I met with loveDANCEmore artist-in-residence Stephanie García to talk about the upcoming panel, Moving Forward Together: Latinx, Hispanic, and Chicanx Artists in Conversation. It will be this Sunday, Sept 25th at 5:00pm on the Spyhop Rooftop. You can RSVP to attend here.
How did organizing this panel start? Where did the momentum come from?
I had an assignment in my graduate program [at the University of Utah], I was doing some brief research … Something I noticed was, specifically in the history of modern and contemporary dance, there is a lack of documentation regarding Latinx and Chicanx dance influence. I am very interested in who is writing the history of contemporary dance in the U.S. Then that summer I met David Herrera at a program through National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC). We both attended the NALAC Leadership Institute, and David runs this newsletter that is open to all Latinx, Chicanx and Hispanic artists across the country to share what they are doing. David was wanting to launch a conference through this work but he wasn’t sure where to have it. I was thinking about it and I thought maybe we can do something here.
We were trying to think about how we can create that network. Also because Salt Lake City is very isolated. There is a big Latinx, Chicanx and Hispanic community here and it’s still very isolated and segregated. There are clear signs of that when you look at the specific areas of the city … we are growing in separate realities. The dance dynamics that are happening here are really amazing but you don’t know about other dance styles. There is the Living Traditions festival but other than that we have no idea that these diverse communities are here. So I was kind of interested in addressing that with this panel as well … to meet each other and to know what the others are doing and to see that our needs are very similar.
When you say community what are you referring to specifically?
“We are a lot of communities. Latinx, Chicanx and Hispanic communities are not just one thing, we are a lot of different communities. [The focus of this panel specifically is] having a local organization in the dance community that embraces this other Latinx, Chicanx and Hispanic community and People of Color as well as their own diverse dance communities within.
What can people expect from the panel? What are you hoping people will walk away with?
I expect people to feel identified. The histories and individuals that identify with these communities have very similar stories. Even if you didn’t have to cross the border to come here, maybe your parents did or your grandparents did. Or people like me. There are very different stories but the reasons underneath that are mainly the same. It is very personal but it has to do with the effects of colonization and how a country like the United States and the other first economies of the world have harmed a lot of the countries of South America or Africa or Asia. The common denominator is People of Color. [This panel] talks about history, it talks about racism, it talks about oppression. Lots of people decided to come here because of the harm done to their cultures. It feels very contradictory for me. I am coming to a country that has harmed so much of my own and my culture to look for better opportunities. Because there are no opportunities down there. And that is tough. What I see is that they have made people feel like they don’t belong here. So it is easy to doubt about your own identity. And dance can provide people with a sense of identity and self. It sounds obvious that we have been through that but by sharing it we know we are not alone. It gives us strength to keep doing what we do. I expect that this will help people see a little past their immediate environment. This will help people with their own practice by making connections and sharing resources. I believe this will be beneficial for everyone.
The phrase “the political consequences of art making” is in the summary of the event. Can you elaborate more on what that means to you?
Dance is a social dimension. It is a microscopic reflection of what’s happening in society. That’s why I was both surprised and also not surprised that there are no names of these creators and choreographers, with very few exceptions, in the books of contemporary dance. That’s how people of these communities are considered. They are important but they are not. They are fundamental for the work of the country but they are not. [The U.S.] doesn’t want them to be part of the formal economy but [the U.S.] wants them to keep being the workforce. And it is not only within this community, it is part of their experiences, it’s very common. What are the contributions of these communities in the city? And that has an influence on the art making and dance making.”
Stephanie García will be moderating the panel this Sunday, Sept 25th at the Spyhop Rooftop. You can RSVP here. Everyone is welcome to come and participate, the focus is not to restrict the participation of others. We aim to lift the voices of the people of the latinx/chicanx/hispanic community. The goal of this conversation is to get to know who’s here and “to open our eyes a little bit past our immediate environment”.
Stephanie has co-founded this space in partnership with David Herrera, who is the co-founder of Latinx Hispanic Dancers United (LHDU). Originally from Mexico City, Stephanie García is a performer, choreographer, cultural manager, producer, and co-founder and co-Director of Punto de Inflexión Dance Company. She is currently an MFA candidate and Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Modern Dance program at the University of Utah.
Guest speakers will also include Fanny Blauer, Paola Cespedez Caba, Fausto Rivera and Karina Villalba.
This article is published in collaboration with loveDANCEmore.org.
Arin Lynn is a movement artist, multimedia artist, and hoosier based in Salt Lake City. They have recently had the pleasure of working with local organizations such as Finch Lane Flash Projects, 12 Minutes Max, and Queer Spectra Arts Festival. Outside of art, Arin enjoys fried food and collecting vinyls.