Temenos is an ongoing series of events and workshops that engages communities through experimental movement and the cultivation of safe spaces for and physical expression and exploration based in Kansas City, Missouri.
Temenos is a Greek word referring to a protected or sacred space, a refuge in which to regenerate. Using language, sound, and visual elements such as masks and installations, Temenos provides time and place to explore curiosity and sensation through physical movement. People are gently guided through motion and visualization to reconnect with their forms. Sound and music are utilized to harmonize the group, and bring awareness to the surrounding space. As the workshop progresses, the motion generated by the group becomes dance-like, Temenos is not held with the purpose of teaching or encouraging a particular style or school of movement, nor is it meant to be performative. Rather, the facilitator guides movement cues and visualizations that participants can interpret and respond as it feels appropriate. Throughout the duration, there are no mistakes, only motion to be felt and released. Emphasis is placed on feeling one’s own body respond to the sound, as opposed to focusing on the outward appearance of gesture. Music of many different genres, time periods, and cultures is used to encourage dancers to explore new ways of allowing the body to shapeshift.
Upon arrival, each participant is given the opportunity to choose an abstract mask to wear. Each with its own personality, the masks are sewn from used material, typically repurposed clothes and linens. Straps in the back of each piece enable each individual to adjust the tightness of the mask for personal comfort. The opening around the eyes allows dancers to see clearly as he/she moves around, interacting with the surrounding people and space. All masks cover the head, giving their wearers an extent of anonymity in a colorful crowd of other whimsically half-hidden faces.
The purpose of the masks is to serve as enablers and protectors for those who wear them. These playful disguises accord participants permission to move and animate their bodies in ways that the rigid, yet unspoken rules of socially accepted body language typically hinder, or even punish. Under the eccentric compositions of fabric engulfing their heads, people are given an opportunity to express a version of themselves that remains dormant in their day-to-day lives. Energy builds and possibilities expand as participants witness those around them engaging in expressive, and sometimes unconventional articulation of their physical forms.
Temenos was created and continues to evolve to help members of communities remember and experience the joy of movement. Its intention is to help people feel more alive, more aware of their own power. In our mind-centered culture, we often relegate movement to the status of a chore called exercise. It is often treated as an undesirable form of work necessary to maintain physical fitness, rather than the intensely gratifying and pleasurable act of self-realization that it can be. Movement in the form of dance is a potent community building ritual, present in nearly all ancient and tribal cultures. The masks serve as both a unifier and ritual object, signifying participation in a shift social reality. It is the hope of the facilitator that these events will serve as one of many options in their lives for individuals to find enjoyment, healing, and expression through movement.