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 Antavius Ellison

PUSH Dance Company is proud to present choreography by Antavius Ellison on Wednesday October 28, 2020 LIVE at 6 PM. Photo by Antavius Ellison

This Fall, join us for PUSHfest Global, our virtual dance festival featuring 18 choreographers from the Bay Area and beyond. From October 7 through November 18, each Wednesday evening at 6 PM meet a new group of PUSHfest Artists for dynamic conversations about dance and activism. | Tickets & More Here

Tell us a little bit about your dance background.
I began my professional dance training during my senior year of college. There were no performing arts resources in my hometown as I was growing up. When I began my training in Atlanta, GA, Hip-Hop dance was primarily my focus. Later I expanded to other dance genres, which has molded me into the artist I am today.

What can audiences look forward to seeing in your work at PUSHfest?
I have been spending an assortment of my time getting to know myself on a more personal level, and striving to become my most authentic self. Within my discoveries, I have found solace and comfort in telling stories that are relatable to me and that has purpose. With my work at PUSHfest, I wanted to show people my perception of blackness. I take pride in myself, my skin color, my community, and I think that it’s important to tell my story, and the story of others similar to myself.

What are the major sources of inspiration for your choreography? What are you curious about?
Myself, my family, friends, the little black boy who look just like me, the older black man who lives down the street from me. They inspire me. I see myself in them. I consider myself to be a warrior. And I see all of them as such. We’ve endured so much, we fight and we fight some more. But we remain strong, and we keep pushing. And so I chose to pay homage to those warriors.

Photo by Vince Trupsin

If you hadn’t chosen this career, what might you have been doing in your life?
Real Estate haha! No, but I love speaking with the youth. I think my ultimate purpose is to mentor youth, especially black youth within impoverished communities. I, too, grew up in those communities, and I didn’t have anyone to mentor me. So I feel as though that’s part of my purpose, to be a light for the youth.

What does your work respond to or activate within this world or yourself?
My work certainly activates my higher self. I’ve gained so much confidence and assurance within myself and my life’s purpose just by completing this work alone. The process, it taught me so much about myself, and upon completing it, it gave me a sense of fulfillment that I’ve never felt before. This work has truly ignited my great awakening! And as I continue creating, I know that my awakening and the energy behind the awakening will transcend beyond me and travel throughout this world.

What advice would you pass on to an aspiring choreographer?
Trust your process and your journey. Trust yourself enough to know when something doesn’t feel authentic. Take risks, and be patient with yourself through the process. There’s a lesson within everything, and those lessons will help guide you just where you’re meant to be.

Learn more:
instagram: @taviellison
facebook: tavi.chavez

Antavius Ellison is a Los Angeles, CA based choreographer and educator. His dance background incorporates an array of dance genres, building a new and approachable visceral movement language, using his art to empower people, communities and societies.