Guston-Sondin Kung

Kinesthetic Empathy Between the Living & Dead: Lecture Performance

This lecture performance takes the ruptures and gaps of traumatic family memory as a form and centers around the figure of my great aunt Elfriede Mahler. She was an American Jewish Communist Dancer that was invited by Fidel Castro to found the modern dance school in Havana in 1960. After this she moved to Guantanamo City and founded a dance troupe called Danza Libre. This troupe would be dedicated to maintaining the folkloric traditions of the Afro-Cuban population in the region while combining it with modern dance technique. The Lecture performance titled “Kinesthetic Empathy Between the Living & Dead” tells the story of Elfriede’s life and work through inherited embodied post-memory. It takes outset in her former students recollections of their time with her and how they have through embodied performance passed it on to their students. The Lecture performance will look specifically at how traumatic memory from the holocaust influenced bodily gesture and was combined and translated in Cuba via the Afro Cuban dance troupe (Danza Libre). This will be presented through myself embodying my relative Elfriede Mahler and some of her students in the lecture performance. I will hold a dialogue with pre-recorded audio and video from my time with the dance troupe in Cuba.