The idea of oral history in dance was really intriguing and after my presentation I decided to write my first essay about it. Essentially there are not many examples of oral history being used in dance but with a wider perspective of research I think that it will be an interesting topic to look into. Undoubtedly the most challenging aspect of the essay is to find a way to combine oral history and public history within this specialized field that is dance. This is the part which, while it definitely troubles me the most, it makes me think that it is not that peculiar because dance is a performance towards a specific audience; therefore the public is always there and the challenge is to succeed in engaging with it further than the performance of the dance itself.
As I previously stated there are not many examples of oral history in dance -however this is not the case in theatre. The main example I will look into is Jeff Friedman’s ‘muscle memory’ project, in which he choreographed the testimonies of two dancers and the result was brilliant. Another example is the ‘Dance Oral History Project’ of New York’s Public Library which collects testimonies from people that dedicated their life and work to dance. I will look into more examples and I hope that in the future dance will be a more researched oral history topic; there are definitely interesting aspects to it so that oral history could engage more actively with it!
In general my prime hope is to conduct an effective and interesting interview: I am deeply focused on planning my questions the best way I can so I could get valuable information and intriguing replies.
Of course this is something that all of us are hoping; am I hoping something more specific? Actually yes. I want to know how it feels like being an immigrant in this metropolitan hub which is called London; Andreas –my interviewee– will have a pretty clear idea on that as he is living here for quite a lot now. However it seems that he has limited choices. I am an immigrant myself but I still have the option to go back whereas Andreas could not do that; the war in Syria is surely an obstacle he would not be able to tackle easily. Therefore I am hoping to really understand how he feels like and whether he is used to his life in London; has this city eventually became a ‘home’ to him?
To tell the truth I am going to this interview with no other feelings or hopes than excitement: I want to be flexible and be able to improvise. I want to learn about his life but at the same time I want him to tell me himself and let the whole process go on effortlessly and flawlessly. This is a hope but it is also a concern: will I be able to have some sort of control of the interview but let it develop loosely at the same time? I do not want to make Andreas feel like I am waiting for particular answers: I just want to see the world through his eyes for a couple of hours. I want to know about his experience.
Finally I have two basic concerns: is the language going to be a barrier? I am going to interview him in Greek and that makes both of us feel comfortable but will it be easy to ‘transform’ the meaning of what he will have said to me to English? It is not only about translation, it is about interpretation as well… So I still think about that. Also I already planned the interview with Andreas during the second week of March and of course this is something that can be rescheduled but I am troubled: do I need more time to reflect on what he will have said to me so I could plan one more session? Apparently you never really know what is going to happen and it is hard to be aware of the quality of the material you will end up with. I am hoping it will be something of great value and that it will satisfy both of us!
I kept thinking how I can put my interview into some kind of context. I am still struggling with this problem; however I realized that the topic of immigration is the most prominent one.
I am going to interview a man who is working here in London as a doctor. He was born in Syria and at some point he came to Greece. Interestingly enough, he is an Orthodox Christian, as most Greeks are; essentially the topic of religion ties up perfectly with immigration in this case. And because of his faith he found himself into some kind of church’s boarding house back in Athens; my godmother works there voluntarily and that is how I came to know him. However, I do not know anything more about him.
Andreas speaks Greek fluently so I am going to interview him in Greek. Since we both are immigrants in London, which is a huge metropolitan city, it would be interesting to speak about life in London. I want to know how he copes with the fact that he cannot go back to Syria because of the ongoing war and how his nationality influences his whole life here in London. Actually I would like to know how he approaches the whole subject of this mixture of religions and conflicting identities (Syrian, Greek and British alike). I think that we will have a very interesting discussion about racism as well.
Everything will be set under the vast umbrella-term of ‘immigration’. But most importantly, my interview will be a life story of a man who is not ‘old’ –actually he just married a woman from Egypt– but has already a very interesting background and surely some rich experiences and memories.