Broken Round Dance

Broken Round Dance -click on image

A piece I did this week. In light of the hundreds of murdered and missing Aboriginal women in this country and recent news of a missing 58 year old woman from just down the road from here (sadly she was found dead two days later, no foul play suspected) I was thinking of “loss”. How it would feel to not know, to be continually searching and looking, for a loved one.

My son and I left Walmart the other day and paused in front of the posters of missing persons they hang in the entrance. Some were recent, some from as far back as the 1970’s. Faces of children, young women, a few men, all being missed by families and friends, that had vanished never to be seen again were staring at us.

Emma Fillipoff has been missing since Nov 28, 2012, vanishing from in front of the Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia, at the age of 26. Her mother resides nearby where I live. She is not someone I know personally, but I reflect often on what she is going through, even after all this time. Thankfully, I have no close relatives or friends who have vanished. Yet.

It sounds awful to say that but the odds are high that sooner or later it will hit closer to home. For a moment I tried to put myself in that position. What would it feel like to be missing someone?  I could not stay in that feeling too long because I look down to my chest and feel the empty hole. I feel it with my senses even before I touch my chest or look with my eyes. It’s hollow and cavernous. It feels like a huge chunk of my chest has been removed and it’s difficult to breathe.

I’m sure for those who are constantly ‘looking’ or ‘waiting’ for news it’s actually a lot worse. But that is as much as I can imagine. From this feeling came the artwork I posted above.

The ‘Round Dance’ has many meanings and several styles, depending on what Nation you come from. A few are mentioned here: http://www.cbc.ca/manitoba/scene/homepage-promo/2013/01/28/round-dance-revolution-drums-up-support-for-idle-no-more/

Or an alternative explanation:

http://www.native-drums.ca/index.php/Music/Social_Dance?tp=a&bg=1&ln=e

The Round Dance signifies a lot of things; the healing circle, the social gathering of community,  a ceremony or festival, and even a form of grieving or celebrating through dance. The spaces in between the dancers represent missing members of the community. The friends and family left ‘searching’ look whole, but if you look closely (their shadows) they have holes in their chests. The darker dancers, drawn differently than those in the foreground, are my interpretation of the physical hardship that families go through. The dwindling of spirit directly affecting ones body. The faint outline of a drum, the ‘heartbeat’ of many traditional dances is under their feet. Without those missing friends, family and loved ones, the dance is broken and like a ‘community’ being broken, will not function properly. Dancers will be out of step, the enclosure is vulnerable without everyone clasping hands (a sign of support/strength/love/kinship), and those that are there will be ‘un-whole’.