The above link is a trailer for the Hofesh Shechter Dance Company's performance of Political Mother. Please watch, so you'll know vaguely what I am talking about. :)
I attended this performance at the Orpheum Theater on November 13, and I must say it was one of the most phenomenal things I have ever seen preformed on stage. I felt as though I had seen something that had been written just for me. The subject matter so rich with thematic motifs alluding to the history of a people and the power relations surrounding civilization. An entire spectrum of passion ranging from love to rage was expressed without words, and I firmly believe that an attempt to describe performances like these with words dilutes the message. However words, although sometimes inaccurate and empty, are a completely necessary tool to describe to others.
I felt a personal connection to the piece as it described the motivations behind political movements, war, religion, and other arrangements of power. Aside from being very personally interested in this topic, I felt it had a lot of intrinsic value that applied very directly to this class.
So as not to give too much away (I invite you to watch videos of the full performance online) I'll connect one core motif from the performance to the class. Many times throughout the performance, in a drone of electric guitars and steady drums, there was a person placed above the mass of floor dancers. This was repeated often under different contexts, usually involving the exalted figure who would appear wearing Abraham-era priest garb, a cliche commander get-up, or one one occasion a gorilla mask. This character was always doing the same thing on stage, violently- or passionately, depending on your view- jerking about and speaking gibberish into a microphone addressing both the audience and the crowd of dancers beneath him. Now, where the connection can be made is in the relationship the dancers beneath him have with him. Several times the dancers would raise their hands in his direction, which can be read in a number of ways. When there were guns in the faces of the dancers, coercion. When there were bright lights and relativity calm music, worship/trust/respect. Within the context of the folk music that plays and the ethnicity of the dancer, I was led to believe that a narrative of the Jewish people was being told. This narrative is a rich one full of oppression, violence, passion, and energy that is the perfect mold for a commentary on the "mother of politics". I want to connect this scene of the exalted with our readings on "The Five Faces of Oppression". Although a relatively simple concept, it is this rudimentary understanding that flows with the context of all the readings we have done this far.
When I was viewing this play I believed I was playing spectator to a history of peoples, and when I realized that I could critically engage the piece by analysis on power relations I saw a greatly different piece than I would have just a year or two ago.