The most resounding word I found in Anis Barnat’s (founder of El Sistema Greece) interview, was her repetitive use of community. In somewhat contrast the Webster definition of community being “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals,” Barnat argues that this very sense of fellowship can be conjured through the meaningful sharing and transfer of different, not necessarily common, cultures and interests.
Through choral and orchestral classes, El Sistema Greece aims to use music as a means to create “a community feeling” in refugee camps. Branat shares, “asking the children themselves for songs they know, will provide [us] a way of getting to know each other’s traditions and better understanding of each other’s cultural and individual backgrounds.” In addition to El Sistema’s purpose of building mutual empathy and unity between the volunteers/teachers and camp inhabitants, Branat elaborates that this initiative “aims to teach the children and young people values like leadership, solidarity with peers, self-esteem and capacity to work as a team.” And thus, art becomes a means community and individual empowerment in refugee camps.
Barnat’s conviction that art can be employed to create a community, despite differences, stands out to me for multiple reasons. Firstly, it echoes our class discussion on how “dance is always embodied transfer” and that our relationship with the camp inhabitants will be that of mutual exchange and sharing. Secondly, it reinforces the arguable notion that art truly is a universal language, that supersedes differences to create a feeling of togetherness. Given its embodied transfer and innate universality, I’m becoming more certain that, dance (just like music) is an art we can use to effectively make a difference in these camps – even if it just means bringing a more positive and unified feeling among the inhabitants.Sistema England. "Anis Barnat, founder of El Sistema Greece." Changing lives through music, 8 Jan 2018. Accessed http://www.sistemaengland.org.uk/anis-barnat-from-el-sistema-greece/. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary Accessed 8 Jan 2018. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/risk.
This is a lovely post. What you point out is that “community” can be made through shared experiences of creation, just like our class became a community that supported one another because not a single one of us had all the skills or all the knowledge to make all the classes in the camps happen. Music and dance also get us out of our heads, and there is less potential for conflict to occur in the making of these art forms. As you write, the way in which knowledge is transferred is also humane – one has to physically lend one’s own body to demonstrate and dance (or sing) beside the people in the encounter. But I do want to point out one thing – community isn’t made in one encounter. While we had very little time in the camps, we went every day and built relationships thorough shared experience. They counted on us to come, we began to get attached and anticipate the visits. There was a mutual need and a mutual sharing. Community is not always there. It gets made in most any spaces, through shared transmission, and through conscious and intentional performance.