As Us

A Space for Writers of the World

Kathryn Kilner – Dance

Freedom begins with awareness

We tend to think of slavery as something that happened in the past, perhaps even something that ended with the passing of the thirteenth amendment in the United States.  But slavery happens around the world today and in our own backyard.  Over 27 million people are enslaved today, laboring in sweatshops or fields without being paid or servicing johns for the profit of pimps.  It amounts to a $32 billion dollar industry—the second largest criminal industry in the world behind drug dealing and tied with arms dealing.

The enormity of the situation is that many people have no idea that it is going on.  The issue is pushed into the shadows of society and masked before our very eyes in restaurants and massage parlors that appear as legitimate businesses and in products with parts we have no idea where they come from.

It is imperative that we shed light on the injustice of modern slavery and fight for the freedom and fair treatment of all.  The first step is increasing awareness that slavery is very much a part of the modern economy to then mobilize people to drive change.

Because slavery is such a physical issue, I wanted to use the physicality of the art form of dance to draw attention to modern day slavery and encourage people to learn more.  In this dance piece, I portray the hopes and fears of an enslaved woman pinned to the ground physically, but daring to dream of a life full of love and freedom.  The piece includes audio and footage from the documentary Call + Response, which supports human rights activism to combat human trafficking through interviews with prominent figures and performances by musicians approaching their own songs with modern slavery in mind.

I come to this subject as a Caucasian female.  My family has lived in the United States of America for generations.  I can trace my family tree back to the Mayflower.  Discrimination and injustice have fueled this country since its inception and run rampant around the world, but people also have the power to fight for justice.  I stand with people from all backgrounds to fight for freedom.  Modern slavery impacts people from all cultural backgrounds and together we can fight to eradicate it.

unnamedKathryn Kilner is a dancer, choreographer and marketer living in San Francisco, California. She received her BA in history with honors and human biology as well as a minor in dance from Stanford University. She can be found tweeting @KKilner.

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