Wednesday, August 20, 2014

reflections from this oasis...

Here we are - a week and a half after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO - and since I started working here at the Beach House - the racial tension in our country has continued to escalate and rightly so - as the repeated and recorded police brutality seems to be spreading, and a disregard for and cracking down on people's right to assemble and protest has become common place - it feels in some ways surreal to find myself in this place surrounded by such beauty - open expansion of space and possibility - while the world around me feels like it is on fire. The Beach House feels like an oasis of space that I have been gifted to think about some pretty complex and difficult ideas - but this space is proving to be exactly what I need to get clarity before launching a year of creating, conversing and engaging those around me to think, dance, talk, move through all of what we and generations before us have carried and continue to pass on around race, color and privilege... 

I have spent some of this week so far moving, but a lot of the week has been spent in a space of reflection, thinking, writing, engaging in conversations with other artists - questioning... what does it mean to be making work right now about race? Who am I and what role can I play to help facilitate honest, open and compassionate conversations about race - as a Cuban American, as a woman, as a person of color that has in my life learned to slide in and out of 'passing as white' how can I acknowledge the privilege from where I come and use that as a way to impact and move this conversation forward - to change the narrative and bring new empowering narratives and counter narratives that will help to build a world of not just racial tolerance but better than that - a future where my own son won't have to fear for his life when walking down the street with his friends...  As the swell of 'ain't gunna take it no more' - 'no justice no peace' is palpable - I am becoming more excited to create and scared to create this work - which I imagine is a good thing. I always tell my students and dancers to run towards the fear - now I get to practice what I am preachin'.  As someone who grew up in a family (I am the child of two labor union activists) that taught me to never stand by and be complacent when I see or experience personally injustice - this piece has feels urgent but also extremely uncomfortable - good. That means I am moving in the right direction. 

This week we taught a Salsa class of over 50 people at the beach house and I am excited to have one of dancers come out and 'play' with me and explore some of these ideas via movement on Friday. If we were all able to live and be who we are in the dance - if we could take those principals of compassionate partnership, listening, pushing back, engaging, patience and persistence - into our everyday lives - I know we could build a more beautiful and just world... I know it. I feel it. 

No, no we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. - Martin Luther King 

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