In our group, we decided to focus our parade on the issue of immigration. We choose immigration because it is an issue of grand importance, especially in the United States. Although there is much debate on whether immigration should be accepted or not, we all believed that we would support immigration to better tell the story of the hardships which immigrants must go through. Immigration is a broad topic, but we decided to base our dance moves on the struggles and success which some immigrants go through. We tried to incorporate immigrant aspects to our entire performance. We originally wanted to have our performance at a historical place which had valuable meaning to tie in with immigrants. The place we wanted to use as our stage was MacArthur Park. We wanted to perform at this place because of the events which happened there May 1, 2007, a rally calling for U.S citizenship for immigrants. Then we found out that we were to perform on campus.
Our costumes consisted of white shirts which represented freedom, and peace. Something which immigrants long for. I think it was a good idea to have a common costume, because that way no one is better than anyone, it creates a common ground. Then there were our props, which consisted most importantly of our colorful streamers. We each had one set of streamers for each hand. The streamers represented the beauty of life, and the happiness with which freedom comes. Then we also had such rhythmic instruments as a block of wood and whistles. These assisted us in creating a source which would bring attention to our cause, people react to noise, and since our group only consisted of a small number of people, we needed the assistance of other sources of noise. We also chanted the phrase, “Immigrants united for justice.”
I believe our dance moves consisted of specific meanings which relate to immigration. For example in our introduction in which we all stood in a circle stomping our feet represented the unity which is needed when attempting to do anything in this case, going into a new land. Then there were such dance steps which very straight-forward like crossing the border. We wanted it to be very clear that some of us which were in a line, representing patience, but at the same time worry and cautiousness while approaching the border. Some of us in our performance were easily able to cross the border, while others had difficulty crossing. The most important part about this scene was that when a person was refused entry, they were consistent and attempted crossing again, until successful. This scene was our most important scene, we wanted this scene to be the most apparent and most meaningful scene from our parade. Then there was a scene in our performance in which we are moving from side to side in a circle, and then let go of our locked arms and then jump back. This scene signifies the ups and downs after crossing the border. It is not a celebration right after one crosses the border, it is only the beginning to a new journey in which one could either prosper, or fail at reaching their goals. After the swaying from side to side, the jump and landing on our feet represents the renewal to balance in our lives. After this is when we pull out our streamers which represent the beauty that life brings, along with happiness that life in a new land might be an improvement. Our exit which incorporated Iemanja’s motions represented our struggle to get money after being in a new land.
I think that our performance should have been longer, I felt that we were to caught up in trying to incorporate meaning into every step that we did not elongate the performance to a reasonable length. I also believe that instead of just attributing our performance to immigration rights, we should have made it into a story instead of having general characteristics to immigration issues. This way our performance could have had much more of an impact on our audience.
One of the things that I learned from our performance was that reading about dance movements and acting them out are two completely different things. While reading about such dances as samba, it is not easy to picture the dance moves, but when we would act these dances out, the movements came to life. Another thing which I learned is that I am not afraid to dance things which I have never attempted to dance, but I also realized that not everyone is so open to new forms of dancing, because even in class some people would not step out of their comfort zones. I’ve learned that dancing is something which makes me very happy. Even if I have no idea about whether I am doing a certain step right or wrong, the fact that I am attempting to be part of an art form is very exciting. I also realized from this experience that I love being able to teach people things, for example a few samba moves which stuck to me, I taught to my group, and the feeling that I was needed was a very good feeling that I doubt I will forget.