On the series: Voices del Camino is our series of stories and reflections from the company, while on tour. El camino, in Spanish, literally means "the road"; but el camino is also the journey that we're on towards witnessing, creating, and sharing the beauty and complexity of humanity, and towards transforming our world through love and movement.
Bentonville, AR | [Formerly] Undocumented and [Now] Unafraid, by Isis Avalos
We performed Agua Furiosa at the incredibly beautiful Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, as part of their series, “The Art American Dance”. The performance itself was in a very intimate setting that was practically floating over water (very fitting for Agua's theme!).
After the performance we had our post- show Q&A. A man sitting in the second row with his children beside him asked the first question, and it was directed towards me. He said he noticed that my character (Caliban 2) was going through turmoil, and he saw glimpses of water, but he also wanted to know if there were other stories connected to this character. Ana Maria passed the microphone to me and I all of the sudden felt nervous—not because of the idea of speaking, but because of WHAT I was going to speak about.
I introduced myself by stating that I was an undocumented child brought into the U.S. by my parents when I was 7 years old, and because of that, there was a direct connection between ‘the wall’ of buckets and the pedestal that my character stands on. I mentioned how, ironically, when Ana Maria originally created this piece just two years ago, the phrase of ‘building a wall’ was not as big of a topic of conversation in America as it is now. And since I, like many others brought to the U.S. as young children, identify as Americans because we were raised here, we are now fighting against this wall just as Caliban 2 is in Agua Furiosa.
In that moment I felt bold and proud to have said that publicly and in a way that the audience could connect to Caliban 2 but also to MY humanity as a Mexican-American immigrant. Once the Q&A was finished I had a group of young women come up to me and thank for me sharing my story about being undocumented. I thanked them for accepting my story because it validates my existence in this country (internally, I felt touched and was choking up). I stared at them smiling and they stared right back at me. It’s those moments when you get quiet and you both understand the connection – no words are needed. That is humanity. This was the last show of Agua Furiosa in 2016. The year started off by me not mentioning my once-undocumented status, but now that IS how I introduce myself.
I realized that who I am, has everything to do with the way I dance and why I dance. Agua Furiosa is politically (environmentally- racially) driven and it is also very personal. I think it is necessary now more than ever to be ‘a voice’ for those who have similar stories to mine in order to give permission for others to share theirs. I am thankful to be given the platform to be unafraid to tell my story.