Remembering 9/11 Through Dance

Last thursday, over 100 dancers and musicians from The Buglisi Dance Theatre performed their 4th annual Table of Silence Project, paying tribute to the lives ruined and lost on 9/11.

9/11/2014; Lincoln Center, NY-- At the start of the performance, dancers moved in unison with synchronized arm movements.
9/11/2014; Lincoln Center, NY– At the start of the performance, dancers moved in unison with synchronized arm movements.

The performance began at 8:20 A.M and ended promptly at 8:46 A.M, coinciding with the exact time the first plane struck the twin towers.

9/11/2014; Lincoln Center, NY-- Dancers incorporate the fountain into their performance. Spectators watch above from the balcony.
9/11/2014; Lincoln Center, NY– Dancers incorporate the fountain into their performance. Spectators watch above from the balcony.

Despite the early start, hundreds gathered at the Josie Robertson Plaza in Lincoln Center to watch the performance.

9/11/2014; Lincoln Center, NY-- Onlookers watch from the ground and the balcony. Many took to their smartphones and tablets, raising their arms for the whole performance to record it.
9/11/2014; Lincoln Center, NY– Onlookers watch from the ground and the balcony. Many took to their smartphones and tablets, raising their arms for the whole performance to record it.

“They have a beautiful way of moving,” said Marco Marabotto, a resident of Williamsburg who found out about the show online. “It was very peaceful, and for a short time everyone was just focused on one thing…peace.” For Marabotto, the performance brought him back to that day 13 years ago. His mother used to live on Fulton street, and he remembers crossing the bridge from Williamsburg to Manhattan as the towers started collapsing. He was unable to reach her and his sister for some time, and would later learn that his uncle had died in the attacks. “Imagine going to work and never coming back,” he said. “Watching the dancers now, I could literally see and feel their pain. It made me cry.”

9/11/2014; Lincoln Center, NY-- Once of the dancers performs with the aid of a wheelchair, remaining in synch with the rest of the performance.
9/11/2014; Lincoln Center, NY– Once of the dancers performs with the aid of a wheelchair, remaining in synch with the rest of the performance.

Helping to lead the performance was bell-master Terese Capucilli. “The drum is the inner heartbeat of the work,” she said. “ My job is to keep the pace of the work. Be the thread woven into the work, because it needs peace to build up.”

9/11/2014; Lincoln Center, NY-- Bell-master Terese Capucilli walks off to the side of the stage and clasps her bell.
9/11/2014; Lincoln Center, NY– Bell-master Terese Capucilli walks off to the side of the stage and clasps her bell.

She uses a tibetan meditation bell; two small circles drawn together with a thin leather strap. Despite its small size, you can make out its distinct “ping” in between the drum cadences. Since the dancers have no way to check the time, her cues help the dancers transition between routines, culminating in a minute of silence at 8:46. During the performance, Capucilli was moved to tears. “I got so emotional. I’ve never walked like that before,” she said.

9/11/2014; Lincoln Center, NY-- Bell-master Terese Capucilli becomes emotional during the performance.
9/11/2014; Lincoln Center, NY– Bell-master Terese Capucilli becomes emotional during the performance.

Most of the performers are visibly emotional when the ceremony is over. After the show, many of them hug each other, as well as friends and relatives in the crowd. Capucilli stops to give a hug to one of the youngest dancers in the group, 15-year-old Sydney Pelletier-Martinelli. Sydney, who lost her dad in the attacks, has been dancing in this performance for the last two years. “When I’m dancing I feel at peace. It’s a way to connect,” she said. For Pelletier-Martinelli, 9/11 is almost surreal. She is too young to remember the events, and has learned most of what she knows through school and YouTube. “She’s a gem,” said Capucilli. “A lot of our performers were so young when it happened, but they are conscious of the world, and the state of the world around them.”

9/11/2014; Lincoln Center, NY-- Dancers were clad in white and used white plates as a prop. Many dancers moved with their eyes closed, feeling the rhythm of the music.
9/11/2014; Lincoln Center, NY– Dancers were clad in white and used white plates as a prop. Many dancers moved with their eyes closed, feeling the rhythm of the music.

The performance reached out globally as well. According to video producer Nel Shelby, the live stream of the event was viewed in 46 countries, with as many as 600 people viewing it at any given moment. Shelby is in charge of the video feed, which comes on from three different cameras, as well as the sound, which comes from four separate mics; two on the drums, one in the crowd, and one by the flutes. “The biggest thing is making sure the internet works,” she joked. To date, the YouTube stream has been viewed over 11,000 times.

9/11/2014; Lincoln Center, NY-- A flute player walks among the meditating dancers.
9/11/2014; Lincoln Center, NY– A flute player walks among the meditating dancers.

The Buglisi Theatre plans to be back next year to perform once again.

9/11/2014; Lincoln Center, NY-- Singers end the performance with a melody. They are the last to exit the stage.
9/11/2014; Lincoln Center, NY– Singers end the performance with a melody. They are the last to exit the stage.

Though many years have passed since the tragic events of September 11th, Capucilli thinks that the Table of Silence project can help all people come together, regardless of circumstance. “It’s not all necessarily related to 9/11, bringing a sense of humanity together. What we do is bring in a small sense of hope to the world,” she said.

9/11/2014; Lincoln Center, NY-- After the moment of silence, dancers walked one by one off stage.
9/11/2014; Lincoln Center, NY– After the moment of silence, dancers walked one by one off stage.
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