"The Self vs. The Group" by Vanessa Butler
I saw a conflict between what the self needs and what the group needs. At first everyone started at their own pace, there was no rhythm in the foot falling, no bodily connection between selves, the only consistency was the direction in which the group was moving and the rate of movement. It was clearly a group of individuals instead of an individual group. There was a clear soft focus involving everyone, but no physical signifiers that they were melding into each other.
Then something rather beautiful and exciting happened in everyone almost simultaneously- a driving, almost desperate, need for change. The minute physical exhaustion set in, individual need was abandoned and there became an intense reliance on the others in the group for energetic support. In order for the self to persevere, sustain energy and "stay in line", the runners stopped listening to their own physical needs . Foot falls began to synchronize, pace became uniform as well as breath in some cases. In order to continue holding on to the action of sustained running the runners depended on each other to keep everyone together, strong and full of sustainable energy.
The stakes became higher because of this need, along with an urgent desire to stay with the group and maintain its structure. This change in physicality from the individual to the group reads as unification against a common cause - and an element of fear arises out of the unification i.e. what would be lost if the group were to fracture? Fear? perhaps, of abandonment? Fear of showing weakness? Fear of standing up, defying the rules of the game and saving everyone from discomfort, and being punished? Fear of what happens when the activity is broken? Fear of failure?
Immediate associations activated by "the self vs the group": a group state of duress, rebels before rebellion, desire to break out of systemic social regulations/ relationships, systems of social oppression, fight against marginalization, soldiers in war, chain gangs, prison systems, slavery, primal need of belonging with others, racing within socio-political structures....
About Vanessa Butler...
As a former professionally trained dancer Vanessa has been captivated by the budding Dance/Theater genre in the U.S. and is so excited to take part in the contriving and performing of physical theater pieces with Bated Breath Theatre company. Vanessa studied acting at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and recently graduated with her MFA. A Madison Wisconsin native, Vanessa Butler has been working in the CT theater scene for the last 2 years, thoroughly enjoying every moment. She is currently a working ensemble member of both Bated Breath Theater company and HartBeat Ensemble. She recently appeared in HartBeat's production of Workin' For A Livin' sponsored by CT Humanities where she played multiple roles. She's become a regular with the renowned theater company Playhouse On Park performing in roles such as Clara Hill in the premiere of Higgins in Harlem, Multiple roles in both 2012 and 2013's Theater Uncut festival such as Gemma in Capitalism in Crisis, Woman on a ledge in 250 Words, and Lou in Breakout. She is also one of four artists in residence with the Collective Conscious Theater company for the 2014-15 season. She performed the role of Sierra in CC Theater's new work production of Khalas, written by the phenomenal slam poet Jon Goode. Vanessa is a commissioned visual artist as well with a concentration on figure/portriat drawing and painting. She's always looking for new innovative ways to combine her love of all three art forms. She is forever grateful to her family for all their love and support, as well as the extremely talented and compassionate artists she's met and had the pleasure of working with here in CT. She looks forward to traveling the world in pursuit of her artistic dreams and breaking into the independent film industry.