081. Andrew Suseno: Ancestors, Parcon Resilience, and racism

Episode summary

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Andrew Suseno’s Parcon goes beyond the physical to create community and fight racism. Andrew discusses his family, ancestors, and their role in his identity. We explore what Parcon is, why he created Parcon Resilience, and his vision for the anti-racist work it does. Andrew unpacks various pieces of racism in modern America, how Parcon Resilience addresses it, and shares why the work he does inspires him.

Family heritage

Stamp of his father from the family altar. Altar to the ancestors, daily ritual of sitting before it and stating a value, then telling stories of the ancestors related to the value. Connecting with past, family history and heritage (Chinese-Indonesian-American). Objects to help focus, open the doors for questions, reflection. Less ready access to his past, feeling of being cut off from heritage due to language barriers and immigration. Story of family’s immigration from Indonesia to America, assimilation, and effects on his life and identity.

Contact Improv and parkour

What is it? Sharing weight, slide, roll, balance; Conversation in movement. Begun by Steve Paxton in the 1970s, exploration of body through physics. Contact Jams, performative and interactive aspect of contact improv, inviting all experience levels to join. About connection and listening to each other. Relationship between parkour and contact improv; Introduced to parkour through Jesse Danger, parkour opened up Andrew’s sense of his environment and bridged it to contact improv. Parkour’s freedom and invitation to explore brought Andrew into it. Full body experience, opening up the way Andrew was using his body.

Parcon and ability

Parcon beginnings, history. Parcon discovering intention and exploring environment, while in relationship with another person and/or community. Anti-ambulatory (legs and feet) - Looking at the ablism in the world around us. Parcon invites all abilities, dynamic weight share opening up possibilities, transformation through relationship. Desire to explore is innate, no matter ability levels. Working in partnership to navigate a space differently; landscape can be physical, political, and social.

Parcon Resilience and anti-racism

Parcon Resilience POC centered, intersectional. Working with people to create relationships with those who are most marginalized. Being aware of your own intersections and privilege, learning about the work that’s already being done. Important to him to keep a POC majority in Parcon Resilience because you don’t have to justify talking about race. Parcon resilience; practicing ways being respectful to POC and race consciousness. Andrea Smith article: Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy . Men on top, women below, non-binary not even acknowledged. White men on top, so basis for racism. 3 pillars, slavery, genocide, and orientalism. Basis for erasure, othering people. Parcon resilience is a somatic, mind-body approach to embodying a different relationship to pillars. Orienting to our fullness; felt sense of the world, emotions, connection to ancestors.

Individual and cultural change

Hard to gauge impact; Parcon Resilience is still young. Still larger than individual; working with other communities: dance and improv, as well as activism (ACRE (Artists co-creating real equity)). Starting to connect with more communities through work and performance. Urban Planning and equity workshop, working with National educators alliance, dancers. Trying to get the work out, giving other ways to orient and connect.

Onlooker reaction and interaction

Highline flashmob; hired by the Highline, flashmob was meant to scope out the space for a later project. Not necessarily focused on audience engagement. Reactions of people in the areas where you’re working, playing. Playing at Jefferson, a local park, with his son, accidentally turned into a free and open family class. It’s happened several times, so that’s one “audience” reaction. Response depends on the area; some families don’t want their kids “rolling around on the ground.” Prepping material or explanation may be a factor. How to engage with forces that are already present, being mindful of pre-existing situations. Occasional onlookers videoing, without consent, handling that. Successfully and respectfully engaging with communities and onlookers.

Pillars of white supremacy

Genocide; land as property, erasure of people, culture. Relationship with land through parkour; did it change? Craig’s initial thought experience as a kid in rural PA. Land as something to play in, run, bike. Land as a place all around, not just the yard. Grew up in the environment. Early parkour in built spaces (not exactly urban). Andrew’s relationship with environment changed with parkour; how he viewed walls, his possibilities, how he oriented with imagination. Holding strength in the body, to connect to ancestors. Inviting the unknown to become part of our wholeness. Attention and intentions while navigating the world. Practice of parcon Resilience in keeping attention even when things get in the way; showing up in an intention, witness yourself there, in relationship to environment or people. Each space teaches something different, and it changes based on intention or partners. Discussion and debrief also an important part of process, to witness, support, reflect, and understand each other. Related to orientalism, access: “othering” and foreignness. How you set your boundaries around others, conscious and subconscious. Choices about how you show up in a space, about your relationships to the land, people, objects around you, working with your own boundaries and access. Discussion around it to support one another, and find intimacy, comfort zone, and play. Expression and conversation through movement.

Storytime

Community member, Ion Lewis. Black woman with cerebral palsy, former physical therapy patient of Andrew’s. Teaching Parcon classes at Access gym (specifically for people with disabilities). Class co-taught with Colleen Roache and Jazz Cyrus. Ion eventually joined a class. Exercise of “No, yes, modify,” meant to teach how to say no, set boundaries, discuss consent in parcon and other relationships. This exercise was life changing for Ion, being able to say no, assertively, particularly to men. Ion continued learning, and leading in parcon community, a beautiful transformation, power of dance and expression in her life. Huge inspiration for Andrew to continue this work. Discussion of how the telling of the story reflects Andrew’s tools and learning from Parcon to navigate.

A challenge

Movement has the power to reveal our experience of the world. Doing a line, or movements, but change your focus or intention. Try colors; how does it show up in your movement? Function vs expression; body isn’t just property. Practice expressing your consciousness in different ways. Reveal details, aspects. Have something join you in your movement and explore it. Different way to develop skill through repetition.

3 words

We have an index of all of the guests’ answers to this question.

Craig: And of course the final question, three words to describe your practice.

Andrew : POC centered.

Craig: That’d be one.

Andrew: That’s one.

Craig: I always say hyphens are free.

Andrew: Okay. Relationship building, vulnerable.

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