STORIES / QRA

DANCE MAGIC DANCE

Artist + Ethereal Spirit, Rulan Tangen is a part of an inclusive movement that works to
re-Indigenize + Decolonize performance at every level

Video + Images captured by Olga Nazarova

In watching Rulan move I was deeply struck by the way she communicates with her body - that force and connection. Her dance feels so expressive anD lyrical. It was inspiring to pick a very unique set of looks for Rulan to move and express within. It's an honor to gift a body with comfort and inspiration.

"I think there is an energy that is inside me, that flows through all forms of life, that I connect with through movement." Rulan Tangen

RA: What is the source of your movement; how do you inform your movement?

RT: I don't think of it as my movement but I let the movement of life flow through me. I think there is an energy that is inside me , that flows through all forms of life, that I connect with through movement. Movements emerge from the sensation of my body from the inside out, balanced by response to the world around me , as well as by my imagination and intuition. So on that day in the beautiful high desert, I was reflecting twisted tree branches, feeling the softness of the fabric, engaging the flow of blood within the lushness of muscle spiralling against the strength of bone, grounding my feet into the dirt, taking shape of clouds , moving so the dresses could catch the wind and flutter , and flickering in and out of light and shadow..

RA: To communicate so deeply with your body there must be a dedicated practice or ritual that keeps you connected. What might that look like?

RT: Yes, I am a dancer, dance teacher, choreographer, dance filmmaker, and the founding Artistic Director of DANCING EARTH CREATIONS - so dance has been my whole life. The first half of my life my dance practices were very disciplined , the ritual of absolute commitment of cultivation of the fullest capacity of movement - from subtle to expansive - of every part of my body, as a way of knowing, understanding, and being in the world. Later I challenged myself to release from form, to discover more improvisationally , more responsive to whats is around me, becoming fully present. My life has emerged and evolved a few practices such as 'land dance' and 'ecological dance' that are related as eco-somatic and creative forms , that seem deceptively simple because I want them to feel like they are happening naturally and organically for each mover. Yet to be able to be in that state of empathetic listening, observing, unituiting, imagining , connecting to the diverse sensuality of emanations of life force - there are a thousand tiny practices to get there - to enhance the multi-sensory multi -dimensional experience and expression. 

RA: Please tell me about the relationship you have with your hair. I see you dancing together and it feels like a stunning romance

RT: I think that being creative in the moment often is very practical - working with what you have. My hair was loose for this shoot and this wind was moving it so I collaborated with the hair in the same way I was experiencing the clothing and the land and the sky, letting it all move together , letting it move me . There was a time in my life where all my hair fell out due to severe illness, and I lost most of my muscle , and much of my skin of my left face and neck was burned also ; when you have had these things and lost them, you really have gratitude if you ever get a chance to experience them again. Maybe we can all do more of that - appreciate and celebrate what we have , with joyous words, thoughts, sounds, movements , energy ...

RA: What does community building through movement and performance look like to you?

RT: I love how communities emerge from doing things together : whether thats farming , or painting a mural, playing in a band, or dancing. As people become interested in learning more about their cultural roots, I also want to acknowledge that we have ancestral lineages that are important, and we also have our mutually chosen communities made from our life experiences.

In the creation of Dancing Earth , it involved bringing dreams to life in earthly form, which can be called choreography, and requires the involvement of other beings, other bodies . Not only as instruments of a vision, but as fully human collaborators. So there is always a gathering, that leads to another gathering , that involves existing communities, and weaves diverse people into becoming community, because what they experience together, for just that moment , or across lifetimes .

It can start with a workshop in a school where I see a young person with vibrant spark for movement, then inviting them to a summer institute, where they meet others like them. And we all grow together, making dances and music and costumes and stories and meals . These evolve into performances, which gather more people into the experience. And some of those audience witnesses then become students , or donate vegetables from their garden, or host a dancer in their home, or help build the props , or gather the plants to dye the repurposed T shirts which become costumes , or share stories that become the next dance.

So people become a creative community that morphs and shifts and changes shape and scale , in overlapping strands of connection, that are as strong and as delicate as a spiderweb, as brilliant as constellations in the night sky, as intertwined as roots. Community of movement looks to me like all the human and ecosystemic diversity - it feels like the cosmos !

Rulan Tangen
'Captured in Taos by Olga Nazarova
Wearing SS21

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