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What's this about?

For more information, please email:
dancedancerevolutionary[at]gmail.com

Dance Dance Revolutionary is an arts initiative that aims to share information about radical activism through fun, participatory activities. The project includes four platforms inspired by the lives of Angela Davis and Emma Goldman, two important figures in U.S. history:

1- screening of documentary videos with discussion
2- creative re-interpretations of popular songs
3- animation workshop for teen girls
4- customized dance rhythm computer game

Who are Angela and Emma?

Angela Davis is an activist and writer currently teaching at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The following is an excerpt from a bio on her university website: [It] was not until 1969 that she came to national attention after being removed from her teaching position in the Philosophy Department at UCLA as a result of her social activism and her membership in the Communist Party, USA. In 1970 she was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List on false charges, and was the subject of an intense police search that drove her underground and culminated in one of the most famous trials in recent U.S. history.

In 1885, Emma Goldman immigrated to the U.S. from Lithuania at the age of 16. The following is an excerpt from a bio on the digital archive site of her work, maintained by the University of California, Berkeley: An influential and well-known anarchist of her day, Goldman was an early advocate of free speech, birth control, women’s equality and independence, and union organization. Her criticism of mandatory conscription of young men into the military during World War I led to a two-year imprisonment, followed by her deportation in 1919. For the rest of her life until her death in 1940, she continued to participate in the social and political movements of her age, from the Russian Revolution to the Spanish Civil War.

Want to know more?
You may learn more by clicking on the links above and browsing the website. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

We hope you will have a chance to participate in one or more of these events, scheduled to take place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in June 2006. Below you will find more information about the inspiration for this project.


"If I can't dance I don't want to be in your revolution," said Emma Goldman (1869-1940), feminist heroine, anarchist activist, editor, writer, teacher, jailbird and general trouble-maker.

Or did she?
...

In fact, though the sentiment is indeed Emma Goldman's, one she frequently pronounced and acted upon, she wrote none of the above, notwithstanding that each of these versions and more has been attributed to her on buttons, posters, banners, T-shirts, bumper stickers, and in books and articles, for nearly twenty years. Here, rather, is what she did say, in her 1931 autobiography
Living My Life:

At the dances I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha [Alexander Berkman], a young boy, took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance. Certainly not with such reckless abandon, anyway. It was undignified for one who was on the way to become a force in the anarchist movement. My frivolity would only hurt the Cause. I grew furious at the impudent interference of the boy. I told him to mind his own business, I was tired of having the Cause constantly thrown into my face. I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from conventions and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy. I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to become a nun and that the movement should not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it. "I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everyboy's right to beautiful, radiant things." Anarchism meant that to me, and I would live it in spite of the whole world-- prisons, persecution, everything. Yes, even in spite of the condemnation of my own comrades I would live my beautiful ideal. [Living My Life (New York: Knopf, 1934), p. 56]
from "Dances with Feminists" by Alix Kates Shulman [Published in Women's Review of Books, Vol. IX, no. 3, December 1991.]

Although I learned about Emma Goldman many years ago, I only read her autobiography, Living my Life, for the first time last year. A few months later while re-reading Angela Davis's autobiography, I was struck by the connection between the convictions of two women who have been so inspiring to others through their fight for justice in the United States. Dance Dance Revolutionary is project about activist icons and the popular culture that surrounds resistance movements. There is an ascetic principle that Davis espouses in her autobiography, published at age 30. This contrasts with Goldman's work, which covers a much longer period and reveals a great deal of emotion. It is no secret that both women endeavored to balance work and pleasure under the scrutiny of their activity in social movements dominated by men.

In a time when t-shirts and other commodities decorated with the faces of militant activists are readily available in fashion chain-stores, how and what do Americans really know about the values and stories behind these figures? Rather than spurning this co-opted aesthetic, I hope to transform it into a catalyst for discussion about revolutionary ideals.

Ultimately, my goal is to share the work of these women with more people, and to infuse their stories with a spirit of celebration. This can't happen without your participation, so I hope to see you and hear from you! Thank you... Fereshteh Toosi, Frostburg, Maryland, USA

links to projects:
Dance Dance Revolutionaries
Faith, Beauty, Integrity

Radiant Things

Stay Free