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

#theRona Chronicles | with Scott Horton

#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.

Piece appears here courtesy of Scott Horton, PUSH Publicist

Archibald Motley, Dr. King, Gandhi, Maya Angelou, Eduardo Galeano, Zora Neale Hurston, Mr. Rogers and the Dalai Lama walk into a quarantine . . .

Yeah, so it sounds like a wise-cracking set-up for a joke but, refreshingly, it is not. Each of these change-agents, and others, has been a virtual visitor to my place and a partner in my time as I shelter like everyone else.

Photo: Terry Lorant

My musician/baker friend Dan Greenspan from Vermont mentioned in a Zoom meeting earlier this week that our current circumstances represent a golden opportunity for us to undertake the kinds of self-transformations that are needed if we want to create positive change in our communities and in our country.

Many of our usual habits have been broken for us by shelter-in-place orders. Many of us have more time at home and look for ways to occupy it. This is, of course, not true for parents and essential workers, medical professionals, those who grow, harvest and deliver our food, etc. Their time that otherwise might be “free” is filled by caring for others, by public service and by occupations the rest of us rely on now more than ever, and for them I am deeply grateful and appreciative.

For those of us who do have or can find time, as Dan pointed out, we have a chance to intentionally change our conduct and enhance our characters leading to higher consciousness and other-interestedness (thank you, Dr. King).

To this end, I have been trying to choose things to do that don’t just fill (kill?) time but make me more awake, connected and of use. I am spending more time unplugged from distractions and engaging in things like reading, study, being in touch with and helping others. I am choosing carefully what news I consume and limit the time I spend reading, viewing and worrying about it.

I am focusing on news about hope, success and forward motion—there is actually a lot of it now–that supports, empowers and uplifts people in balance with stories about injustice and outrage. Hope and anger both motivate action.

I am being politically active—responding to the census, making sure I and others are registered to vote, getting to know my elected officials better and communicating with them more frequently, signing petitions, supporting non-profit arts, culture and social service organizations.

I am not giving up completely on diversions—I am watching my share of movies and video, reading novels, Youtube grazing, and participating on social media. But I am actively applying the brakes to turn the lumbering pleasure cruise of entertainment and distractions about in service of personal growth and connectedness.

As the leaders I listed above have joined me in my isolation, here’s what they have given and taught me:

Archibald Motley: Use your creative practice to get to know yourself, your world and define your joyously expansive place.

Dr. King: Hope drives social change. It is important to stay awake and not protect the status quo during times of social upheaval.

Gandhi: The classic: “As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him…. We need not wait to see what others do.”

Maya Angelou: Our voices are important. They lift us and others up. Find your voice, use it and keep using it.

Eduardo Galeano: It is important that we tell our stories and not let others tell them for us. Some of our stories are as small as our kitchen and some are as big as revolutions. Tell your own story–context is empowerment.

Zora Neale Hurston: Keep culture alive even as others work to bury it.

Mr. Rogers: “Look for the helpers.” In times of crisis, Mr. Rogers famously pointed out that no matter how desperate and chaotic the world gets, there are always people helping. Look to them for inspiration and hope. And, if you don’t know what to do—be like them.

The Dalai Lama: “The purpose of life is to be happy.”

I hope all members of the PUSH Dance Company community and your own families, friends, neighbors and communities find ways to fulfill this life purpose during this time of change and opportunity.

Scott Horton is a non-profit communications consultant who helps artists and audiences find each other.

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.