Performance is a Promise

Most recently, I have regarded performance as “the promise of another day,” and yet within that manifestation I forgot to say, “performance is the promise of a BETTER day” rather than any given day, and now that I am deep into the work of creating my own Popol Vuh through dance do I realize the importance of specificity.


My Stars @ 24th & Mission Anton Smith + Zari Le’on

So, there we are deep in the story about how the Mayans created stars, and how earthquakes and mountains were used to crush arrogant gods and whatnot. The moderns + ancients is what I am treading upon through this work, and the work is cutting, metaphoric, specific, ethereal, profane, and found no better home than at the Festival of Latin American Contemporary Choreographer’s showcase. In the first performance of “My Stars” with myself, SPULU and Lisa Light, we managed to go there with a Black Lives Matter type of performance. At least, that is what the read was from the audience’s perspective. I am a mixed bag when it comes to #blacklivesmatter. Firstly, I cannot stand for hashtag activism, and yet when I see people’s vitriolic reactions to the concept I think that perhaps it is needed to create space for something other than black lives not mattering at all.

In the following three performances of “My Stars” that theme was shucked in favor of more archetypal images. Anton Smith and I threw change at people, cavorted with trees, stole chalk from little children, so it was fun in a very dark sort of way, and the revelation is that these particular gods, Hunahpu and Xbalanque were nothing short of DSC_8480astounding.

I am not saying that I am losing my religion to pre-Colonial frightening ideas of be-headings and blood sacrifice, but I am trying to get to know on a visceral level that is based in legend, the beautiful Mayan folk, my people… Which brings me to another treacherous, hateful theme that popped up: the big, dirty question, “Who is Mexican?” I never had a problem with that. In fact, I firmly believe that growing up with a Mexican Grandmother makes me Mexican. All of the contradictions. All of the intense care about making sure that the heart is calm. All of the chili, whether she wanted to remember how to make it or not. All of that… remembering.



Invisibility is the theme that these movements around identity try to overcome, but overcoming self-hatred does not happen when I stew in it. It only happens when I rise above it. Identity politics have become so boring and narrow. “Mexican Immigrant” this, “Black Slave” that, “White Hipster” blah. It is almost as if categorization helps us become visible, but invisibility is not my problem because I will continue to be dancing, writing, teaching in spite of the affiliations of time.



Next up: stories of Hunahpu & Xbalanque in the Popol Vuh continue and I continue to do awesome dances with my awesome friends, so the day promised is pretty damn cool.



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