Following Staibdance's successful 2015 premiere of Attic comes Moat, an evening-length exploration of human migration and relocation for 13 dancers. With Moat, artistic director George Staib reflects on his memories of immigrating from Iran to a small Pennsylvania town during the Iran Hostage Crisis. Fueled by heightened anti-Middle Eastern sentiment in the United States, some locals reacted with hostility, throwing tear gas into the family's yard and bullying the kids at school. The family faced -- as many do -- the cultural assimilation conundrum: how much should/can people change to fit the surrounding culture? What traditions will they give up in the name of fitting in? What is too important and remains intact?
Throughout the work, dancers crawl through, rearrange, sift, and throw 200 pounds of red rubber mulch, constantly delineating space then destroying it and moving on. They claim, shift, then reclaim place, sometimes out of the necessity, sometimes frustration. Performed in the round at Emory University's Performing Arts Studio, Moat invites viewers into a natural, messy, and constantly evolving world.
In a parallel motif, the work raises questions of self-protection; what is the difference between insulation and isolation? When a drastic event or change forces us to construct a protective shell, what are the consequences? Barriers shut out negative outcomes but they also hold those inside prisoner. It becomes as hard to get out as it is to let people in.