What can movement articulate that words can’t? On Monday, dancers Ezra Hurwitz and Robbie Fairchild — in partnership with Everytown for Gun Safety and National Dance Institute (NDI) — released a politically pointed dance video titled “Enough!,” which aims to bring awareness to gun safety and to encourage young people to vote in the midterm elections.
The video takes inspiration from the March for Our Lives movement that followed the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where a man armed with an AR-15 shot and killed 14 students and three faculty members, while wounding 14 others at the school.
“Both of us are really passionate, specifically, about gun reform and impassioned by the youth-led movement following the Parkland shooting,” said Hurwitz during a phone conversation with ALL ARTS last week. “And we felt that we could at least reach out to our community and try to inspire our community. And we both felt really strongly about dance being the vehicle for this.”
Set to Sia’s “I’m Still Here,” the piece was choreographed by James Alsop, who is perhaps most well-known for her pieces created for Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez, and features more than 130 NDI dancers, ranging in age from 7-17. Thematically, the project fits in with the NDI in-school curriculum, “Voices of Change,” which is focused on “empowering young people to speak up and make a difference.”
“There are dancers as young as seven in the piece. And these kids are amazing, and they really are leaning on dance and movement to empower them toward expression,” said Hurwitz. “And we thought it would be a really great outlet for them to contribute to this conversation.”
The narrative of the video centers on the fallout of gun violence in a school, portrayed symbolically by a popped orange balloon. But while the content addressed within the video is grim (portrayed most poignantly through silence and absence rather than gore and violence), the tone of the message is one of hope.
“Working with children and working with this sensitive topic, we wanted to make sure this was not a manipulative piece,” said Hurwitz. “We wanted to celebrate life and these children and the ability for children to be children and free and not harboring normalized trauma about gun violence’s prevalence in their world.”
This goal comes together in the end of the video, which features kids uniting to spell out “enough” on a football field.
“The end of the film, for me, is definitely the world I want to live in,” said Hurwitz. “We really wanted this to be something that everybody could enjoy and walk away from feeling empowered and enthused as opposed to downtrodden.”
Top Image: Behind the scene photo of National Dance Institute students during the filming of "Enough!" Credit: Nathan Kraxberger.