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 Joan Lazarus

PUSH Dance Company is proud to present choreography by Joan Lazarus on Wednesday November 18, 2020 LIVE at 6 PM. Photo of Lazarus/Dance at San Francisco Moving Arts Festival by Don Albonico

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.
Whew. Started ballet at 5 which means I have been dancing for more than 6 decades. Discovered modern dance in college — thought it would be an easy “A” for PE requirements since I was already dancing professionally in a regional ballet company. As my first modern teacher said, “Joan, you are not obedient enough to be a ballet dancer.” And so I am a hybrid. Still love ballet, but dream in contemporary forms, including flying.

What can audiences look forward to seeing in your work at PUSHfest?
Multi-generational movers and beautiful music.

What are the major sources of inspiration for your choreography? What are you curious about?
Major sources of inspiration? That’s easy! The dancers in the room with me. I almost always begin with a movement idea that is supported by music, but not necessarily the music that will be used in performance. And then it’s a relationship with the dancers — who are they? what comes up for them on that particular day? where are the boundaries and the break-throughs?

If you hadn’t chosen this career, what might you have been doing in your life?
Research scientist in acoustic phonetics.

Photo by Lorelei G. Voorsanger

What advice would you pass on to an aspiring choreographer?
Don’t force it. When you have something to communicate through movement, do it. You do not need to be “interesting.” You need to be real. At least, that’s what I like to watch.

Learn more:
www.danceartsf.org www.terpshichorenow.weebly.com

Joan Lazarus, former Executive Director Oakland Ballet, Perry-Mansfield, WestWave Dance, General Manager Cowell Theater. Capital Campaign Consultant ODC Dance Commons, President Dance Bay Area, Steering Committee Bay Area National Dance Week. 

Performed with, or in the works of, Alonzo King, Cliff Keuter, Ellen Bromberg, Victoria Morgan, Krissy Keefer, Frank Shawl, Bill DeYoung, Mark Morris, Toni Pimble, Richard Colton, Mary Miller, Kathleen McClintock, Sarah Bush, Alan Ptashek. Founding member Eugene Ballet. Full-time faculty University of Oregon and Mills College; faculty San Francisco Ballet, Dance Circle of Boston, Princeton Ballet, Shawl-Anderson Dance Center. Co-author Dance Curriculum Guide San Francisco Unified School District; Choreographer San Francisco Embarcadero redesign in the wake of Loma Prieta earthquake, 1989. B.A. Psycholinguistics, M.A. Dance, M.A. Arts Administration. 2006 Bay Area National Dance Week’s Contribution to the Field of Dance Award; 2012 Isadora Duncan Dance Award for Sustained Achievement. Named “2011 Dance MVP” by The San Francisco Chronicle.