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 Sierra Don

PUSH Dance Company is proud to present choreography by Sierra Don on September 20-22, 2019 for PUSHfest Program A and C at ODC Theater in San Francisco. 


Tell us a little bit about your dance background.
I began as a gymnast while also performing in musical theater throughout grade school in the central valley. I earned my B.A. in Theatre Arts – Dance with a focus on modern floorwork. During my B.A. I worked with Rogelio Lopez, Seda Aybay, Trisha Brown Co. and CONTRA TIEMPO. I immediately moving to the Bay Area to earn my M.F.A at Mills College with a focus in Choreography. During my M.F.A career I worked with Robert Moses Kin, CONTRA TIEMPO, Movement Exchange, and Isadora Duncan Co. I began presenting my own work in 2018 during my final year at Mills College. The work has come round full circle a year later and is blooming into my own Artist Collective.

What can audiences look forward to seeing in your work at PUSHfest?
The focus of my work and the mission of my artist collective, Mogli’s Movers, is trauma-based healing through a balance of individual expression and community building. Throughout our creative process for ‘Morrigans’ we defined the meaning and importance of transparency in close and community relationships. Audiences will experience this through a collaboration of solos, duets, and strong ensemble work all with a space created and held by the live musician and vocalists.

What are the major sources of inspiration for your choreography?
I was heavily influenced by my training with CONTRA TIEMPO for their Futuro workshops. CONTRA TIEMPO not only provided tools for my own healing but also inspired me to use those tools along with my own artistry to support and heal my community. CONTRA TIEMPO’s work is based within Afro-Latin movement technique which celebrates the African Orixas (Deities). Mogli’s Movers created a foundation in respecting and celebrating one another as the true and natural deities we are as individuals.  

If you hadn’t chosen this career, what might you have been doing in your life?
During my summer spent with Movement Exchange, I traveled to Rio De Janiero, Brazil. I took classes from local instructors and taught my own classes in the Favelas (communities living in poverty) to the children and teens experiencing adversity. This is what I would dedicate my life to if I had not chosen to create and tour my own work. This intention is the same, healing community.

What advice would you pass on to an aspiring choreographer?
The most beneficial perspective I can provide to aspiring choreographers is to be clear in your intention. Find your grounded clarity before taking the risks. Have awareness of your impact as an artist and community member. Ground your roots, then take flight.

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