Steering group member, Ingrid Mackinnon, on big questions and important conversations.
Like most movement people I am interested in bodies in space, how the bodies are affected by the space they are in and how the space is transformed by the bodies within it. And like most, I’m interested in words, particularly the order of words.
What does this have to do with anything related to movement?
Ok yes, this is a weird start to this blog post but stay with me. Some of what I’m about to mention may be difficult or even invoke physical reactions in you, stay with it. Like most potentially uncomfortable, difficult or even hard conversations it’s sometimes easier to warm up, massage and ease our way in. This is what I’m trying to do, stumbling my way into a topic that is too epic for this post but needs to be offered in the space nonetheless.
So, to relate this to movement practice think of this as the warm-up you might get to do with a company ahead of a session. Without this warm-up the approach can feel hard, possibly even too direct for some. Even injury might occur and I for one do not want to come across as the ‘mad, angry Black woman’ – oh I forgot to mention for those who may not know me, I’m Ingrid Mackinnon and I’m Black, a woman and sometimes angry.
Sorry, back to difficult conversations, the hard approach sometimes results in rigidity, bodies and minds that are so paralysed with worry about saying the wrong thing that they say nothing at all. And trust me when I say that silence is much worse. In fact when we are silent, we remain complicit in supporting systemic structures that alienate and discriminate others. That was a deep lunge that we may not have warmed up sufficiently for, but it leads me back to my point about words. There are many new words in our everyday lexicon thanks to the pandemic such as self-isolate, quarantine, lockdown and social distance and many more to boot. Another one that is rolling off of tongues currently is Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. It’s a mouthful of really hefty words that have quickly been abbreviated to EDI; I suspect to take the pressure off their individual importance.
I wonder, why does Equality come first in this title? I mean, who decided that Equality might benefit from being first? In my experience, it’s Diversity that gets the most discussion and airtime so why not call it Diversity, Equality and Inclusion? I guess if we did that, then one might think that if we have Diversity then there is Equality. Job done.
But where does that leave Inclusion? Speaking quite frankly, inclusion has become such a sexy word that many have begun to add it to their professional elevator pitch. Heavy words that float off of tongues taking a rather indirect route to silence. Ok back to EDI, my movement director brain is rejigging the blocking and thinks that we should try Inclusion, Diversity and Equality.
Hear me out, because if we have included everyone in the room, with all of the Diverse aspects that make them human, we might get one step closer to Equality?
What do you think? You see, I have given this a lot of thought. As a Black Female creative there are many times that I have felt excluded, too diverse and exponentially unequal to everyone I’m in the room with for reasons that are now called protected characteristics. Some of these characteristics are visible and some are not visible.
So, my fellow movement folks, what do you think? What do you think about EDI? What do you think about language? Has your language changed in the rooms that you lead since EDI started rolling off of tongues? I hope that these conversations are happening in private spaces and if they are, HURRAY! But now it is time for our movement community to unpack these words - EQUALITY, DIVERSITY and INCLUSION -with the same glee that we might unpack a Laban principle, polyrhythm or kinaesthetic awareness.
Hopefully I have gently warmed you up into discussion. I hope that your minds are beginning to feel ready for the hard conversations, the important conversations that affect all of us. I hope that we feel brave to take risks to say something because saying something is better than saying nothing at all.
Ingrid Mackinnon is a London based movement director and choreographer.
Movement direction credits include Liar Heretic Thief (Lyric); Reimagining Cacophony (Almeida); The Border (Theatre Centre); #WeAreArrested (RSC); First Encounters: The Merchant Of Venice (RSC); Kingdom Come (RSC); Typical (Soho Theatre); Fantastic Mr. Fox (associate movement Nuffield Southampton and National/International tour); Hamlet; #DR@CULA! (RCSSD); Bonnie & Clyde (UWL: London College Of Music).
Choreography and rehearsal direction credits include: The Headwrap Diaries (assistant choreographer and rehearsal director) for Uchenna Dance; Our Mighty Groove (rehearsal director) for Uchenna Dance; Three Penny Opera (choreographer) for Wac Arts; Boy Breaking Glass (rehearsal director) for Vocab Dance/Alesandra Seutin; Hansel and Gretel (assistant choreographer and rehearsal director) for Uchenna Dance; Imoinda (choreographer); In The Heights (choreographer) for Wac Arts.
Ingrid holds an MA in Movement: Directing & Teaching from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.