Winter 2022 In Dance

and depleting. Looking around, most of the Bay Area’s institutional arts leadership posi- tions are held by white artists who have deeper pockets of resources and I don’t have the same building blocks to lean on. What I do have is overwhelming optimism. It turns some people off, but as a person of color, it’s my survival skill. I need to believe my glass is half full, or else I’d probably stop working as a choreographer. My tenacity is powered by the support I get from Dancing Around Race and the dancers and artists I collaborate with; whenever I come ‘home’ artistically, I feel nourished, and the stings of my disappointments feel a little less tender. My creative appreciation and sustenance come from BIPOC artists who elevate sto- ries not usually seen physically narrated in concert dance. My eyes well up, I laugh, and feelings of magical connectivity and psychic messaging feel alive in the bodies on stage, and I feel seen even though I am the one actively viewing. THANK YOU. The directors, leaders, funders, and panel- ists who Secret Santa me with opportunities, jobs, and grants: THANK YOU. But optimism can have a double-edged sword. I can keep hoping and lying down with my palms up in a full pranam pose, waiting for the universal magic to deliver to me, but I know I am missing my reciprocal responsibility of our community agreement - we are in a perpetual group Secret Santa that functions outside of seasons. We don’t have to give each person a gift, but if we all give a gift to someone, someone marginalized or whose narrative isn’t seen regularly, then everyone gets lifted up - equity is elevated for our field, for the LOVE OF DANCE! It’s less about everyone being uplifted, and more about generosity and working against the scarcity ingrained into our training. Our dances exist in a complex ecosystem and they need to be tended through multi-symbi- otic relationships, not just binary ones. So lately, I am swelling with the need to become the Santa our field needs. I’m saying yes to being a panelist at every opportunity and even joined the Izzies Committee. Being from our diverse dance community,

I can explain why culturally specific dances produced for intentional audiences aren’t exclusive, gently push my equity agenda, and advocate for BIPOC artists whether they are working on owning their spaces, producing work/large festivals, or getting general operat- ing funds! Sometimes I feel disheartened on a panel, like when my own child accuses me of being a ‘reverse racist’ but I also know peo- ple have my back. As my White Husbear ally gently reminds our daughter, I am correct in calling out Whiteness. Carrying that support, I quickly ease back into feeling believed. She doesn’t need to get canceled for challenging my opinion but we all need to work on being open to new points of view. As I write this and sip a holiday bevy, I’m growing my sym- bolic Santa momentum full of regenerative energy and immune health while hopefully keeping my dancerly shape getting ready for my next performance season center stage as dance Santa. Santa has to be a simple pledge we take for one another, not just for a season. As Ariana Grande sings: Oh, I wanna have him beside me like oh-oh-oh On the 25th by the fireplace, oh-oh-oh But I don’t want a new broken heart This year I’ve got to be smart. Let’s be smart, be there for each other and I promise this Santa, Yayoi Santa/aka Ms. Kam- bara-Claus, will be there for you after the holi- day season. I’m ready to celebrate you and our community with sympathetic joy – always. YAYOI KAMBARA (she/her) From 2003-15, she was a mem- ber with ODC/Dance and most recently performed with Dance Brigade. While occasionally still performing Kambara focuses on choreography and directing including move- ment direction for contemporary opera. In 2019/20 she led a Community Engagement Residency for HMD’s Bridge Project, Aesthetic Shift, an exchange between dance educators, social justice activists, and choreographers to interrogate the over- lap between equity values, creative practices, and organiza- tion. Kambara was in the 4th Cohort of the APAP Leadership Fellows Program and is a member of Dancing Around Race. Her project IKKAI means once: a transplanted pilgrim- age is commissioned by the San Jose Japanese American Citizens League and premiers in 2023.

My tenacity is powered by the support I get from Dancing Around Race and the danc- ers and artists I collaborate with; whenever I come ‘home’ artistically, I feel nourished, and the stings

of my disap- pointments feel a little less tender.


in dance WINTER 2022 38

WINTER 2022 in dance 39




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In Dance | May 2014 |

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