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 Ayo Walker

PUSH Dance Company is proud to present choreography by Ayo Walker on September 29-30, 2018 for PUSHfest Program B at ODC Theater in San Francisco. 


Tell us a little bit about your dance background.

Most of my dance training was cultivated in university settings such San Diego State University, Mills College, and NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development – Music & Performing Arts Professions. Studio training included, the Academy of Performing Arts in San Diego, Millenium in L.A., and Broadway Dance Center and the Ailey Extension in New York. The Western Stage offered me my first opportunity as a professional dancer and choreographer and this experience generated a new passion for a career in dance education. Having recently completed my PhD in Performance Studies with an emphasis in African American and African Studies, my practice as research engages with the cultural racism that results in our society valuing different dance genres hierarchically. And when I’m not producing my own works with my project-based dance company, LJ Boogie and Company, I am in collaboration/performance with Raissa Simpson’s San Francisco based PUSH Dance Company.

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

My latest work, Do Hashtags Make Black Lives Matter? explores the nuances with engaging dance theatre, technology, and political performance intersectionally, while interrogating the desensitization of racialized police brutality due to “this fantasy about the disposability of black life [which] is a constant in American history”.

What are the major sources of inspiration for your choreography?

Social justice work via anti-essentialist movement that is at once doing and undoing stereotypical assumptions that have historically signified the black body politic. My works challenge what performing blackness is and isn’t and encourages the viewer to be comfortable with being uncomfortable when engaging with my works.

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

The arts and entertainment have and always will be the only path for my life’s journey.

What advice would you pass on to an aspiring choreographer?

Tell your story unapologetically.

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