"Hands to Earth (The Shortest Distance)"
Performance/dance project

In American environmentalist Wendell Berry’s book, The Unsettling of America, he quotes: “Find the shortest, simplest way between the earth, the hands and the mouth.” The small-scale farmer engages direct physical contact with the land - seed, soil and plants – with the hands being integral to the labor as well as the fundamental link between “earth” and “mouth” in an ecologically healthy system. This new work will utilize the language of classical Indian dance to illustrate laboring bodies involved in the small-scale agricultural spectrum from planting of the seed to the harvest.  “Abhinaya” or the expressive vocabulary of the dance, integrates intricate facial and hand gestures with rhythmic footwork. In our experimentation with the form, symbiotic relationships between humans, physical work and the land will be the physical movement that inspires the piece. Observation of the activities and labor on small farms in several Midwestern states during site visits will be documented through video-audio recordings, interviews, etc., capturing different phases of the agricultural season. The collected material will be interpreted through dance and the performance will incorporate video and audio material collected during the farm visits as an interactive component.

Farm in Image: Sandhill Farm, Rutledge, MO

Photograph: Lisa Wigoda