three finger salute

Two people in red shirt hold up the Burmese protest three finger salute

Photo by Ashley Smith/Wide Eyed Studios

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three finger salute is a dance work in development inspired by protest gestures such as the three finger salute seen in 2021 anti-military political resistance in Myanmar and in 2014 Thai protests. Among many things, the salute symbolizes Southeast Asian solidarity. The performance draws from other non-verbal protest gesture like Hong Kong protesters’ sign language used to distribute supplies and resources.

Open studio showing at CEC Arts residency in Philadelphia

Using protest gestures, co-choreographers zavé martohardjono and Andrew Suseno are developing a choreographic lexicon or code for three finger salute. Non-verbal dance will tell stories of resistance from Southeast Asian political movements including in Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand. The work considers the power and resiliency of non-verbal gestures developed by Southeast Asian people fighting for liberation amidst surveillance, right wing extremism and anti-protest crackdowns. To honor the political context of Myanmar, zavé and Andrew’s research includes interviewing Kachin-American, Burmese, and Rohingya activists about current organizing in Myanmar.

Co-created by Austronesian and Southeast Asian artists who live and grew up in North America, three finger salute considers current political suppression the artists are witnessing in the U.S. including the mass arrests and incarceration of Black Lives Matter protest organizers since the 2020 uprisings for George Floyd. The work draws on the artist’s personal family history. three finger salute remembers zavé’s fiercely independent Burmese great aunt, Oma Daisy, who passed away in 2021 as protests in Myanmar were erupting.

Working with non-verbal gestures and choreographic scores, the artists will transmit the dance lexicon to workshop participants in open studio sessions and eventually to audiences in performances. Developing, transmitting, and communicating through dance and gesture pays homage to protest culture, resilience technologies, and community organizing in Southeast Asia.

• November 3, 2022

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