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Weekly Meditation Variation for Healing and Peace a Prelude to Annual 9/11 Table of Silence Project

by Bonnie Rosenstock
June 1, 2020
New York, NY
On Sunday, May 3, Jacqulyn Buglisi, the creator, choreographer and artistic director of the seminal 9/11 Table of Silence Project, launched a weekly virtual worldwide Meditation Variation as a prelude to the annual event. “This is most important to me to do every Sunday leading up to the 10th anniversary of doing the Table of Silence,” she said in a telephone interview. The nine-minute Meditation Variation of the 12 gestures of the Table of Silence broadcasts on YouTube. “We try to send a healing vibration around the Earth, like on 9/11.”

The Table of Silence was first performed in 2010 on the 28,000-square-foot Josie Robertson Plaza at Lincoln Center and has been performed there ever since, a site that Buglisi felt drawn to. “The fountain, the water a symbol of purity and the circle, the continuity of life,” she said. “It’s the cultural center of our country. The patterns, mandalas, three concentric circles, the pattern of an ancient labyrinth that brings up the mandala energy for healing and harmony.”

This spectacular event runs nearly 30 minutes beginning at 8:20 a.m. At 8:46 a.m., when the plane struck the North Tower on that dark day in 2011, the entire cast of 100 dancers, clad in white, pauses with open arms. “The Table of Silence represents a common thread of humanity regardless of race, culture or religion,” she said.

Buglisi is very passionate about the new weekly initiative. “It opens my heart to bring this Meditation Variation to you during this very unprecedented time that we are living through,” she said on YouTube. “We want to come together for a few moments of stillness and share a global vibration for unity and peace.”

In a press release, she added, “Together, let us transcend our fear and sorrows as we face the oppression and tragedy of COVID-19. With global unity we will fight and overcome this pandemic with resilience and hope. Let us express our gratitude for the enduring kindness and heroism of our frontline workers.”

Buglisi explained to me that the rehearsal process for Meditation Variation took place via Zoom and then was edited and recorded. “We decided the best way to do it was to have it live on YouTube to extend the vibration,” she said. “We all did it again at the same time it was being broadcast. Many of the dancers did it live on their phones with their followers or on Instagram. We wanted to create a powerful movement mantra connecting humanity, a universal healing vibration and divine light of coming together. We all had to participate at that moment while you were seeing the recorded performance.”

About two dozen individual and solitary dancers repeat the 12 gestures ten times so that viewers also have the opportunity to participate. Many people from all over the world send in photographs and videos of their family doing it together, noted Buglisi. Afterwards, there is a short live chat in which viewers can ask questions and share feelings.

Buglisi is sheltering in place in her cramped one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan Plaza on 43rd Street and 9th Avenue, which opened as a predominately performing arts residence “because no one would live here in 1977,” she said. All of the Table of Silence costumes and suitcases are lined up along one side of her wall because there’s not enough room in storage.

Table of Silence is still earmarked on the Lincoln Center calendar, noted Buglisi, but It is unclear at present if it will take place. But she promises that at the least some of it will be live, albeit on digital media. “We have it filmed for the last nine years, and we will livestream that along with some live interviews, videos of dancers and people from many places performing it and other aspects that we will do that day,” she said.

In her four-decades-long career Buglisi has created more than 100 ballets for Buglisi Dance Theatre, had a 30-year association with the Martha Graham Company, where she was a principal dancer for 12 years, and has had commissioned works for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, among numerous others. She is currently teaching her Ailey classes online via Zoom. “It’s amazing to stay connected with our students,” she said. “Being able to inspire, create a feeling of embracing and coming together with unity and love. It allows us to talk to each other, see each other and support each other.”

But, she added, “nothing replaces the face-to-face human connection that we feel in the theater.”

Or a transcendent outdoors event which calls for community, harmony and world peace.

- Watch the May 31 Meditation Variation at www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcSaG03iHT0
- For more information on upcoming events visit www.buglisidance.org
Table of Silence Project Photo Montage

Table of Silence Project Photo Montage

Photo © & courtesy of Paul B. Goode

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