you excluded anyone existing out- side the Eurocentric standards of beauty from participating in a sexy piece? Do you remember allowing the darker skinned dancers to par- ticipate in only the “ratchet” piece, but then excluding them from every- thing else? How, if you were trained in ballet or modern, you were cast in more pieces, regardless if it called for the technique or not? At the end of the day, we weren’t dancers to you. We were tools to build your visions and to have them come to life, and nothing more. And at the end of the day, I realized we grew up to become the bitter pro- fessors we despised for putting us in small boxes. I think it’s easy to be angry and frustrated with the mascots of colo- nization. In fact I feel ashamed call- ing them mascots. These are people who think they’re right. These are people who’ve had these behaviors and ideas passed down onto them, and for years, these ideas have sat and stewed in their minds as normal and correct. And I understand the horror of being wrong, corrected, and challenged. I remember when I harshly criti- cized a middle aged woman during class in front of everyone. I remem- ber using childish and sexist jokes while teaching to seem likable. I remember thinking having a success- ful quarter meant having a set with clean and entertaining choreography. It’s sad to say the colonization and the ideas of Eurocentric standards of beauty are well ingrained in all of us. However, it takes someone will- ing to challenge all of these ideas to show that the “colonizers way” isn’t the only way. In my last couple of quarters at De Anza. I stayed with the dance pro- gram simply because I had the gracious honor of growing with one professor . He took over the stu- dent-run dance class in my last cou- ple of quarters at De Anza, and in fact, he was the reason I decided to
come back to dance again and again. I remember the professor that challenged the standards everyday in almost every way he existed. I remember him telling us that dance is valuable, regardless whether or not it’s consumable for mainstream media. I remember him telling us that each dancer can choose to be in any piece they way, regardless of their gender or appearance. I remem- ber him making our shows and per- formances free so it was more acces- sible. I remember this professor welcoming in everyone wanting to learn dance, regardless if they had the money to enroll in the class. I’ve sat and pondered for years now how we were going to uproot and change the dance scene. That question was way too big for me to answer, so I thought about just our little community in De Anza. Our class was carefully curated by some- one that made dance free,equal, and accessible. For every horrible, abusive thing I can remember experiencing at my college’s dance program, I also remember the good one person can do by thinking of everyone. When we think of everyone, and accept everyone for who they are, free of the confines of colonization, that’s what a person will remember. Unfortunately, there’s only so much one person can do when the entire system works against them. Year after year, our student-ran dance class had to fight against the yearly budget cuts that took class after class. In the end, those who I remember the most, those who bring me the most comfort in the realm of dance, were those who helped us live out our dream of having dance exist free of colonial constraints. Thank you, I remember you. Practitioner, healer and artist TING uses their art as visual/oral storytelling like their ancestors, instilling a holistic and spiritual approach to all dance forms. With a long history of involvement in the ancestral arts, and fine arts, Ting’s wants to create safe spaces for all artists and ancestral practitioners.
3. D ance 236 – Folklore of Dance: African-Haitian 4. Dance 263 – Ballet II 5. D ance 276 – Modern Jazz II 6. D ance 399 – University Dance Theatre 7. D ance 434 – Dance Com- position: Choreography II 8. D ance 474 – Modern Dance IV While other institutions that I have studied at are a far cry from the options given even within the the span of just a semester at SFSU, it is clear that as a whole Euro- centric dance styles, along with American dance styles that were codified through the stealing and erasure of Black and Brown Indige- nous cultures they often try to emulate, are favored over “Folk Dance.” The continued erasure of Black and Brown culture
Shadow Dancer: Indigenous Dance in Higher Education An Open Letter To Higher Education,
can be seen in the classroom when one notices that the majority of the bod- ies filling the space are White and it will not be accepted nor will I remain complacent. This open letter is not just that, it is a call to action and a demand that Higher Education as well as grade school make a conscious effort to cre- ate safe spaces for Black and Brown dancers through representation in the form of class options, professors, and performance opportunities.
has chosen to both utilize Eurocen- tric dance styles as core dance tech- nique but has also made a clear delin- eation between “Folk Dance,” and “Classical Technique Courses.” I may be presumptuous but, it seems that even European folk dance is lifted to a higher platform than that of the Black and Brown Diaspora. H that is a con- versation for another time. As the caretakers of each individ- ual within the college community, do you not feel you have an obligation to create open safe spaces for Black and Brown students of higher education through course curriculum and rep- resentation? While my current home college has made it a point to include Black and Brown representation in dance There is also the enormous task of decentralizing Eurocentric ideas, dance techniques, and ideolo- gies around staged performance. Intu- itive Dance which is often an integral part of Indigenous dance often utilizes improvised movements and should
be acceptable forms of performance even when on the stage. The idea taught in higher education that staged performances must be codified in its entirety further distances the Black and Brown student and artist from the hopes of ever being able to share their works with the larger overlap- ping communities. As a student at San Francisco State University, I have been extremely humbled to find a dance depart- ment that embraces cultural diver- sity through amazing professors that find importance in centering Indige- nous, Black, Brown, Queer represen- tations within dance but there is still so much work to do even at a school that is as progressive as San Fran- cisco State. Below is a list of pro- posed classes for the Spring of 2022 at SFSU: 1. Dance 173 – Modern Dance 1 2. Dance 208 – Cultural History of Dance
My name is Agpalo Alongi Makinta, born Brandin Josue Alvarez, son of Tamika Henry and Christopher Alva- rez, grandson of Joyce Henderson, Frank Henry, Flora Josue, and Ceferino Alvarez, great grandson of Teodoro Alvarez, Justina Devytiaco, Perfecto Josue, Cergia Maquinta, Frank Henry Sr., Millie Daniels, Jethro Henderson, and Irene Oliphant. Through ancestral dance I have found strength. However, during my time both in grade school and higher education, I have seen very few of the caricatures that I have grown so famil- iar with, having grown up around peers who were culture bearers prac- ticing cultural resistance. I have found myself disillusioned with a dance community and college system that
Agyamanak Unay, Agpalo Alongi Makinta
ARCHIE ARBOLEDA is a Young Adult fiction writer with the goal of adding more queer asian nar- ratives to the bookshelf. As a queer Pinoy voice, Arthur hopes to bridge the gaps in his culture with tradition and transformative action. In 2015-2018 Arthur co-directed De Anza’s Dance department alongside Warren Lucas in hopes to create an equitable space for dancers. Archie created a non-profit dance organization to reach youth in need of accessibility in dance.
in dance WINTER 2022 44
WINTER 2022 in dance 45
In Dance | May 2014 | dancersgroup.org
u n i f y s t r e n g t h e n amp l i f y u n i f y s t r e n g t h e n a p l i f y
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