The thing is the ritual is the form is the faith is the art.

When I asked a musician to get involved in the Shaker piece she said she was a non-believer and the faith-based part of the work was not something she could do.  I realized that she was referencing me mentioning exploring faith in art and ritual. She thought I was talking about that white Christian God kind of faith. I’m an atheist. My faith has nothing to do with God god, or god as it may take different forms for different people, whatever you want to call it.  Faith as I have come to understand it, is self plus work. Faith is the labor of ritual. In that, faith is surrender, faith is trust and faith is all in. I’ll throw this out there, you don’t have to have faith in anything other than faith itself.  Faith, well, faith is faith. And I’ll throw this out there too that faith lives inside a form.  Faith is grown and sharpened by practice and true honest-to-goddess ritual that take one specific form.  Wait, this sounds like church. But this church doesn’t have any meanings or pre-concepts other than what I put inside it.  My church, and Weena and Eleanor might disagree with me here, has no god however expressed at all. This is a place for us and made by only us, to climb into and just do the thing. And the ritual/thing is a combination of four simple acts: doing authentic movement, making new dances daily, talking and eating lunch together. But inside this ritual/form can be an ocean of shifting moods, thoughts, movements, ways of relating, and changing states of being.  Sometimes it’s flat, empty, dull and shitty, but you have to do it even when you don’t want to, and even when you’re terrible, and don’t find any meaning or usefulness in it at all, for months or even for years maybe. It’s also that you get to do when it’s like the best thing ever, so in touch, so embodied, so blah blah blah. In both frames of doing, (and actually they are the same), deep, deep buried inside the ritual/thing that we do, faith can grow slowly, quietly and unannoucedly. (It reminds me of moss.)    Doubt is not the opposite of faith. Faith contains doubt, real doubt: I want to quit doubt, this is meaningless doubt, I’m going to be a landscape designer doubt. Because faith, through labor and ritual, is being held gently yet steadfastly now by two things: self and form. Faith was a concept that for me was rooted in hope/uncertainty and it felt wavering and out of my hands.  But then I surrendered to this thing that I do. I let the thing just be the thing that it is and not a prep for a show, not Sensai warrior training for choreographic battle, not therapy, not a means to an end. There is no end. There is only means. This might fail. It might prove me misguided and regretful. But without real faith it is nothing at all anyway. It’s a thing that we do, its rooted in faith, ritual and form and it is my art and art in and unto itself.

And this is the thing.

The 5 hours twice a week.

The for 5 years straight.

400 Authentic Movement sessions.

800 dances.


The undressing and putting on dance clothes.

The talking to each other.

The lying on the floor.

The stretching of the hamstrings.

The coming close to each other.

The eating breakfast.

The pulling out the notebook.

The saying a daily order of K’s,E’s,W’s.

The announcing the timing.

The setting the timers on the phones.

The first person pacing around the middle of the room.

The second two settling in against the walls.

The saying, “I’m starting!”

The group pressing of the start buttons on the iphones.

The first person shutting her eyes.

The starting.

The settling down.

The watchers watching.

The mover moving.

The mover or not moving.

The mover the body the thinking the feeling the listening.

The watchers the seeing the relaxng the caring the stillness.

The quietly checking the phone to see if it's time to go in if you’re next.

The going in.

The hearing the next person go in if you are moving.

The shutting of the eyes.

The moving.

The watching.

The third person checking the phone to see if it's time.

The being it's time to go in.

The going in.

The shutting the eyes.

The three of us with our eyes shut.

The not being watched.

The first alarm.

The leaving the moving to do the watching.

The second alarm.

The leaving the moving to do the watching.

The third alarm.

The everybody stopping.

The checking of phones and the sending of texts.

The taking a moment.

The coming closer again.

The pulling out the green notebook again to take a note or two.

The talking.

The talking.

The talking.

The eating and talking.

The eating.

The break.

The assigning the improvised action of the day.

The dance.

The coming closer for the last time.

The talking.

The changing out of dance clothes.

The packing up the bags.

The leaving the studio.

The leaving each other.

The end.


Katie Workum