The Holy Bible, the authors and artists who have been impacted by it, and the discussions of faith I have experienced in my core classes have heavily influenced my reflection. This dance is about people who believe, or are struggling to believe, in God. The first character is struggling with sin, the second is lying down and praying before she goes to sleep and the third is attending mass. Although the dancers have distinct identities the dance is primarily about praying and struggling to do it correctly. The Catholic Church has made a lot of religious practice about tradition and I feel it loses its focus on faith. The third solo is a satire of sitting, kneeling and standing in pews on cue during mass. I want to highlight how mass can become such a ritual that it becomes a habit and it loses meaning.
Some of these habits don’t have a meaning in the first place. For instance, I memorized the ‘Hail Mary’ prayer at about age eight but never knew the meaning until recently. I have said that prayer every night before I went to sleep for the past twelve years without understanding it, because in reciting it so often, I never stopped to listen to the words. I think the core curriculum is about taking the time to digest, debate and explore which is what I have done through the medium of my choreography.
Dominique Nieves (CC '13) is a dance major with a pre-medical concentration. She has choreographed many full-length pieces for Columbia student groups and is continuously inspired by her educational and cultural experiences at Columbia.