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


PUSHfest at ODC 2019 Press Release

PUSH Dance Company (PUSH) announces the 6th Annual PUSHfest Dance Festival, featuring a final installment of the Afro-futuristic Mothership III by Artistic Director Raissa Simpson and a world premiere work by Bessie Award-winning guest choreographer Gerald Casel. September 20-22, 2019. Pictured: Niara Hardister in Codelining, Photo by Matt Haber


MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Carbonara, 415-845-9994 or marycarbonara@gmail.com


September 20-22, 2019 at ODC Theater in San Francisco
Tickets: $20-$35 or $55 Fast Pass, $100 Festival Pass; 415-863-9834 or www.pushdance.org/festival

SAN FRANCISCO, May 21, 2019 — PUSH Dance Company (PUSH) kicks off its fourteenth home season with PUSHfest, a mixed genre showcase of dance works by mid-career to emerging choreographers aimed at gathering wider audiences, September 20-22 at ODC Theater. This new season will feature a final installment of the Afro-futuristic  Mothership III by Artistic Director Raissa Simpson and a world premiere work by Bessie Award-winning guest choreographer Gerald Casel. Celebrated local choreographers Yayoi Kambara, David Herrera and Joslynn Mathis Reed join the lineup as well as SF debuts by visiting companies and artists from New York, Ohio and Indiana.

PUSHFest features four different programs performed nightly on Friday, September 20 at 8pm and Saturday, September 21 at 8pm and Sunday, September 22 at 4:30pm and 7:30pm. Tickets are $20-$35 with special discount ticket packages available.  Contact the box office at 415-863-9834 or go to www.pushdance.org/festival.

“This year, PUSHfest is heading in a bold new direction by doubling our programming in order to make the festival more inclusive of emerging artists and those mid-career choreographers,” says Simpson.  “We’ve expanded our programming from our traditional two program format to four different programs.” Guest Choreographer Gerald Casel will create a world premiere for PUSHLab, a six-week immersive workshop for pre-professional performers. “Casel’s work is meaningful and loaded with coding,” explains Simpson. “I’m thrilled to add his voice to PUSHfest and to provide this opportunity for other artists to work with him through PUSHLab.”

“My work has been focused on racial equity and interrogating the racial inequities in our field,” explains Casel.  “For PUSHLab I’ll be looking at how we distill, encode, and ascribe meaning into a form that is abstract but shimmers with resonant meaning and how, as a brown or black body, there is already an ascribed meaning even before dancers of color perform.”  Casel adds “PUSH values and elevates the experiences of dancers of color. I have mostly worked with white-identified dancers since there are not very many freelance dancers of color in San Francisco who seek postmodern dance experiences, so this experience will be quite unique for me.”  

Additional performance highlights for PUSHfest 2019 include a group work by returning local choreographer Anupama Srivastava and the New York-based Jamal Jackson. New to the Festival this year are four Installation Artists who will activate the theater lobby and audience areas during intermission.  (See below for complete lineup.)

PUSHfest 2019 Promo Video: https://vimeo.com/334562434

World Premiere of Simpson’s Mothership (Part III)

PUSH Dance Company premiere’s the final installment of Raissa Simpson’s Mothership (Part III), commissioned by the African American Theater Alliance for Independence (AATAIN), San Francisco Grants for the Arts and the Zellerbach Family Foundation.

For Mothership (Part II), Simpson again investigates Afrofuturism — an artistic movement begun in mid-1990s  predicated on imagining the past, examining the present and predicting the future, often in somewhat science fiction-like terms. This third series sets itself apart from the second by examining present day scenarios with visitors from outer-space.  Like an intriguing Sci-Fi novel, the work interrogates cultural traditions and appropriations alongside elements of new identity, specifically the connection between real people and cultural imaginaries. Mothership (Part III) borrows from current events while exploring social movements, cultural histories, and national identity in tandem with interrogating actions around defamiliarizing what is socially familiar. In this vein, Simpson will create new media and set elements to round out the piece.

“I was particularly interested in Octavia E. Butler and her reasons for writing science fiction stories for Black People in present day life.” Simpson states, “She was confronted with the question of why is it necessary to have Black Characters in her narratives even if extraterrestrials are omnipresent in science-fiction and made it a point to insert them into her futuristic stories.”

About PUSH Dance Company

Described as “emotional and kinetic” (SF Bay Guardian), Raissa Simpson’s PUSH Dance Company (founded in 2005) has performed to critical acclaim while building upon the philosophy that pure movement and intellect can coexist with a commitment to outreach and dance education.

Hailed by Dance Spirit Magazine as “reflective contemporary choreography,” Simpson’s work has been performed in more than 50 venues across the country, including Dance St. Louis Spring to Dance Emerson Festival, Links Hall in Chicago, Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech, Joyce SoHo, Washington Ensemble Theater, Evolve Dance Festival in NY, Los Angeles Theater Center, Black Choreographers Festival, UC Davis, Sacramento State, Stanford University, SF State University, Santa Clara University, ODC Theater, Museum of the African Diaspora, Renberg Theater, Dance Initiative Carbondale and Aspen Fringe Festival.   

