This is a personal account of dancing on Hydra written during R.I.C.E. on Hydra, a gathering of artists dedicated to the “choreography of humans.” One of the Freedom Dances, as so shamelessly proposed by Jeffrey Gormly*.


Photo by Michael Kliën


I was dancing. Claiming, proclaiming freedom in movement on a rooftop high above the beach of Kamini. I was dancing in myself, and from there extending simultaneously in all directions. The ad-hoc ceremony I found myself immersed in, was, to my surprise neither ecstasy nor liberation, but one of utter lamentation. A silent cry of the mind; a futile attempt to cling to a movement that could offer salvation, even sanity:

of unfolding maps…Some pattern within my own movement must be found to maintain hope – that affirms my belonging to a collective history as inscribed in my body. Something must be relevant, meaningful – an established pattern of thought, one to lead me, to guide. I dance. I dance. I dance.

of concentric circles of doing …Not one set of body relations can I trust, not the position of the head, the rolling of the ribs, or the mirroring of one part of another. I only find sanctuary in movement that hasn’t yet sedimented in me, that is not preaching its dominance and extending its rule into the solid surface of this brutalized civilization. Endlessly carrying its wounds through time, unable to show its shameful body, facing forward, ever forward, denying its people a life unfolding. Joseph’s wounds on display.

of shedding the armour of social coherence…The stars are out. Dancing under the open sky makes a felt difference. It moves itself differently. And these age-old sediments no longer stick to my bones, but melt in my blood. The cultured flesh is now disobediently listening to fish, to water, to dirt, to mud, to mucus, to air, to ancestry, to mythologies that bind us, to longer waves. Beautifully, unbearably. So. I dance. I dance for my political refuge: I shall organize my own salvation. I shall let go of this charged world and entrust myself to spirits. To be dancing is to affirm the unknown and establish the sacred. The dance is to reaffirm the known by outlining the sacred. One needs to be dancing to birth the dance. The stars. The night. Some lights. The loss of the world. Freedom Dance.

*thanks Jeff


Photo by Michael Kliën

Michael Kliën is a leading voice in contemporary choreography. His artistic practice encompasses interdisciplinary thinking, critical writing, curatorial projects, and centrally, choreographic works equally at home in the Performing as well as the Fine Arts.

Kliën’s choreographies have been performed and situated in many countries across the world. Commissions include Ballett Frankfurt, ZKM (Karlsruhe), Tanzquartier Wien and the Vienna Volksoper; exhibitions include IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) and Hayward Gallery, London. During his work at Ballett Frankfurt, Kliën also acted as artistic consultant to William Forsythe. He received a PhD from the Edinburgh College of Art in 2009 and, as a committed teacher, has been lecturing about his findings at numerous distinguished academic and non-academic institutions. He has been co-founder and Artistic Director of the London based arts group Barriedale Operahouse (1994–2000) and Artistic Director/CEO of Daghdha Dance Company (2003–2011). Based in Greece and Ireland, he is currently working as an independent artist.

Come see Michael speak at Is Dance the Art Form of the 21st Century?, A Conversation with Michael Kliën and Steve Valk, Nov. 11, at 7pm, hosted by Martha Graham Dance Company

Read his 2012 essay Propositions: To Dance Differently here.


  1. Sarah M says:

    “To be dancing is to affirm the unknown and establish the sacred. The dance is to reaffirm the known by outlining the sacred. One needs to be dancing to birth the dance.” I love this statement and the focus on both re-exploring old movement and pioneering new movement in order to move forwards and fully immerse oneself in the experience of dance. As a student studying dance, this concept really resonates with the topic of confidence that we discuss often in class. We need to have the same confidence while branching out that we do practicing the familiar. In this case, dance is being used as a political refuge. One can bring that concept into the classroom by focusing on the spirit embodied in the article of seeking refuge in dance, old and new.

  2. Bailey LePage says:

    This is beautiful.

  3. Caroline Caffrey says:

    This is a beautiful way of describing dance. I have never thought of the moments of sheer freedom gained dancing in places like that

  4. Caroline Caffrey says:

    This is an amazing way of thinking about dance and how freeing in can be in the right situation

  5. Pingback: SEDIMENTS OF AN ORDINARY MIND | Culturebot
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