Parenthood is complicated. As strangely miraculous as raising a child can seem, it’s one of the single most common things in the world. All people start out as smaller people. There are people there who watch over them as they get bigger. We generally tend to call these people parents. It’s simple, but it’s complicated. It’s also really difficult to infuse any sense of genuine insight into this process. This winter, Cooperative Performance Milwaukee presents a surprisingly deep, little video package on the topic. Embodied Truth: Finding Ways to Move Together. It’s a mixture of dance, spoken word and candid first-person stories that packs one hell of a lot into a beautifully concise, little half-hour package.
Creator/Directors Daniel Burkholder & Kimani Fowlin have assembled an earthbound, domestic footage of a diverse group of dancer parents from the Milwaukee area. Black, white, straight and gay parents talk about firsthand experiences parenting that weave back and forth in and out of elegantly simple dance moves that have been shot in deliciously familiar residential Milwaukee settings. In addition to personal narratives, there’s a poetry of abstract emotions, hopes, dreams and anxieties that filter through the program.
Videographer/Video Editor Chad Speed allows the music, dance and narrative more than enough space to breathe on its own without rigidly over-rendering the presentation. Black and white title cards introduce each segment. All the light comes from the sun. All the passion and compassion come from within as dancer/performers reflect on the nature of raising kids in gorgeously organic moments of reflection.
Burkholder and Fowlin have pointed Speed’s lens in just the right direction for a locally-produced video short. Parenthood has been explored exhaustively in film and video over the years. What’s the draw of one more half-hour on the topic? It’s the immediacy of it all. Burkholder and Fowlin may not have the immediacy of the live stage for their performance, but they DO take full advantage of the opportunity to firmly root the program in Milwaukee. The program offers an opportunity to spend a little time with friendly familiar strangers who are all experiencing the same aspect of life from many, many different angles that are all firmly planted in the same city.
Parents dance to the elegantly delicate pulse of music by Alvin Hill in minimalist movements in as traffic casually passes by on the street beyond in a placid Milwaukee mid-day sun in the warmth of early autumn. The dancers are local parents who talk about experiences they’ve had...from prejudice and racial segregation to the tragic complexities posed by a simple cap gun in the wake of the Tamir Rice shooting to video games and beyond. It’s all deeply emotionally engaging work told in living rooms and in residential back alleys and along trails in and around greater Milwaukee.
Cooperative Performance Milwaukee’s Embodied Truth: Finding Ways to Move Together is available on demand through February 7 on Vimeo. For more information, visit Cooperative Performance online.