Making Space Week

Dance & Dare essay

© William van der Voort


I will take you on a walk through an ordinary neighbourhood,
on an ordinary, but sunny day in October.
You only have to close your eyes.
Please, close your eyes.

You will walk through a neighbourhood that you already know.
You will recognize the houses, the apartments.
You will recognize the people.

You will walk through the neighbourhood that you already know.
You will hear the familiar sounds of barking dogs,
the laughter of people on the streets.
You will see a woman with garbage.
You will smell the familiar scent of wet grass.
It is all familiar for you.
You have heard, seen and smelled it all before.

But today there is something different.
You don’t know what it is.
But you do know something is different.

You will cross a narrow path, stand still and look to the right.
You will see a group of people moving through the narrow path.
They move from wall to fence.
From one side of the path to the other and back.
Like the group is one.
Not like the wind, more like the walls are pushing and pulling,
moving the group.

You will feel the space around you.
You are not a group.
You are alone.
You have space around you.

You will continue walking.
After a while you will enter a habitat.
You will see a group of young women playing in the grass.
You will hear them giggling.
They wave with twigs.
They run after each other.
They are playing.
They notice you.

You will cross paths with a young man.
He is wearing a red tracksuit.
He walks like he owns the playfield.
They all walk like they own the playfield.
They have their eyes on each other,
but they have their eyes on you as well.
You are in their habitat.
Or, are they in yours?

You will wonder why you keep looking at them.
You are not a spectator.
You don’t expect a thing.
You are not an audience.
You are just a passer-by.

You will continue walking through this ordinary neighbourhood.
You will see an old man with a stick.
You will observe him, like a spectator.
The way he walks.
The way his back is curved.
The way he waves to a woman passing by.

You will see two young woman on a seesaw.
They are not seesawing.
They are balancing, lying flat on their backs.

You will continue walking through this ordinary neighbourhood.

You will hear the clapping of mailboxes,
the rhythm of the footsteps of people walking by,
the crackling noises from the streetworkers,
the rattle of a bunch of keys.

You will see a young woman falling into a bush,
while another woman grabs her hand and pulls the young woman out of the bush.
You will see a postmen,
a group of people in tracksuits discussing,
two little girls on little bikes following each other,
a woman lifting up a woman,
girls jumping on a bike,
men smoking cigarettes,
a group of people moving to each other,
but not clashing into each other, on a parking lot.

You will continue walking through this ordinary neighbourhood.
But you realize this neighbourhood isn’t as ordinary as you thought it was.
Your eyes are more open.
Your eyes are opened by a group of people in tracksuits.

I will invite you to open your eyes.
Please, open your eyes and take a real walk through a neighbourhood.
It’s like a dance.

Essay from writer Saskia de Haas on Making Space Week 2018. Saskia was one of the participants in Writing Course Dance & Dare, a project for creative writers who dare to seek new words for dance, by Domain for Art Criticism & DansBrabant (Sept. 2017 – Jan. 2018). The Making Space Week is a annual project by DansBrabant and Fontys Dance Academy on dance in public space, within the scope of Tilburg Dansstad.