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As a beautiful example of how artists are making things happen even in 2020, Boston choreographer Rachel Linsky has released Selection, a short dance film that is part of her longer project series ZACHOR – honoring and exploring the stories of Holocaust survivors through movement, and connecting the breaking of that community to contemporary social/political issues.

I was a part of a nine-dancer cast that was supposed to start rehearsing this project in March, in anticipation of a July live performance as part of a residency at Chelsea Theater Works. Shutdowns began two days before our first rehearsal.

Rachel promptly reorganized, and started rehearsing one particular section of her research via Zoom with seven of us who were available. Eventually this blossomed into the idea of filming this excerpt as a standalone piece of screen dance while the larger performance was on hold. She managed to secure filming permits for the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston, brought on a great dance photographer and filmmaker in Olivia Moon, ordered some masks, set things with distancing in mind, and made it happen!

Notes from Rachel on the work:

This film is part of my ongoing project series, ZACHOR, which seeks to preserve and eternalize the words of WWII Holocaust Survivors through dance. The choreography in this piece was built using memories of Holocaust Survivors Elie Wiesel and Agi Geva on the selection process in Nazi concentration camps; a process determining who would be used for slave labor and who would be sent to gas chambers, separating and destroying millions of lives and families.

For “Selection,” I incorporated the powerful words of Bernard Marks into the soundscore, as he confronts the ICE director in Sacramento, California in 2017. Survivors such as Marks, who chose and choose to share their stories do not do so because it is an easy experience for them to relive. They do so out of human responsibility, with the goal that history should never repeat itself; it is the responsibility of future generations to remember and acknowledge when history does.

This project is funded in part by Combined Jewish Philanthropies and by New England Foundation for the Arts’ New England Dance Fund, with generous support from the Aliad Fund at the Boston Foundation. Thank you to these incredible organizations and the many generous individuals who supported the creation of this work. To learn more about ZACHOR visit https://www.rachellinsky.com/zachor.html

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