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 Tony Nguyen

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


Tell us a little bit about your dance background.
I started dance as a ballroom dancer at 18 years old. I wanted to impress a girlfriend at the time. Over time I became interested in floor work, so I started taking ballet, tap and jazz at American River College. Transferring to CSUS, I officially got introduced to Contemporary/Modern and became hooked. Since, I have danced with Joe Goode Performance Group, Mid to West Dance Collective, Bandaloop, and still take classes at Shawl, Lines, and ODC.

What can audiences look forward to seeing in your work at PUSHfest?
Thoughts and Prayers pushes abstract and literal against one other. The piece opens with abstract images of dancers pushing, pulling, and sliding from an active shooter while injecting the piece with literal gestures that are easily recognizable. While the second half actually projects towards the audience with over-the-top gestures and text to fight through the barrage of information we are constantly overwhelmed.

What are the major sources of inspiration for your choreography
About 2 years ago, I was in a situation where an active shooter was nearby. I was teaching a young 9-11 year old modern class and my first thought was to immediately hide the children. I felt helpless, unsure of what I was capable of handling if the situation spilled into our area. Then a couple months later, I heard the spoken word from In-Q and instantly was taken back to that moment and knew I had to incorporate his powerful words and delivery into a piece. 

If you hadn’t chosen this career, what might you have been doing in your life?
If I am not dancing or choreographing, I am also a photographer. But if dance did not exist at all, I’d probably be following the family rule of either a doctor, lawyer, or business man. 

What advice would you pass on to an aspiring choreographer?
My advice for aspiring choreographers would be to always ask yourself, “Why?” Why are you choosing to create something and to dig deep into yourself to find the reason. Know that not all work will be amazing and that honing your craft takes time. Be open to others input, but also stand up for your work. Lastly, always distill your work down to what it needs to be, you can create hours and hours of material but only use 10 minutes of it to truly say something. 

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