Simpson has been honored with the Magrit Mondavi Award, ChoreoProject’s People’s Choice Award, BADw’s Choreographer of the Year 2012, and the African American Theater Alliance for Independence (AATAIN). She has held residencies at the Bayview Opera House, Garage Artspace, Zaccho Studio, African American Art & Culture Complex, and Margaret Jenkins Dance Company’s CHIME.

PUSH and Raissa Simpson have received support from the California Arts Council, San Francisco Arts Commission, Grants for the Arts, Zellerbach Family Foundation,​  CA$H, Dancers’ Group Lighting in Dance Award, SF Foundation, ODC Theater’s Fleishhacker Opportunity Fund, The Kenneth Rainin Foundation, and generous individual donors.

About Guest Choreographer Gerald Casel

Philippine-born Gerald Casel received a BFA in Dance from the Juilliard School and an MFA from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has danced in the companies of Michael Clark, Stanley Love, Zvi Gotheiner, Lar Lubovitch and Stephen Petronio, where he was a member from 1991-1998 and 2001-2005 serving as the Stephen Petronio Company Assistant Director and Director of Education. In 1997 he was given a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for sustained achievement.

Tickets for PUSHfest 2019 are priced at $30 in advance, $35 at the door, $20 for seniors and students, or $55 for a Fast pass to 2 programs or a $100 Festival pass for 4 programs. A 10% discount is available for groups of 10 or more. Tickets and Festival passes can be purchased online at www.pushdance.org/festival starting July 1st, 2019.

PUSHfest 2019 Video Teaser: https://vimeo.com/334562434

Hi-Res Photos are available for download at:  www.pushdance.org/photos

Company Website:  www.pushdance.org

PUSHfest 2019 Program Information

PROGRAM A:  Friday September 20, 8pm

Peri Trono (San Francisco)
David Herrera | David Herrera Performance Company (San Francisco)
Julie Crothers (Oakland)
Jesselito Bie | STEAMROLLER Dance Company (San Francisco)
Sierra Don (San Francisco)
Hannah Young (San Francisco)
Raissa Simpson | PUSH Dance Company (San Francisco)

PROGRAM B: Saturday September 21, 8pm

Yayoi Kambara | Kambara + Dancers (San Francisco)
Joslynn Mathis Reed | Mathis Reed Dance Company (Oakland)
Nya McCarthy-Brown |Bent Knee Collective (Columbus)
SNJV (Hayward)
Meghan Horowitz | KTCHN SYNC collective (San Jose)
Cindy Heen (San Francisco)
Jamal Jackson | Jamal Jackson Dance Company (Brooklyn)
Gerald Casel | PUSHLab (San Francisco)

PROGRAM C: Sunday September 22, 4:30pm

Andi Salazar (Oakland)
Tony Nguyen | TwoPoint4 Dance Theatre (Carmichael)
Kathleen Hickey (Indiana)
Bhumi Patel | pateldanceworks (Oakland)
Sierra Don (San Francisco)
Jyotsna Vaidee| Samudra Dance Creations (Los Altos)
Raissa Simpson | PUSH Dance Company (San Francisco)

PROGRAM D: Sunday September 22, 7:30pm

Annie Kahane | Alive & Well Productions (Berkeley)
Tony Nguyen | TwoPoint4 Dance Theatre (Carmichael)
Mariana Sobral | eMotion Arts Dance Company (Campbell)
Anupama Srivastava | InSyncKathak Dance School (Fremont)
Jennifer Perfilio | Movement Works (San Francisco)
Gerald Casel | PUSHLab (San Francisco)

For complete Artists Interviews and more information, go to www.pushdance.org/festival.




“Ambitious” – The New Yorker

“Pushing the standard.” – SF Chronicle

“Sleek and sexy.” — SF Guardian


PUSH Dance Company Presents

14th Home Season and Sixth Annual PUSHfest Dance Festival

Featuring four different programs of local and visiting artists over three evenings;

Mothership III  – Choreography by Raissa Simpson;

World Premiere by Gerald Casel


Program A: Friday September 20, 8pm

Program B: Saturday September 21, 8pm

Program C: Sunday September 22, 4:30pm

Program D: Sunday September 22, 7:30pm



ODC Theater, 3153 17th Street, San Francisco, CA  94110



$30 in advance, $35 at the door, $20 for seniors and students

$55 for a Fast Festival pass that includes 2 programs

$100 for a Festival pass that includes 4 programs

10% discount for groups of 10 or more

Tickets and Festival passes can be purchased online at www.pushdance.org/festival


BOX OFFICE:   415-863-9834 or www.pushdance.org/festival


MORE INFORMATION:   www.pushdance.org/festival


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MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Carbonara, 415-845-9994 or marycarbonara@gmail.com