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On Contentious Grounds

St. Mary's College of Maryland

On Contentious Grounds is a devised movement theater piece developed from interviews with Palestinian occupants of the West Bank about their experiences of movement in their daily lives and ancestral histories. How do borders shape bodies? Borders – in the form of walls, laws, guns, language, access to information, and rigidified memories.

The performance ensemble used dance, theater, and personal story to investigate intersections between daily life in Occupied Palestine and present-day issues relevant to our own lives. By alternating between the contested borders of Israel and Palestine and the students' own histories of contested borders, we create an intimate reckoning with the privileges and impossibilities of movement in our world. Performers created material from their experience that tackled racial profiling, incarceration in the family, cycles of abuse, generational inheritance of trauma, and more. In the midst of it all we manage to bring in humor, circus arts, hip hop dance, live grafitti art, and more. On Contentious Grounds asks us to make links between global political realities and life inside our unique bodies.