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Word Becomes Flesh 2011. Photo by Jati Lindsay/Hip-Hop Theater Festival^1 Life is Living Oakland 2009. Photo by Bethanie Hines.^1 Life is Living Oakland 2009. Photo by Bethanie Hines.^1 Life is Living Chicago 2009. Photo by Bethanie Hines.^1 Life is Living Chicago 2009. Photo by Bethanie Hines.^1 Life is Living Chicago 2009. Photo by Bethanie Hines.^1 Word Becomes Flesh 2011. Photo by Jati Lindsay/Hip Hop Theater Festival^1

Marc Bamuthi Joseph and /peh-LO-tah/

The two places on earth I actually feel free aren’t coordinates, they’re moments.  The first is inside of dance, somewhere between rising up against gravity and a sensation that the air beneath my body is falling in love with its weight… carrying me so that I might never come down.  The second place is after scoring a goal on the soccer pitch, wherein my body floods with the chemical they bottle up in epi-pens to revive the dead… I am weightless… raceless…

Over time, as my questions have deepened and grown more emotionally charged, I’ve charted a path of inquiry that connects macro issues of economy to personal confrontations with my own body as a positioned figure in both the language of sport and art.  This path is taking me to South Africa, Brazil, soccer capitals across Europe, local leagues across the U.S.; moving forward on a hypothesis that links local and global economic hierarchies to behaviors, allegiances, and government investment in the infrastructure of the world’s game.  My plan is to draw concurrent narrative maps through this research leading to writing and dramaturgy of a new work.

/peh-LO-tah/ explores the ecology of egalitarianism played out inside the world’s game.  It is a story of my body in its late summer years; the physics of a globally networked economy running in tandem with the fragile network of a dancer’s anatomy.  It is a bet that visible bodies and dramatized shadows, as conjured by artist Christine Marie, can co-exist as complementary modes of narration; that sweat will have as much currency as silhouette to transition both narrative point of view and visual dimension.  For my company of collaborators, it is a structural experiment: physically demanding, visually deft, viscerally reaching, and linguistically twisted in hip hop and hope.

Ultimately, I’m intrigued by the elusive riddle of equality, and am fascinated by the curiosity that soccer is the only thing the entire planet can agree to do together.  It is the official sport of this spinning ball.  My inquiry involves the joy of the game against the complexity of the global south sites of the last two World Cups.  It acknowledges that all conversations tied to ecology are ALSO tied to democracy and economy.  The work is sprung from the bliss of a goal scorer’s run, it shares what his countrymen do after the ball beats the goalie, the closest thing going to freedom…

-  Marc Bamuthi Joseph