Body Watani is a movement practice that manifests as a choreographic practice in dance making, a framework for collaborative film making, and workshops created and offered by Leilawa (Leila Awadallah). Leilawa began building this practice specifically for researching ancestral bodily memories within a charged spatial environment for everything from personal, to collaborative, to community based creativity. Like an archeologist who digs in search of artifacts from the past, Body Watani uses durational improvisation as a means of digging up memories from the body’s own past by understanding the body as a dense historical archive. 

One of the main elements of Body Watani is that 'home' lives inside us; ‘watani’ meaning homeland in Arabic. Instead of home being represented by a geographic location or structure, Body Watani imagines home as memories of land / location / structures as engraved inside our bodies. When dancing within a ‘body as homeland’ framework, one enters a movement investigation centered around a physical, visceral engagement with land and inherited identity. 

Leilawa offers Body Watani as a path (of many paths) towards finding material rooted in both personal and ancestral memories rather than creating from a specific movement technique. It utilizes improvisation, oral and historical accounts, and ancestral research as necessary tools for finding the movement that becomes choreography.


It all started when…

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