Amy Miller, Nana Chinara and Samara Gaev on "Cracks of Light" At Gibney Dance

Amy Miller, Nana Chinara and Samara Gaev on "Cracks of Light" At Gibney Dance
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Published on October 10, 2018
Copyright Gina Gibney Dance Inc. Photo by Scott Shaw.

Sanctuary for Families Observes Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October 12-13, 2018

Cracks of Light at The Theater at Gibney 280 Broadway
Co-presented by Sanctuary for Families
October 11-13, 2018 @ 8pm; Move Beyond Violence is a one-night-only benefit performance on October 11 @ 6:30pm.
Tickets: $15 – $20
More info:

Co-presented by Gibney Community Action’s first partner, Sanctuary for Families, "Cracks of Light" is part of Gibney’s annual observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In this series of performance works created during the journey from struggle to survival, Gibney bears witness to survivors of intimate partner and gender-based violence. By bringing forward stories once held in silence, this series continues to give voice to the power of art and community.

This year, "Cracks of Light" will feature a new work created by a group of Survivor Leaders from Sanctuary for Families and is facilitated by Amy Miller, Senior Company Director of Gibney Dance Company. The moving performance draws upon the Survivor Leaders’ stories of rebuilding their lives as a way to raise awareness of intimate partner violence. The program will also present performances by Nana Chinara and Truthworker Theatre Company, a hip-hop theatre company founded and directed by Samara Gaev, for high school and college-aged youth. Truthworker raises awareness and catalyzes action for racial, gender, and economic justice.

Amy Miller, Senior Director of Gibney Dance Company © Gibney.

Sammi Lim for The Dance Enthusiast: How long has Gibney been observing Domestic Violence Awareness Month?

Amy Miller, Senior Director of Gibney Dance Company: Gibney has been raising awareness and curating events around Domestic Violence Awareness Month since 2012. One of the highlights in "Cracks of Light" is a new work created by Survivor Leaders from Sanctuary for Families.

What is the role of a Survivor Leader?

A. Miller: Throughout Gibney's 20-year partnership with Sanctuary for Families, we have offered ongoing movement workshops with survivors of intimate partner violence at shelters throughout the city. Dance is used as a tool for self-reflection, expression, and collaboration. Survivor Leaders emerge as advocates who raise awareness about this issue through public discussions, performances and speaking engagements, while also mentoring other survivors along their journeys.

Does the performance on the evening of October 11th lean towards the abstract or the literal?

A. Miller: The performance is a weaving together of audio interviews and movement responses from each Survivor Leader with regards to where they come from, how transformation feels to them, their wishes for the world, and how they hope to move forward. 

Photo copyright of Truthworker Theatre Company / Samara Gaev.

Hi, Samara. What is Truthworker Theatre Company’s core mission?

Samara Gaev, Founder & Director of Truthworker Theatre Company: Truthworker Theatre Company is a social justice-based, hip-hop theatre company founded in Brooklyn, NY. Young visionaries directly impacted by mass incarceration write and perform original productions that interrogate the prison industrial complex, challenge systems of oppression, invite healing dialogue, and foster artistic interventions, inspiring solutions for collective liberation.

Truthworker’s deeply personal performances center redemption, forgiveness, and responsibility to humanize those most negatively impacted by systemically racist policies. Truthworker raises awareness and catalyzes action for racial, gender, and economic justice. Truthworker is a safe space for young people to be the subjects, not the objects, of their own stories as they unpack, problematize, and shift the dominant, often stereotypical narratives in mainstream media.

Who are some of your frequent collaborators?

S. Gaev: Climbing Poetree; JustLeadershipNYC; Wildseed Community Farm and Healing Village; Kites Nest Crew; Nsangou Njikam; Morley; Soul Fire Farm; and Prison Poster Project.

Nana Chinara, Aya Lane, Gaciru Matathia, and Shanée Smith in “Baptism: Black and Bald” © The Artists.

Hey, Nana. Tell me about the work you'll be presenting at "Cracks of Light."

Nana Chinara: She Looks at You recounts the onset of violence through ancestor supported memory. Embodying haunting repetition and a wailing voice, this piece is an exploration of violence on a Black queer femme body. It challenges the audience’s notion of witnessing without experiencing. 

Have you choreographed for high school and college youth prior, or was this an initiation?

N. Chinara: Being an educator at Day One has given me access to language that I had not been using. My role validates my experiences as a survivor and invites me to take a more restorative approach to my work.

Photo credit: Gibney Dance.

Quotes by the Survivor Leaders for the advocacy piece Transformation of Powerful Souls:


"This is not a sprint, it's a long distance run. You have to pace yourself, take breaths and have a plan. Then save some air for that last five seconds — it's not a sprint."
— Carmen

"You first have to accept. You accept what it is to move on. Accept that it might be difficult because you are accepting the truth — that you have lost everything and how do I move on from here? You've been pulled to north to the south to the east to west trying to break free, but breaking free begins in the mind. So as you allow your mind to explore, you break free of the chains that bind. We are no longer victims. We are victims in our minds if we keep holding onto that. That's where the chain breaks. We are survivors. We have survived. We are living. We are in the now. We are present. We are love."
— Ava

"Make peace with the past. Once you do that you allow yourself to go somewhere else that you'd never think of. If you keep going back you are not going to move forward. So accept the the present and make peace with the past."  
— Fatima

"When you break the chains you are no longer tied down, you're able to be free. You're able to be who you are. Don't fall into this — what to kind of look out for. Break those chains of silence. . . breaking the cycle."
— Sandra

"We had an opportunity to share in a collective way our painful processes and talk about things that are relevant to each of us. The experience of sharing the pain together — it becomes something different. It helps us move further away on the other side of the pain which is essentially the healing process." 
— Monica 

"I'm so grateful that the women of DV and so are the men and transgender folks, that there's a face for them. I'm happy to see that there is an open door for them. I wish for the world, that men would respect women more and that women would respect and love themselves more."  

— Moreno 

"Finding your voice through movement if you aren't really comfortable with the words, once you experience that, you can't pretend like you don't know it. The gig is up. You can't go back, at least I couldn't go back, to the way I was."

— Phyllistine

"Now I feel my life is mine. I can do anything I want. I can say anything." 
— Maria 

"Transformation is change
Helping to rearrange
That which isn't right
So stand up and fight
For the ones without a voice
Giving them a choice
Helping to break the chains
So that what remains
Is strength, love and support
To give each other guidance and comfort"
— Joan

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