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Project: Motion’s “Bloodlines + Bylines”

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What does family mean? What does it look like?

Anna Esquivel asked these questions during workshops held last fall at Knowledge Quest Memphis, Madonna Learning Center, and Town Village at Audubon Park. She gathered the answers from young and old and then put together a narrative for Project: Motion to set into dance for "Bloodlines + Bylines: Excavating Familial Stories from Memphis."

"She created a beautiful script. It's really lovely," says Project: Motion's artistic director, Rebecca Cochran.

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Five choreographers took Esquivel's script and worked up dances based on the stories. Some are based on a particular person, others on a spark of idea or a conversation, says Cochran.

Cochran's dance follows Robert and concerns the frailty of life. He is dying of cancer and desperately wants to pass his stories along to his grandson. Robert's daughter-in-law Vivian is seen in the dance choreographed by Louisa Koeppel. Vivian is a writer and a new mother who is struggling to find balance between her creative baby and her human baby.

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Bethany Wells Bak's dance involves a mother and son and their "messy, secure love." Emily Heflyer and Wayne M. Smith team up for a dance revolving around Sonya, a transplant to Memphis from Brazil. Sonya keeps up with her family through letters, and so she refers to her family as her "paper family."

"It's a reminder of how important family really is, whether we like them or not, or if it's a family we create," Cochran says.

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