Caitlin E. Mahon, MFA
MAYHEM//dance is a project based company established in 2017 by Caitlin E. Mahon-- premiering at Mark Morris Dance Center, NYC.
When I was a child, I was engulfed by the dance forms of Tap and Hip Hop. These forms from the African Diaspora have innately seeped into the research I pursue and the classes I teach. From an embodied perspective to a researched practice, Hip Hop dance and its culture has always held immense value for me. Performing it in a studio and on stages, as well as researching its roots has deepened my understanding of the value this form possesses in the larger scope of the world outside of a studio setting. Hip Hop, as a dance form, has a beautiful inclusive nature. As House dance’s motto states, “it doesn’t matter if you are White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, LGBTQ+, or hetero-normative, everyone is welcome to dance in our house.” These core values of Hip Hop, as well as the athletic explosive nature of the art form are what I wish to share with my students, and to utilize this notion to continue to propel my research. It is my wholehearted belief that everyone has the right to occupy space, in a large way, even when they feel as if society does not want to let them “be large” in a literal and metaphorical sense.
Peaceful Embodiment Not Merely Tranquil in Nature
Choreography influences theoretical research and theoretical research influences choreography. In the past, [and present] bodies have served as vehicles for protest and have been equipped with training, plans, and choreographic tactics used to carry out movements aimed toward revolution. It is these bodies occupying space at a lunch counter, at a sit-in, at a march, and on a street which possess the ability to influence a revolt, just as the body on a proscenium stage can influence a visceral reaction from the audience members inciting action. My research as a choreographer is directly influenced by my interest in demonstrations and protests, from the past to the present, and how they are in fact an extension of dance through their own use of choreography. My objective as a choreographer is to present how more traditional forms of dance choreography can be an extension of protest, abstract images, and powerful symbols. In the piece of choreography Buckworld One, choreographer Carrie Mikuls, takes the dance form of Krumping— out of its original context— to the concert stage. Dr. Megan Ann Todd, Independent Scholar and adjunct professor of Dance at Mesa Community College in Mes, Arizona, states this about the work,
These moments in performance are exactly how and why art and performance can and do change lives. They bring the audience into presence, into the present… These moments in performance act as a catalyst for social justice inciting visceral and emotional responses, critical thought, discussion and a deep sense of accountability that begins in the space of the theatre and reaches beyond.i
Dr. Todd’s words succinctly encapsulate the impetus of what motivates me to create choreography. Whether an audience member understands all of the crafted nuances or not, of the dance work being witnessed, seeing bodies dance can cause a visceral reaction to make audience members react.
i Todd, Megan Anne “Aesthetic Foundations & Activist Strategies of Intervention in Rickerby Hinds’ Buckworld One.” The Journal of Pan African Studies 4.06 (2011): 164. Web.