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

#theRona Chronicles | JP Alejandro

#theRona Chronicles


John Paul Alejandro

#theRona Chronicles invites the performers, collaborators and staff of The Motley Experiment to reflect upon its postponement from its original March 2020 premiere to February 2021. Created in residency at Bayview Opera House, set to live music by Idris Ackamoor and the Pyramids, Raissa Simpson’s The Motley Experiment, and the collaborators who bring the project to life, are adapting and moving along with changes in the time of the COVID-19 (Corona Virus) pandemic.

What were you doing before the COVID-19 Shelter-in-Place order?

Specifically in The Motley Experiment process, I was working on solidifying my partnerships with different dancers within the piece. Even when choreography is set, there’s a fine balance with self agency and interpreting the choreographer’s ideas which I was playing with in my own body. I feel pretty content when I am able to feel absolute in the decisions I make during a performance, and that only comes from studying the material through repetition.

In terms of work beyond PUSH Dance, the collective dance group that I am a part of, CollectiveSF, was working on getting fiscally sponsored (which we are now!), and producing our very first evening length show for the SF Bay Area.

How did you feel when The Motley Experiment was postponed until February 2021?

I felt pretty bummed out, not just because of not having the opportunity to perform, but mostly because the community wouldn’t get to experience the multiple narratives that were explored within this process. The hard work of each of the collaborators for The Motley Experiment was exceptionally beautiful and perfectly layered, and I couldn’t wait to continue enhancing the space until performance day.

How are you practicing your craft during the pandemic?

I challenge my curiosity and creativity of my craft by giving myself daily artistic prompts to interpret, commit, and execute. I believe understanding your identity specifically as a dancer is something that is learned within, and not found in choreography class. With all this downtime, I’m taking time to appreciate my movement, and what makes me special as a performer. I am beginning to love how I fit within my body, and how it likes to carve out spaces, so everyday is a chance to get closer to my truest and authentic self. I find that when you are able to see yourself within the movement in any process that is when you’re truly free from judgement.

What do you look forward to doing with The Motley Experiment when the order is lifted?

Honestly, I am excited to elevate the process even more. Though bummed, this gives us an entire year to build upon the existing infrastructure of the piece. There is more time to question, challenge, and reinforce some of the main themes we explored as a group. Even in some practice runs, I was already amazed by how things were flowing.  Knowing the talent of everyone in this process, it just gives me chills to what is possible for when we present this work in the following year.

To learn more about PUSH Dance Company’s response to COVID-19, and how you can support our Artists, Teachers, and Outreach program, read our statement here.