When we were in the studio Thursday night, doing the choreography that Sondra had created with the men at Greene County Correctional Facility, included in the instructions was that when we stopped to look out, it didn’t have to be friendly or happy – I’m not remembering the exact instruction.

As I went through the dance with my group a second time, which had two distinct places to do that looking out including stopping downstage in line with the group of dancers and later backing up to exit, I found myself connecting with the action, especially the invitation to be serious, even negative.

What came to me was a flood of anger, outrage at the thought that this prison holds 1100 men. One thousand one hundred men. And I felt the fury of that number, knowing the exponential implications of this prison being one among so many in this county, state, country, world. The intolerable-ness of it. The absence of reason. It came to me as a mockery of the notion that we are civilized. How can this be understood as part of being civilized???

And instead of my usual feeling of wanting to just scream to the sky at the absence of logic, to beat my fists toward the sky, the choreography and this instruction allowed me to put my rage and outrage into performance. To look squarely, deeply out, to confront, to say no, to accuse, to reject, and to have the performance thus be validated, connected to abiding desire for justice, and commitment to stand against injustice however I can.

Two things connect to this for me at the moment:

1. a passage from Tony Kushner, from A Bright Room Called Day (1987)

Art…is never enough, it never does enough.
We will be remembered for two things:
our communist art and our fascist politics.
Pick any era in history, Agnes.
What is really beautiful about that era?
The way the rich lived?
The way the poor lived
The dreams of the Left
are always beautiful.
The imagining of a better world
the damnation of the present one.
This faith,
this luminescent anger,
these alone
are worthy of being called human.
These are the Beautiful
that an age produces.

2. a passage from Emma Goldman’s autobiography, Living My Life (1931) p. 296

Of course there were others, those who knew the struggle that is the lot of every sincere and free person, whether he aspires to an ideal in life or in art. To them I addressed my talk on “Art in Life,” pointing out, among other things, that life in all its variety and fullness is art, the highest art. The man who is not part of the stream of life is not an artist, no matter how well he paints sunsets or composes nocturnes. It certainly does not mean that the artist must hold a definite creed, join an anarchist group or a socialist local. It does signify, however, that he must be able to feel the tragedy of the millions condemned to a lack of joy and beauty. The inspiration of the true artist has never been the drawing-room. Great art has always gone to the masses, to their hopes and dreams, for the spark that kindled their souls. The rest, “the many, all too many,” as Nietzsche called mediocrity, have been mere commodities that can be bought with money, cheap glory, or social position.

Claverack, NY (2024)

Peggy Gould / PG embraces the idea (and title) from Fuller, “I seem to be a verb” and aims to spend some time every day moving, writing, reading, and connecting. This includes working as a dancer, educator and organizer, proud and grateful to be a member of the Sadhana community.