Manchester Social Student-made

Do something different: Reflections on coletivA ocupação

Quickly finishing our drinks outside the Millennium Powerhouse in Moss Side, we patiently funnel into a dark gymnasium with floor lights to mark out a set square in the middle. Chairs are dispersed across the space facing in random directions. We sit. We wait. A beat begins to play, flowing into a Latin American tune, and dancers emerge out of the mass of seated people running around creating a chaotic atmosphere….

A couple of weeks before my friend had sent over a link for this performance, inviting me to join her, (‘come along if you fancy it’, she said). I looked at the page, which gave little away as to what might happen during the performance simply calling it an ‘experiential dance’. Ordinarily I would be hesitant to go to something like this, but that day I decided to go for it.

What I ended up seeing was coletivA ocupação, a group of Brazilian dancers who, through experiential dance, told the story of the 2015 and 2016 school occupations in Brazil. These occupations were a stand-off by the students in the face of in education cuts by the government which would see as many as 94 public schools closing down (you can read more about this here).

This group had been part of the occupations in 2015 and 2016 – they had gone to fight back against these government cuts. Throughout the whole evening, I felt empowered and motivated by their story which was described through a mixture of dance, Portuguese, and video clips from their time during the occupation.

Credit: coletivA ocupação

Having been hesitant to go at first, I’m glad I decided to go that night as the whole experience made me think about the need to get out of the daily routine and go do something. During this time of the year, it can be hard to motivate yourself to do anything else but revise or work, eat or sleep. The stress levels are high and all you want to do is to finish for the summer.

I think there’s something to be learnt from that amazing group of people I saw that random Thursday night (and that does not mean I’m implying we should go occupy the University!). Life can feel like a continuous list of things to do that never gets done, but it’s important to step out of your daily routine once and a while and go do something. Whether that’s going to an inspirational talk, a protest, or even just a random ‘experiential dance’, as students, there are constantly opportunities for us to stand up and make a change. The young people of coletivA ocupação didn’t have to protest or fight back but they chose to do something that day which would have a lasting impact. So, while you work away on your latest assignment or dissertation or thesis, why not go out and do something – you never know what impact it might have.

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