Hi Everyone. This is my first month as the Rail’s dance editor. I was going to write one of those letters about how excited I am about this (which is true), and how I have all these ideas for making the section into a vibrant, artistic space (also true, but, honestly, letters like that always kind of irritate me, especially when I’m the one writing them).
So, I decided instead to publish someone else’s letter to New York—it’s not really a letter, it’s a small part of the score for Tarek Halaby’s solo, An attempt to understand my socio-political disposition through artistic research on personal identity in relationship to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Part One, which he performed at Abrons Arts Center as part of the American Realness festival (see Patricia Milder’s essay, for more on that).
Tarek was gracious enough to let me pull a few segments out of context and rearrange them for my purposes, which I’m afraid rather blunts the political immediacy of his performance. Try to imagine being held hostage in a room (isn’t that what happens in the theater?) by a very mild, apologetic, but insistent young artist. Imagine him shining lights in your eyes, and (quietly) barking insults at you, like you’re at a military checkpoint, only the lights are entirely gentle and the soldier has given you sunglasses, just in case. He stops and starts, tangles and trails off. And then, at the end, he is standing, only standing: finally, arriving at a movement vocabulary that begins, however inadequately, to convey what he wants so badly to convey.