PUSH

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

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Guest Choreography at SCU

Raissa Simpson will premiere FICTIVE ROOTS February 8-11, 2018 at Santa Clara University. The work is made possible through the input of the students.

Reflection: Santa Clara University

THE PROCESS

It’s a long rainy day and I admit this reflection is long overdue. This post feels like an unleashing of subconscious memories, a trail of deeply rooted thoughts for probing an unwilling mind. When I first stepped into the studio at Santa Clara University, I had few preconceived conceptions of what I was getting myself into. Many years ago, the campus was the scene to an all-day math camp for Black and Latino students. It was a place to where I studied subjects like Algebra and Geometry. It was also a backdrop to prejudice where a Latino camp leader asked the black students to sit on one side of the Mayer Theater while the other students listened to his chants of “Chicano Power.”

Here I stand. Despite all my attempts to forget, perhaps these memories permeate my existence as I look to the horizon at the Mayer Theater as the location to debut FICTIVE ROOTS. These past experiences have informed my approach to creating this new work on new but capable bodies. It has made me self-aware of how I positioned in this dialogic process.

Imagine a Black mixed heritage woman choreographer asking a group of students, who on the surface seem hegemonic, to effect a work steeped in the experiences of marginalized bodies. Through an open dialogue, the students are asked to ideate core values around ancestry. Each pupil contributes information extracted from each of their grandparents in order to learn their own individual ancestry. They then present these lineages, which includes Guatemala, the Philippines, and much more.

By remaining unbiased, I was able to get to know what forms of oppression are a concern to the students like colonization, freedom of religion and war. The group was open to lending their voices to a sound score. Asking me to see a positive side to any obstacles of making cultural work almost privileges the conversation. From my perceptions, the work needs to have as much disconnect as it does connection

This is a starting point… The distance traveled is important. The obstacles we encounter along the way should be counted and acknowledged.

Raissa Simpson will premiere FICTIVE ROOTS February 8-11, 2018 at Santa Clara University. The work is made possible through the input of the students.