Slender-White on Dancing at Home and Abroad

Slender-White on Dancing at Home and Abroad

CSW in Melbourne

(Photo by Gregory Lorenzutti)

As you all well know by now, community lies at the heart of all we do at FACT/SF. Together, our artists and advocates, fans and friends, make our work and make our work possible. And, though the Bay Area is home, our impact reaches far beyond our region – across the state, the country, North America, and many diverse regions around the world. The FACT/SF perspective is simultaneously local and global, and our 2016 programming highlights this robust and broad work.

Our most recent creation, (dis)integration, involved in-depth research in Bulgaria and Serbia. I travelled to the Balkans to study history, culture, and politics, and to gain a better understanding of the relationships between the region’s Roma and non-Roma populations. Interviews back home with my father and grandparents connected me to their 20th century histories in Sonoma County and Los Angeles, and contextualized for me what it means to be a descendant of a largely invisible, non-white immigrant community.

I’ve just returned from a month in Melbourne, which reconnected me with American and European colleagues, and introduced me to Countertechnique dancers and teachers from New Zealand, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Taiwan, and Canada. Though we all spoke English with each other, the exchange of culture and information went far beyond any one language or tradition. It is true that the dancing body, in all its glory, transcends man-made borders and boundaries.

Now back home, this week’s FACT/SF Summer Dance Lab has convened 24 folks from across the United States, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, and Austria to share and learn together. We got off to a sweaty start yesterday, and will continue to fly and fall, twist and turn over the next four days.

And, with JuMP 2016 just one week away, FACT/SF will again realize its commitment to supporting local art and local artists. Katerina Wong, our 2016 JuMP Choreographer, has created a stunning and universal (guys, it’s literally about the universe) work about the Voyager Golden Record, aspirations, space exploration, and human connection. Liane Burns and I have co-choreographed our first installment of Platform, which also takes on questions of humanity and humanness by looking at the homogenizing effects of modern technology. Liane and I will continue our work this fall in Bulgaria, and premiere the complete work in June 2017.

It’s an incredible gift to get to work within such a supportive environment, and to play a role in cultivating understanding and critical thought through dance. I remember having a conversation with my dad about 15 years ago, when he was asking me why I wanted to pursue a career in dance. At the time, I shared with him an untested idea which I now know to be true, “The cool thing about dance is that it happens everywhere, in all cultures, with all bodies. Dance can be fun or serious, reverent or subversive. Dance can bring people together, dance can challenge, dance can inspire.”

I hope you all will join us next week for JuMP 2016 – to have two new dance experiences, to spend time together, to support the FACT/SF team, and to indulge just a bit in the power of art and community. The FACT/SF work, mission, and dream continues!


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