DANCE TO THE PEOPLE
“Trash Outings” are a participatory performative practice around Trash guided by members of Dance to the People. Any person regardless of experience or ability is welcome to join as an activist and performer.
Starting in 2019, Dance to the People incorporated trash exploration and performance into a previously established practice of outdoor movement meditation with nature. The goal is to experience Trash physically, as an undeniable object, product of a consumerist society. This action ties together the global climate crisis, the destruction of nature, with social injustice and gross inequality. We use trash to illustrate the impact of capitalism as a system of oppression upon the lives of poor people and people of color, as well as other life forms and entire ecosystems, which are experienced locally and observed globally.
Trash Outings consist of three-hour immersive sessions in which we: 1) Conduct a guided movement meditation in a community green space, 2) Engage in a trash collection route and 3) Perform an improvised movement score with the collected trash near high-traffic public spaces.
In the guided meditation with nature, performers begin by sitting or walking with their eyes closed while paying attention to sound escapes, and to the relationship between their bodies and the environment. After twenty minutes, movement beyond walking or breathing is encouraged, but remaining with eyes closed. In the last twenty minutes, everyone continues with eyes open, engaging in movement and witnessing exchanges between the human and the non-human experience. As the group transitions to the trash collection route, we strive to maintain this heightened awareness of interconnectedness with our ecosystem, which includes trash.
Collected trash falls into three categories: “Rescued trash” (recyclables, cans and bottles we can donate to “canners,” and food that is still edible or can be composted), “Good Trash” (objects that still work and can continue to be used, i.e. iron, lamp, dish rack, and objects that are interesting to move with, i.e. American flag, paintings, hula hoops, boxes, etc.) and “Trash-Trash” (everything that is unsalvageable). The route leads from the park to a spot nearby, such as a recycling center, subway stop, or a high-traffic place of consumerism, where the entire group performs improvised movement with trash.
In 2019 there were ten Trash Outings in the parks and streets of Bushwick, Ridgewood, Greenpoint, and Fort Tilden beach, and they engaged a total of 37 performers.