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 Lissa Resnick

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



Tell us a little bit about your dance background.

My formative dance training was via full scholarships at Joffrey, Marin and San Francisco Ballet where I trained with such masters as Irina Jacobsen (SF Ballet school) and Norbert Vesak (formerly of San Francisco Opera). My early training helped me earn the competitive Harkness Scholarship Award at the age of 16. I have performed with the San Francisco Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Bonnie Simoa Contemporary Dance, Danse Lumiere and as a guest artist.   I enjoyed the variety of performing principle roles at Herbst Theatre-San Francisco, UC Berkeley, and in collaboration with iconic poet Michael McClure while working with Danse Lumiere. I began teaching ballet and contemporary ballet in 2011 and continue this part-time. In 2012, I founded No Strings Attached Dance Company as a platform for my own choreographic work.

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

No Strings Attached Dance Company will be presenting “Edifice: Uncovered”, originally commissioned by Art Moves Project in 2017.  This work has gone through many iterations and was conceived as a collaboration with fiber artist Marcia Barrow Taylor. Throughout the piece, we investigate the relationship between breaking walls and barriers, asking the question “What’s inside” once your external layers are removed. We originally used props such as yarn and sleeves, but now have stripped it down to its movement base. This work continues to grow and I suspect we may see another chapter in the next year.

What are the major sources of inspiration for your choreography?

I am hugely inspired by my husband and three children.  They keep my sense of humor in tune and keep my thinking flexible.  Other inspirations are music and other artists. I love working and co-creating with artists of other genres whether they be dancers, painters, musicians, and even medical researchers.

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

I left the dance world for almost a decade to explore other areas of study and got my degree in Exercise Science and then a Doctorate in Physical Therapy.  It is such a joy to work with people in this healing and meaningful way. I find it balances me in a way dancing cannot. I am fascinated by the marriage between dance and science and this union inspires me to keep going!

What advice would you pass on to an aspiring choreographer?

Set aside time every day for your craft.  There is the myth of how artists work…that it’s all or nothing.  I think this has been disproven time and time again. The book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work really inspired me to get creative with how I schedule my creative work.  It details Balanchine (did most of his work ironing), and Anthony Trollope, who demanded of himself that he write three thousand words each morning before going off to his postal service job.   I have 3 kids and a few jobs, so I think it’s been partly choreographic survival for me.  Most of all, have fun with it and surround yourself with respectful dancers that you love!

Learn more: http://lissaresnick.com