Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: Dance Piece Confronts Audiences With Acts of Resistance

Inspired by the death of George Floyd, One Hundred More finds two racialized women dealing with both history and personal experience.

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Justine A. Chambers and Laurie Young do not leave the front of the stage for the duration of their dance show One Hundred More, presented at Agora de la danse from Wednesday to Saturday. Nor do they turn their backs on the public. They raised their hands (inspired by the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture) at the start of the show, and – although they moved their arms in different ways throughout – never lowered them. They don’t completely dim the house lights. And they don’t look away from the crowd.

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“The play demands a lot from Justine and me, but it demands a lot from the audience,” Young said of the show, which they performed in Vancouver last week and will next perform in Ottawa. One Hundred More centers on the theme of resistance from the perspective of two racialized women confronting both history and personal experience.

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“Viewers are always active participants. (We want it to be) clear that they are witnesses to what is happening: the lights are upon you, seeing us as we see you.

Young, who is from Ottawa but has lived in Berlin for more than 20 years, hopes that audiences and artists can “fight together, be together in space, and that there will be real recognition, recognition that we are together for these 55 minutes.

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For Chambers, who lives in Vancouver, claiming center stage is a way of saying, “Isn’t it our turn?” It’s also a statement about the dancers who don’t turn their backs on the room, or about the harsh realities addressed in the show.

“(We wanted) to refuse to fade away, from the tension or irregularity of the moment,” she said. “My mother always told me, ‘Don’t turn your back on the door.’ So it’s part of a social choreography of the ways my mother taught me to be in public. We also want (the show) to be relentless, we want to stay with it and stay with you… not to become objects of art, and so it’s not history repeating itself but something happening in front of you. If we have to see each other, we can be in a “now” relationship. ”

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Inspired by the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, and informed by the evolving socio-political realities of the pandemic, the collaboration integrates familiar, even iconic gestures of resistance with the dancers’ more personal, conscious and unconscious gestures. -submission.

The show’s title refers to “the endless amount of opportunity we have, must and continue to resist,” Chambers said.

“After that moment of George Floyd, all of us black people fell apart for the last time, or the thousandth time. And for Laurie, this extreme resurgence of anti-Asian sentiment (during the pandemic) – it was never there, but wow, did it ever turn into something so violent. So there’s a reorientation that’s been happening right now, for me. It may be the excitement of potential change, but also the disappointment that nothing really changes.

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Laurie Young, left, and Justine A. Chambers raised their hands at the start of One Hundred More, and never lowered them.
Laurie Young, left, and Justine A. Chambers raised their hands at the start of One Hundred More, and never lowered them. Photo by Gianmarco Bresadola /RuGicomm

Performance is not so much about denouncing injustice as about finding a personal and community space to exist and express oneself in the face of it. Young was hesitant to state a mission statement for the show, but was more comfortable talking about how it felt to perform the piece.

“There’s just a deep solidarity and friendship with Justine, a kinship,” she said. “I feel immense joy and immense sadness, and everything in between. It’s a weird trip to be super present, there in space with the audience.

“I also think the rage and the fear come through,” Chambers said.

“Oh yeah, lots of rage,” Young agreed.

“I’m doing an MFA right now,” Chambers continued. “Last night I was listening to (American gender theorist) Judith Butler talk about how rage is grief, and this idea that if we can get away from rage, we can be in grief. And if we can allow grief not to be a burden, a kind of productive meaning can occur in a relationship.This process of rage turning into grief, then into love and joy, is a journey that takes place in the series.


Hundred more is presented from Wednesday, October 19 to Saturday, October 22 at the Agora de la danse, at the Wilder pavilion, 1435, rue Bleury. Hours: Wednesday to Friday 7 p.m.; Saturday 4 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit agoradanse.com.

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