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Using the Body as Protest


March 29, 2022 by sullivandr1

When one thinks of pretest, the typical ‘standard’ protest forms generally come to mind. For example one usually visualizes a large group of people marching, side by side, hand in hand, waving picket signs and chanting a slogan for their cause. This has become what people tend to think of first when one mentions protest, as it is generally the most common and publicized form in the context of today and the current issues and events of our modern era.

However, a lesser known form of protest which doesn’t get nearly enough credit is that of dance. Having been a form of protest for centuries, dance is a way to express oneself and their beliefs through the manipulation of the human body, sometimes with the addition of music, to evoke certain feeling and reactions from an audience.

In the context of this particular course, the film “Neukölln Unlimited” showcases a fabulous example of dance as protest, in multiple scenes. In the film, the audience witnesses a few of the characters using their bodies to demonstrate a message. By using dance as a way to communicate, the characters are able to showcase and release their frustration with the ever-looming threat of deportation and the flawed immigration system. By using dance as a means of communication, the characters use their body to illustrate their family’s struggle by moving in a physically challenging manner which likely took them years to master. Additionally, the act of dance itself demonstrates how the characters are not only naturalized in that they have grown up in Germany, speak German, go to German school, etc., but also that their lives have been established in Germany, and have allowed their interests to sprout and flourish. The fast paced movements of the characters and choppy nature of their dance style reflects an ever-evolving way of life in which the family is forced to adapt, never knowing what might come next, and always ready to bend in order to meet the needs of themselves and others.


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