Freedom to Move is a five-day caucus comprising talks, happenings, performances, screenings, experiments, workshops, and food, hosted by Ponderosa and curated by Joy Mariama Smith, with guest mediators Jen Polins and Kathleen Hermesdorf.
It presents opportunities to engage with this theme,
and how it relates to various disciplines such as improvisation, porn, ritual, storytelling, intersectional feminism, self-defense, and beyond.
caucus /ˈkɑːkəs/ (noun) — a group of people who meet to discuss a particular issue or to work together for a shared, usually political goal.
A collective engagement
For Freedom to Move, Smith has invited artists, activists, critical thinkers, facilitators, movers and shakers to engage in a dynamic process of excavation around the notion of freedomand movement. The aim is to bring together different perspectives and share resources and knowledge in order to strengthen, and support each other in our collective efforts to protect our agency and freedom to move. With our differences, how can we move together towards a more sustainable and accessible notion of freedom? Who is free to move? Where? And why?
In our collective engagement, we aim to create awareness around agency, consent, autonomy, privilege, and access. We will focus on creating a platform for people that have been marginalized to speak and share and learn from each other, celebrating our differences, and coming together. We believe that if we are free to move together, we are stronger!
Offerings and possibilities
As part of the Freedom to Move Caucus, there will be numerous offerings and events presented at Ponderosa. The outline is given here, with many further details below on the individual offerings — the details below are also being actively updated, so please make sure to check back for more soon.
Mad Kate — Bodying Desire: Explorations of Movement and Touch informed by Sex Work
Through the lens of our experience as sex workers and porn performers, we will investigate consent, verbal and non-verbal cues, and embodiment of desire — expanding the possibilities of touch and negotiating power at the borders.
Zwoisy Mears-Clarke — Immovable Barriers
"When a person who is sitting in a wheelchair wants to climb and jump over a 3 meter-high wooden fence, what do they use to do it? A chainsaw!"
In a space that is not accessible, we will come together to carve out time for the topic of wheelchair and non-sighted (blind or visually disabled) mobility. Questions such as "What is the amount of sight that would deem someone lawfully visually disabled?", "How can I make an event accessible to blind and visually disabled persons?", "Is the supermarket that I go to wheelchair accessible?" and, "How easy is it to get last minute tickets on a train if you use a wheelchair?" will be raised. We will share our own knowledge and gather further information, and in this way develop a further intimacy with "the freedom to move".
Zwoisy Mears-Clarke — Remaining Tangential
During this workshop, we will enter into a mostly non-verbal space where the focus nevertheless is both listening and communication – the communication of our stories, our struggles, our celebrations, or whatever else in that moment you need/want to share. Through improvisational tasks, we will translate our stories into movement that is not sensed through sight but through touch, i.e. non-visual dance. As Sarah Ahmed suggests, it is the engagement with our surface (our skin) that informs us not only about ourselves, but also the other(s) and their relationship to us – imagine a hug, a slap, a pinch, or someone's head resting on your shoulder. Following this triad, we will research how can we listen to and care for our own body and at the same time as another persons. In a way it is both a practice of listening and expressing oneself, and a personal investigation into how care (self-care, care for the relationship, and care for the other) informs this dialogue.
This workshop utilizes touch; physical boundaries will be self-directed and the responsibility of respecting these boundaries will be shared by all.
Calu Lema — Gender is Over
A two-hour interactive session to explore, de-construct and play with gender (identity, expression, roles, etc). We will use movement to engage in a series of exercises that will lead us to discussions in smaller groups. Halfway we will move to a wider exchange to look at topics such as non-binary identities, microaggressions, activism, language and allyship. Together we can increase our awareness, share resources and support each others' journey.
Calu Lema — Unstoppable by Borders, Exploring Movement and Migration
A workshop to explore internal and external borders; inherited, forced upon, self-imposed. More to come...
Calu Lema — Naked Movement
Naked Movement blends movement meditation and naked exploration in a powerful, transformative and playful journey that allows us to make space in our bodies for new narratives. By bringing together two transformative practices we invite ourselves to let go of our fears, release our conditionings and present ourselves more authentically. Loving ourselves naked is loving ourselves vulnerable, exposed, flawed, complicated, undone… it is loving our censored, edited, hidden self.
We usually open the space by setting a personal intention and exploring boundaries. Layer by layer we have the opportunity to connect with curiosity and playfulness; we have a chance to see ourselves mirrored by other explorers.
