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 Patel

PUSH Dance Company is proud to present choreography by Bhumi Patel on September 20-22, 2019 for PUSHfest Program C at ODC Theater in San Francisco. 


Tell us a little bit about your dance background.
In college, I studied Graham and Humphrey techniques in Modern dance and learned in my Junior and Senior years about improvisation, Gaga, and somatic practices. I didn’t feel “good enough” to apply to MFA programs, so I sought an MA from Florida State University, where in addition to studying Cold War Era modern dance, with a heavy focus on Anna Sokolow, I got to study with faculty from many different backgrounds. This solidified my need to keep movement in my life and pursue an MFA. That, and going through a major injury and recovery. I finished my MFA and dove right into the field here in the Bay Area.

What can audiences look forward to seeing in your work at PUSHfest
The audience can look forward to seeing something very different from work I’ve made in the past. This collaboration has challenged me to think about big picture thematic content (since we’ve been working on this triptych for over two years) and think consider how I can utilize minimalism in choreography. For lack of a better way to say it, I am really interested in “dancey-dance” most of the time, so I’m stretching my boundaries with this one!

What are the major sources of inspiration for your choreography?
For this work, I’ve been interested in the pursuit of knowledge and what the Truth means, particularly in a contemporary society where knowledge is often undermined by gaslighting and denial (lookin’ at you White House!). We’ve also been looking at texts about the history of zero and the way that zero has evolved from a placeholder to a representation of satan, to an integral part of physics and our understanding of the universe. It’s converse, infinity, also plays a role in this work for us in challenging ephemerality and what “the end” of a dance or performance really means.

If you hadn’t chosen this career, what might you have been doing in your life?
I can’t imagine living a life that doesn’t involve dance, but I think I would have ended up movement-adjacent if I weren’t a choreographer: maybe a personal trainer, pilates instructor, or an outdoors educator.

What advice would you pass on to an aspiring choreographer?
Allow yourself to fuck up. You will, so plan for it.

Learn more: pateldanceworks.org