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 Nya McCarthy-Brown

PUSH Dance Company is proud to present choreography by Nya McCarthy-Brown on September 20-22, 2019 for PUSHfest Program B at ODC Theater in San Francisco. Photo by Keiko Guest


Tell us a little bit about your dance background.
I have been dancing since I followed behind my sister into the San Francisco Recreation and Parks free dance classes down the street from my house. I was a devoted participant until I was accepted at S.O.T.A. I left dance for a time to pursue a political science degree in college. But, dance called me back. After teaching dance at Fremont High in Oakland, I earned two graduate degrees in dance (MFA, PhD). I have been dancing, teaching, and writing about dance ever since.  

What can audiences look forward to seeing in your work at PUSHfest
A mother/son relationship is explored and shared onstage. The piece presents an unraveling examination of intergenerational, gender, and racial identities. This mother lays bare her experiences parenting a young, black, male, within a social climate where her son can potentially be perceived as a threat. Through these black dancing bodies, one can see an embodied response to our social ills and possibilities.  

Photo by Amy Osajima

What are the major sources of inspiration for your choreography?
My choreography is inspired by: my past, the historic civil rights movement and the current black lives matters movement, the lost lives of young black people, and the possibilities embodied by our youth.

If you hadn’t chosen this career, what might you have been doing in your life?
Advocacy work in some manner.

What advice would you pass on to an aspiring choreographer?
Go somewhere you have never been (geographically, physically or mentally), look, and listen.