By staying committed to the journey we use our resistance to reach subtler and deeper stories stored in our body. We navigate peaks and depths throughout the session and receive from the experience as much as we are willing to risk.
We are a body positive, consent based, all gender friendly space. Nudity is optional.
Idàn Sagiv Richter — Cats in the Night
Cats are inspiring creatures, sent to us by the gods. If we let them, they can teach us wonderful ways of bonding, caring for each other and expressing affection gracefully. This workshop is about creating a (feline) space of intimacy, in which participants get to explore a more playful fashion of touch, physical closeness and communal care.
Idàn Sagiv Richter — Cloudbusting
Cloudbusting is a game of magic and intimacy. To the music of Kate Bush's dreamy tunes we'll embark on a journey to find new connections with the people around us, lead by a random series of suggestions. You are invited to dance with yourself, with others and with the world. For a short moment, I invite you to dare and live your dream life, to love yourself and others, let your heart guide you.
Manu – Moving as a Practice of Freedom
In this workshop, open to functional diversity, we would explore and interrogate how the political structures that shape our world affect our bodies. We would try to find space and observe what is and what isn't affected by these structure, and also our own bodies affects those structures.
We would try to make some cracks in the surrounding shells, play with the lights and the darkness coming from it, we would laugh, cry, get angry, get bored, be slow and fast, be cute and attentionnate to each others, be rough and careless, have fun.
With a range of movement and vocal based exercise/game/practice, rooted in the listening of ourself, others and close environment we could try to expand our movements, as a practice of freedom.
Eroca Nicols – Aggressive Snuggling: From the Politics of Touch to the Poetics of Touch
I have recently started studying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and I see many parallels to contact improvisation. Like contact improvisation, in BJJ it is absolutely necessary to commit all my attention to the task at hand because of real physical risk. One of the aspects I love about BJJ and where I see a very real difference from CI, is the incredible clarity of boundaries. When a person "taps out" a little tap on the shoulder or leg or really anywhere that can be reached, means: stop doing what you are doing, let go, physically come apart and start again. Also, before engaging in any touch, there is a customary high five then fist bump. The cues are not a suggestion of agreement, these cues are clear; yes, I agree to engage and; no, I longer agree and we are now stopping.
Often boundaries are muddy in contact improvisation and there are many reasons for this including systemic hetero-patriarchy, white supremacy, colonialist ideas of "freedom" and ableism. CI culture can include clear boundaries but in my experience it does not and this excludes many people particularly many women and femme presenting folks, queer folks, gender fluid folks, people of color and folks of different abilities. I want CI to be a place I can invite my community but it is currently not. Perhaps by adopting some of the explicit consent codes of BJJ, we can address some of the issues around consent and boundaries that exist inside the CI community. And do so with care and openness.
I want to stress the importance and the place for the politics of touch to precede the poetics of touch. I believe that we can begin to work on this and at the same time have a good time learning some fun skills from another partnered movement practice (BJJ.)
Here's a list of some of the things we will definitely do:
More skills we will work on:
I will introduce the specific physical consent strategies practiced in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. We will work on techniques for application of pressure on another body as well as several submissions, specifically an arm lock and a blood choke from multiple angles.
Caitlin Fisher – post-PLAY
Fisher, a former pro athlete, uses movement and embodied knowledge from the pitch to examine the labor of professional football and the disparities in the treatment of the bodies that play it. 'Equal pay for equal play' -- you play the same game for the same duration with the same exertion and yet the market says one of you has no value in this space...but you keep performing. What possibilities are there for a post-play beyond the market and what postures are required of us?
DIT* DJ Lab: DJing against patriarchy
This lab is hands on. An open soft laboratory where we support each other in investigating how we can use music to create narratives, build communities, heal and work against the patriarchy. We acknowledge that mainstream DJ culture is a white male dominated field and we are actively working against that. We acknowledge that we have our own desire, ideas and information to share all fulled by a love of playing and listening to music. All levels welcome! Come with what you have-computer, usb, or nothing but curiosity. Our aim is to experiment together and support each other in holding a safe and positive space to skill-share, ask questions and learn from each other in a relaxed no stakes/low stakes setting. While this laboratory is open to all, we want to actively de-prioritize cisgendered heterosexual white men. We want to lift up queers, womxn, trans and others to use music to actively work against the patriarchy. Participants will have the opportunity to DJ at the caucus closing party.
*DIT: Do It Together