9/11 ‘Table of Silence’ Revisited

Thursday, Sep 10, 2020
Terese Capucilli
Juilliard Journal
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Raised arms concluding 'The Table of Silence Project'
Jacqulyn Buglisi's ‘Table of Silence’ project, created for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, has been put on every year since then

A commemoration of the September 11 attacks is reinvented for our own unimaginable times

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the unimaginable—the attacks of September 11, 2001—choreographer Jacqulyn Buglisi created a public work, Table of Silence 9/11 Project,  that she has described as a “multicultural prayer for peace.” Over the years, the piece has become an inspiring annual ritual of the dance season, one featuring more than 150 dancers dressed in white somberly marching from Juilliard to Lincoln Center and around the fountain in a work of reflection and hope.

This year, of course, everything is different as we remember an unimaginable time in the midst of another unimaginable time. Due to social distancing requirements, this year’s Table of Silence will include a much smaller live performance with just 24 dancers, among them faculty member Terese Capucilli and alumni Evan Fisk, Peter Farrow, and Myles Hunter. There will also be footage of previous editions (each of which included many members of the Juilliard community) and testimonials from dance world luminaries, among them Damian Woetzel, Juilliard’s president; Alicia Graf Mack, director and dean of the Dance Division; Janet Eilber (BFA ’73, dance); Heather Watts; and Jody Arnhold.

Capucilli, who has been deeply involved in the Table of Silence from its inception, reflected on it before taking part.

By Terese Capucilli

Ten years ago, choreographer Jacqulyn Buglisi had a vision to commemorate all those lost in the tragedy of 9/11. She imagined a call to worldwide action: to envision the day when peace and unity, compassion and solidarity, tolerance and love could symbolically bring us all to the same table. Bringing that vision to the public required overcoming tremendous obstacles, but because of Jacqulyn’s passion and perseverance, we have been bringing a diverse community of dancers to Lincoln Center to livestream this beautiful and crucial event. It has been a gift to me each year to participate as bell master—to orchestrate the threads that bind the dancers to this common calling and to use our art as a means to heal, carrying the viewer on wings of hope and remembrance. 

Each year since the inception of Table of Silence Project 9/11, the Juilliard second-year dance class has participated along with other dance students as well as current and alumni musicians. Each year, our final week of rehearsals has brought us into the Juilliard dance studios to work prior to taking the dancers to the plaza. Orchestrating up to 180 dancers with instrumentalists and singers is a huge feat, and it is Jacqulyn’s ability to bring these artists together with a common goal—to breathe as one—that has inspired what has become this enormous Table of Silence family. 

The ritual of creating concentric circles alluding to the ancient peace labyrinths around the Revson Fountain produces an energy that radiates hope and unity. Nearly a million people across 50 states and in 129 countries have seen the event as have audiences that have come to see it or passersby who have happened upon it. 

Every year when we set foot onto the plaza to perform Table of Silence, we choose hope, we choose peace and resilience, we choose compassion, and we choose to use our art forms to speak the unspeakable nourishing, as art does, the soul of humanity.

This year more than ever, our emotional states of being have travelled to places of solitude and disconnect. Together as we commemorate all those lost to the world on 9/11, we now bring hope to those who have lost so many in this pandemic and through all the unrest in the world and in the core of our planet. 

>Watch the livestream of Table of Silence Friday, September 11, from 7:50am to 8:50am here