Raissa Simpson’s PUSH Dance Company Builds Vibrant Contemporary Dances To Gain A Deeper Understanding Of The Challenges Attributed To Mixed Heritage.


In Conversation with Alyssa Mitchel

PUSH Dance Company is proud to present choreography by Alyssa Mitchel on September 28-30, 2018 for PUSHfest Program A at ODC Theater in San Francisco. 


Tell us a little bit about your dance background.

I grew up in the Bay Area and trained in tap, jazz, hip-hop and competitive rhythmic gymnastics before transitioning to ballet and contemporary dance in my high school and college years. Professionally, I’ve worked with Garrett+Moulton Productions, Peter & Co., SpectorDance, Labayen Dance and SOULSKIN Dance, among other companies. I began making solo work in 2014 and founded my own company two years later.

What can audiences look forward to seeing in your work at PUSHfest?

Audiences can look forward to very sharp, intense and dynamic movement with solo, partnering, trio and ensemble-based work. The choreography combines my own phrase-work with creative tasks given to my four dancers. “Lost Passport” is an excerpt from my work, “Szülőföld,” which was inspired by the history of my family’s immigration to the U.S.

What are the major sources of inspiration for your choreography?

Music! I have several musicians in my family. My maternal great-grandmother and grandmother were both classical pianists. My younger sister is a classical pianist and I’m fortunate to be able to collaborate with her and student composers from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music including Evan Tiapula. As a teacher and educator, I am constantly inspired by my own teachers in both academic and dance settings. Liz Caffrey, Janice Garrett and Margaret Swarthout are three huge role models who mentored me and inspired my work.

If you hadn’t chosen this career, what might you have been doing in your life?

In 2015 I earned a B.A in Liberal Studies/Teacher preparation and a minor in mathematics from the Dominican University of California.  I love my current work as a math tutor so I would probably be doing a lot more of it! It’s likely that I’d also be a personal trainer or core strength instructor. Fitness has always been a vital part of my life and well-being.

What advice would you pass on to an aspiring choreographer?

Research research research. Study and read. Thoroughly prepare for your rehearsals so that you can accomplish a lot when you get in the studio, especially if you’re working with several collaborators! Find a style that works for you to generate material. Set high expectations for yourself and your collaborators.  Organize your time efficiently and effectively. Choose a mentor, network and don’t close any doors. Take every opportunity that comes your way and use rejection as an opportunity to grow and produce more work! Finally, be kind to yourself, to your dancers, your collaborators, your family, your friends and everyone else! As my great-grandfather would say, “Kill ‘em with kindness!”

Learn more: https://alyssaevemitchel.weebly.com