Survival by Andros Zins-Browne
April 1, 2021
Choreographers, Andros Zins-Browne and Kennis Hawkins were commissioned to present a new live work at Danspace Project, January, 2021. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this performance was sadly cancelled. In lieu of a live performance this winter season, Zins-Browne offers a three part series to the Danspace Project Online Journal this spring: “Intimacy,” “Contagion,” and “Survival.” All three pieces are provided as texts and audio recorded readings, written and performed by Zins-Browne.
Read or listen to part III of the series, “Survival,” below.
I used to think survival was opening FedEx packages on a desert island. I don’t know how to tie knots. I don’t know how to spearfish or start fires. I don’t know how to dance by myself. In the morning, I read the news. At night, I say goodnight to the pets. During the days I check: my bank account, the news, emails, scrolls of faces I know or feel I know. It’s all still there. Good, I say goodnight to the pets. I don’t crack open coconuts. I have buyers remorse rolling out of the supermarket. The comrades of my body have begun to jump ship. Their absence sculpts an absence of contour. It’s fair to say, I’ve developed a frontal relationship to the world.
One Sunday, The Good Reverend preached to us:
‘and if ya had yaself a car, would ya git yaself sum ka insurints?
N, N whut about ya h-homme, wouldnt ya, wouldnt ya git yaself sum hhome insurints?
But whut,- w-a hut about, ya SOUL-ahh? Whut ABOUT, ya SOUL? hmmmm?
Do ya have yaself sum SOUL insurints? Hmmm?
Do ya. have. Yaself sum. SOUL insurints fuh the othersidd-ah?
And I didn’t think it at the time, but maybe it occurs to me now, we’re on that other side.
I got toilet paper. Cough syrup, water—canned and bottled, cleaning supplies. Batteries, followers, good memories, bare life, unopened mail, several forms of insurance, insurance brokers, technicolor variations on a theme of safety. Extra safeties in the car, in the pantry, I have seasons and sequels to that too. Duplicates of just in cases. I swallow them in the morning. They say goodnight to me back.
I remember the distinction—simply described, late one night, by the glow of a copper-skinned woman on my phone screen. Her voice was influencer-smooth, syrupy but serious, like the good reverend but without any urgency. Her now-that-I-got-you-watching-me sermon propounded the distinction between thriving and surviving.
Or, I remember the idea was that this distinction was like a code—especially one that people on our end of the color spectrum should live by. A code, or a coin. Heads:
the by-any-means-necessary, the I-don’t-wait-I-create, the I-believe-in-cans-not-can’ts. Tails: shaming
the day-to-day, hand-to-mouth, that first-of-the-month swagger, that give-a-man-a-fishitude, that guilty-by-association, which was particular to Black and Brown life.
I still can’t catch a fish. I almost cried tears of joy when I deposited that stimulus check. I’ve run circles around myself while waiting for shit to happen for me.
But I remember noting the distinction as the thing that hung on the thing that made me go hmmm, that lingered long after I switched off my phone and began counting backwards, hoping to fall asleep.
While I slept through the next several months, the discrepancies of those two distinct forms began to erode. Now thriving and surviving are the formulation of a singular vague sense: the Spanglish I use to say good morning to the neighbor, the cronut of all-day breakfasts, the spork I eat it with.
Shiny black shoes that are portals, reflecting the world back onto itself in blurred motion
Hair—perfectly placed on head, like child on lap, holding the focal point around which all that blurs, orbits
Breath, Breath, breaths, breathes, breaths
The gears shift joints into unison with hips that are mechanical that are electrical that are muscular that are solar that are sensation, the thoughts vocalized and non-verbal, unroll time which is waves of sound, carving the world into new forms of past tense
¡Yo viviré, allí estaré!
Mientras pase una comparsa con mi rumba cantaré
The wig’s magenta, and the stars are too,
matching neon to the notes which sing magenta too.
What’s survival when everything’s survival
What’s survival when everyone’s surviving by proxy?
Grabbing boxed life off the shelves, and dropping it in the cart with one hand, while the other sends off a gif.
the stuttering loop of an ebullient
brown face with a modest 90s flattop
This will kill that, LOL
And so goes the cycle of life
The carcass of a female Blue Whale, beached, feeding generations even surpassing her own lifespan.
¡Yo Vivere! Belted out now, hits a tone that sounds false, only because so sure.
Karaoke sure, silly sure, blue pill, red pill sure.
As if a body surviving was the movement of the clouds, that certain, and, that indifferent.
As if not surviving was just as certain, but, less important.
Not the empires of microorganisms that fell while we were watering what we thought was a delicate squash flower,
The rot that flourished underneath our feet while we did.