The Strength of Bodies Through the Relationship and Rationale of Protesting.

It is easy to overlook the power of bodies during daily life, but when there is merely seemingly violence and emotional expression especially anger and devastation, the bodies can be seen as a threatening and powerful tool to the people in charge. The bodies with a purpose can be the bodies in protest. However, as Susan Leigh Forster suggests in the essay Choreographies of Protest, the reason why bodies in protest are seen as violence is usually both because of dismissing “the body, either by conceptualizing protest as a practice that erupts out of a bodily anger over which there is no control, or by envisioning it as a practice that uses the body only as an efficacious instrument that can assist in maximizing efficiency.”1 In this essay, I will explore the rationale behind this stereotypical and injustice scenario, and the relationship between the innocent bodies and the authority.

Firstly, I want to share a personal experience as being a body in protest. During high school graduation ceremony, there would be singing and band showcase as a tradition in the auditorium. Me and my friends were willing to perform a choreographed contemporary dance piece on stage to say farewell to our high school memories. We would always perform more hip-hop and more expressive dance styles during New Year celebration. This performance for graduation was intended to be more gentle, emotional, and memorial. However, the headmaster immediately rejected our application, and said no dancing is allowed. During the intensive negotiation, she even denied the fact that dance is an artform comparing to singing. She claims that singing is a tradition in ceremony and the ceremony is supposed to be legit and divine. The song other students perform was Zootopia, which is a cheerful pop music. Thus, failing to negotiate, we decided to perform outdoor as a pop-up show after the ceremony was over. During the show, those bodies were not only dancing bodies, but bodies in protest, for fair and justice. So, why was the dance performance prohibited? What is her rationale behind? What was she prohibiting? How powerful and explicit can the body be?

As Susan mentioned in her text, it is important to think about “what are these bodies doing?; what and how do their motions signify?” For example, during the ongoing silence protest 'I can't breathe' that took place in several cities, “protesters around the world have taken to the streets following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.”2 With no violence of any sorts, silence, and being relatively still, this 8 minutes and 46 seconds of peaceful body movement is under humorous and intensive police forces. The authority was holding weapons, standing straight with tension and close monitor to the group. It is such a ridiculous contrast between the supervisors in charge from above and the protestors on the floor. There were no physical conflicts, harmful activities, nor intended violence happen. It is rather a symbolic, poetic, and justice act which can be considered as a memorial and protest for the innocent death. So, why is the authority threatened? What are they afraid of? What are they threatened by?

There is so much involved with a physical body. Body language can convey strength greater than words alone. Sexuality, explicitly, expressive energy, dynamic language spoken by the body. Movement can be intimating sometimes, it can be labor, it can be a sexual object, but a protesting body is the body for hope of justice. Perhaps the dance we did in pervious events were seen and considered as sexual and aggressive. And the authority was scared to see similar content of the body moving during graduation. Perhaps the polices were trying to deny their murder and trying to be the most authorized and ideal power in charge as they advertised themselves to the public. The domination were afraid of being disqualified and discredit in front of the society.

[1]Susan Leigh Foster, “Choreographies of Protest,” Theatre Journal 55, no. 3 (2003): pp. 395-412,, 396.

[2]Lindsey Wasson/Reuters, “'I Can't Breathe': Hundreds Lie down in Protest,” CNN (Cable News Network, June 4, 2020),