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 Bhumi B Patel

PUSH Dance Company is proud to present choreography by Bhumi B Patel on Wednesday October 7, 2020 LIVE at 6 PM. Photo by Shinichi Iova-Koga

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 usually tell people that I started dancing when I was in high school, but really I’ve been dancing since I was a kid at the temple during Diwali and other holidays. I never formally studied Indian classical dance, but maybe one day. I was on a competition team in high school, and then danced all through college. When I was 23 I got injured and that really changed how I approached movement. A lot of healing was done through Gaga and other forms where I could follow pleasure and joy and feeling to get reacquainted with my body after injury.

Photo by Lydia Daniller. Pictured: Daria Garina

What can audiences look forward to seeing in your work at PUSHfest?
For PUSHfest, you’ll see an excerpt from a larger work that has been in process for a little over a year now called “divisions the empire has sown.” This work is an exploration of the division of the South Asian subcontinent into India and Pakistan (and then later Bangladesh) following British Imperialism. At some moments you see the literal creation of borders and barriers, at others you see the embodied impact. Some of the choreography comes from watching the movement of military border patrol, and some from the fear inherent in migration.

What are the major sources of inspiration for your choreography? What are you curious about?
Being a child of South Asian immigrants, there’s so much in my history that was impacted by British Colonization and the subsequent 1947 Partition, and this piece feels like some of the work of my attempts to understand, to reconcile, to interrogate.

If you hadn’t chosen this career, what might you have been doing in your life?
It’s hard to say but something creative and something grounded in the body — I’m terrible at sitting still!

What does your work respond to or activate within this world or yourself?
A lot of my work these days is digging into my own lineage and understanding that more, and by way of that understanding the world more. There’s so much fracture in the world around us and I want to know where moments of dissonance in our histories merge with one another.

What advice would you pass on to an aspiring choreographer?
Follow what nourishes you most.

Learn more:
instagram: @pateldanceworks

Bhumi B Patel is a queer, desi artist/activist who creates intersectionally feminist performances from a trauma informed, social justice-oriented perspective. Patel uses dance as a pursuit for liberation and decolonization. She creates movement outside of white models of dance but wants you to know that some of her best friends are white.