by Emily Babay, Washington Examiner

Bettmann is the choreographer for “Quis Custodiet,” a security-themed dance his company produced to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

What is “Quis Custodiet”? “Quis Custodiet” is the title of the dance my company, Bettmann Dances, will premiere Sept. 2. The title was drawn from an old Greek phrase, Quis Custodet ipsus custodiet, which means “who shall watch the watchers themselves.”

How can you explore security through dance? As a choreographer I’ve made a number of choices picking the stories and relationships that highlight what I think are the most interesting aspects of security since 9/11. In one section, for instance, we retell Bible stories. In the Adam and Eve story, the video projections help place that story in the context of Julian Assange and “information is dangerous.” In another section of the dance, we physically explore limitation based on the preparation to strike. With my arm raised prepared to hit you, my body is limited, and I’ve created some dance developed from that pretty simple physical exploration.

How did you get the idea for this performance? I’ve been thinking about security a lot over the last decade. Are we making the right choices in pursuing security? Is the government making the right choices for us? … Security is not an infinite good. It’s inherently limited. I think we make decisions in emergencies that might not be the best long-term decisions, and I think now, on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, it’s an opportunity to remember. Security is critically important, and balance is important, too.

What challenges did you face in choreographing “Quis Custodiet”? The biggest challenge is finding the time. I started dancing in college and even though I danced professionally, that’s not how I earn my living now.

Where will it be performed? We’ll be at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, 641 D St. NW, at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2.

– Emily Babay

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Author: Robert Bettmann

Founder of Day Eight, and the DC Arts Writing Fellowship.