Getting down at the King King in Hollywood 2003 - the club where I originally began the work to create CONTRA-TIEMPO/Against the Times

Getting down at the King King in Hollywood 2003 - the club where I originally began the work to create CONTRA-TIEMPO/Against the Times

Going back through my choreography notes… I just found this… thought I should share it – since we DID finish “Full Still Hungry”, and it was one of my favorite works, it’s still a piece that I imagine restaging one day. We were just invited to El Salvador and will be restating a small section of it. Now that I am on the ‘other side’ of the process (for our newest work joyUS justUS) it is incredibly interesting and helpful to see where I came from and where I go sometimes in the messiness and intense anxiety that can be felt inside the making of art… Something I wanted to share: I simultaneously keep two journals: a choreography journal and a journal for free writing. The choreography journal is a mess - sometimes I even fill the pages out of order or start from the back. Sometimes I will write and imagine, and know I have more to wrestle with on this idea, so I leave a few blank pages so I can come back later. Sometimes I come back and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes those pages just get used for new ideas, thoughts or feedback. It’s the way I keep myself in check, being present, not trying to ‘write a book’ from beginning to end, but I use it as an open, living, breathing document that can reflect the mess inside my mind. I take it to rehearsal, write choreography notes in it, plan out large ideas about structure, staging, realizations, questions. It frustrates me how messy it is and how sometimes I can’t find things that I wrote down which then makes me need to re-envision / recreate that original idea or thought. I think I purposely make it this much of a mess so that I don’t become too precious with or lean too much on words. I put it into existence by writing it down and then let it go and if it comes back I know it is resonating. My second journal is a more linear documenting of thoughts and feelings, chronological, one page after another. Sometimes it is just for free writing but it’s much neater, clearer, and I don’t like to skip pages, I like to use a nice pen that writes smoothly (I’ve been known to write with my sons’ crayons in my choreography journal!). We often imagine creating as a process that is about organizing thoughts or ideas - however I think creating is about giving space for all of our messiness to show up - all of it - so we can then have an incredibly rich palate from which we make…

From my choreography journal, Spring of 2011:

“Why am I so frustrated right now – the feeling is like a pressure on my chest – a feeling like I am on the brink of something big – but that it is hidden from me – the idea of creating a phrase right now makes me want to scream or go hide… this isn’t me… am I just tired and feeling overwhelmed or just making a lot out of nothing… this work is going to be epic – but maybe this is the problem – I am trying to make it epic without allowing myself time to be to play, screw up and have fun with it – which HELLO – that is when things emerge that are real – authentic – delicious and… stop judging and questioning and just let be - let flow – Good Orderly Direction of energy – GOD… let it be… please Ana Maria, be patient with yourself…

I am an artist with a lot of ideas and have a support network to help create reality of those ideas

I am an artist whose ideas will make a difference and who will inspire people to ACT

I am an artist who runs towards a challenge

I am an artist who isn’t afraid to fail

I am an artist who succeeds even when I fail – bc I learn and am stronger with every failure

I am an artist who loves life and shares that on stage

I am so frustrated… and that is totally okay “

From my choreography journal, Winter 2018

“I am now in the thick of it – working on joyUS justUS – a piece that is about collectivity, the we instead of the me, a piece that is taking on the radical notion of joy inside of struggle, or even more clearly joy against oppression – because when we talk about the word justice in this country isn’t that what we are really referencing – a notion of justice in a nation built on the genocide of indegnous people, built on the backs of Africans forced into slavery, a nation built on clear articulated and intentional racism , white supremecy and racism – how can we create a piece about justice without first acknowledging these facts. We can’t. And so my attempt to create a piece about joy – needs to start with a bomb . An acknowledgement that we are clear on the context/history/paradigm in which we are working – and that we are clear that we want to create a new narrative a radical fiction that will give us clarity about what is possible, a celebration of our humanity, of our resilience but not a celebration of it to then be complacent – a celebration that has us realize how crucial it is for us to fight, put our bodies on the line, stand up and demand with our every cell, liberation. That is radical joy - a force that will have us feel, understand, and act for our liberation without fear, without judgement, because we are fed by it, nourished, uplifted, gifted and vibrating on a whole other plain as a result. We are startdust…. I am hearing this everywhere we go – the affirmation of our human bodies being intrinsicly linked to the cosmos – that my exhale is your inhale that we are all part of a whole – of infinity – and we forget this on the daily – we act as though hurting you doesn’t also hurt me – that building a society where my privilege isn’t linked to your oppression isn’t possible. US – it’s a crazy thing to try to take on and demands a kind of trust and collaboration that is challenging – that US isn’t me articulating us, but this work needs to be a reflection of each and every artist on the team - that I need to give space in this piece in a way that I never have. I’m not asking for collaboration - I’m asking for a rising up and a deep vulnerability from each of us… it’s a lot to ask and it’s a lot to let go of. I don’t know if I actually have the trust of my dancers, all of my dancers, to create a work like this. There is baggage people are holding on to and I can feel it - it is not going to allow us to do the work. How do I restore this trust, is that even possible? I hope so. I guess this is the fundamental question. Can we heal? I believe we can. I believe in forgiveness, I believe in growth… Damn this definitely isn’t the easy way for sure but what are we doing if we aren’t willing to make that effort? If I trust them they will trust me. Its that true? I sure hope so.”

I’m now on the other side of this process, joyUS justUS has premiered and we are in full touring mode, sharing the work in 6 new communities over the next two months. It’s exciting to see how the work is continuing to challenge our capacity for collaboration, and integrating in an expanding ‘US’ - that the us isn’t only the collaborators but now in each new city we tour, we are including a community altar, 20-50 people who sit on stage and witness the work from the inside out and a community cast, 8-12 people who learn several sections of the work and perform with the company on stage throughout the work. This experience of teaching each new group and having them work with us (to grow, expand, be challenged and challenge us to rethink these different moments in the work) has been inspiring to say the least. The piece has become a way for us to continually work the muscle of connection and trust. I am so present to the power in this way of creating and making… I’m excited see where this work (both the performance and the strengthening of this muscle) takes us!

Community Cast with Charlese & Ana Maria at the September 2018 premiere. USC Visions and Voices

Community Cast with Charlese & Ana Maria at the September 2018 premiere. USC Visions and Voices