck by the phrase "love is a method of survival." What a true principle.
In the second dance the children dancing asked poignant questions like "am I Scottish?" while demonstrating a staged game of "mother may I". At one point the mother in charge gets angry with a daughter who wants to go out and play and then the daughter says "mother can I have a hug." After this all of the dancers filter on to the stage for a huge group hug while a Danish singer sings an amazing lullaby. During rehearsal I noticed my beautiful friend crying as we hugged. Some of the simplest movement bring the most meaning. I loved being in this dance and it taught me a lot about being an artist and choreographer but more importantly about life and humanity and love. If that isn't there then nothing else really matters.
Soren was so cute. He was rocking out with all the dancer during the finale. That was a really fun part where all the dancer could wear their traditional clothing and dance for a while.
I'm going to be working with this group every Wednesday night teaching dance to the women and children. I'm so excited and grateful. They also provide a nursery for the littles ones when their class is over so the moms can have a class. How perfect is that! I can bring Soren to the first class with me and then teach the second class while he is in the nursery (and he really likes it). Sometimes the stars line up. I love the women I've met--they are so beautiful!