Winter 2022 In Dance

underfunded as is most of the city. So check your privilege before you decide to complain about something about the city.” Because truly, every city we’ve gone to, someone has a problem with it. It’s just, it’s unnecessary. Like, we’re visitors. We are visitors to every- body’s city. Veronica: It took a lot of consider- ation of whether or not to include this, as there could be repercussions presenting the tour in this way. I am fully enjoying my time on tour, with the cast, traveling the country AND I recognize these issues within my cast and production company, issues which I plan to bring up at the aforementioned work- shop. The public acknowledgment of this itself – the debate of “Should I redact this?”– speaks to, “if not us, who? If not now, when?” It is the silencing fear of white supremacist structures at work, “work” here the environment that allows me to live my dream of performing song and dance. RF: Yeah. I think you’re like, also naming things that I’m feeling as well, which is one: the exhaustion of like, feeling like, we’re catching up or other people are still catching up. But also I’m still catching up and– and the world is moving. We’re not post-pandemic in any way. But, like the pacing of just like that constant navigation of like, running and then slowing down, is exhausting. Yeah. And then also, both of us are in new communities right now—you’re on tour, and I’m in a new state in grad school. And that has been really diffi- cult for me. And I’m sure like a transi- tion for you as well that you’re talking about a little bit but— Veronica: It’s been a while since I’ve been in a predominantly white work- space surrounded by predominantly cis-white people. I don’t *want* to be

in the messiness and incompleteness of our thoughts, we actively engage in our own offering: documenting ourselves in a way contrary to what whiteness demands. We show up here in draft–potentially nonlinear, unpolished, incoherent, unpalatable– and will continue to show up in that way for each other and our commu- nities. This practice is what is so cru- cial to the process of undoing white supremacy as it shows up in our text messages, Zooms, hair, courtrooms, streets, friendships, gossip, institu- tions, and articles. In doing so, we commit to the gentleness and grace necessary to build community and a sense of belonging. REBECCA FITTON is from many places. She cultivates community through movement, food, and conversation. Her work in the dance field as an artist, researcher, administrator, and advocate focuses on arts and culture policy, labor practices, and community-led advocacy. Her practice takes shape in studios, basements, warehouses, bars, grocery stores, rooftops, gardens, sidewalks, and streets. She served on Dance/NYC’s Junior Committee from 2018-2020 and was selected to join Dance/ USA’s Institute of Leadership Training in 2021. She is an active member of the Bridge Collective and Dance Artists’ National Collective. Fitton holds a BFA in Dance from Florida State Univer- sity and is currently pursuing an MA in Perfor- mance as Public Practice at the University of Texas at Austin. Born on the unceded native land of the Kusso (Charleston, SC), VERONICA JIAO (she/her/ hers) is a Filipino-American dance creative and educator. As the grandchild of immigrants, she is engaged in the work of ending white suprem- acist structures in the arts and our bodies, by archiving the Asian-American experience. Her creative practice renders this work in the form of dance improvisation, facilitating critical conversation, and writing. As a former member of Dance/NYC’s Junior Committee, Veronica co-facilitates and organizes discussions for equity and inclusion in the dance field through many mediums, including various episodes of the Dance Union podcast, Dance Magazine’s online archives, and social media. As a perform- er, she has danced with BABEL Movement, Josh Pacheco Dance Theater, Thomas Woodman, and Disney Cruise Line.

the voice that is always holding folks accountable both in management and within the cast, I don’t feel that is my place, and oftentimes, I don’t bring things up in order to protect my peace, unless it affects or will affect in the future a person’s safe- ty physically/mentally/emotionally. It has been exhausting navigating the nuances of being a non-black POC on a tour celebrating the first black actress in the lead role, in a white-run workplace. Here I must acknowledge that not all BIPOC are involved in restorative justice or want to be for various valid reasons, especially in theater spaces. Every- one plays the system differently. If I raise an issue that is inequitable in our workplace, I am conscious of how much space I’m taking up as a non-black POC as well as consid- ering and conspiring with my Black colleagues: will this prevent them from dismantling white supremacist structures the way they feel is safest for them? Where is the line between “playing the system” and complicity as a pawn? Rebecca : In reflection, I realized I never finished my sentence. I never explained to whom/what/where I’m “catching up.” I’ll echo Veron- ica’s reflection that it has been a while since I’ve been in a predom- inately white space. In my previ- ous home of New York City, I was surrounded by folks who shared various aspects of my own identi- ties: queer, Asian, English, BIPOC, immigrant, mixed-race, neurodiver- gent, artist, advocate. To be more explicit, I hold my whiteness and Asianness as two complete identi- ties, I am responsible and joyful for both. In this new environment, I feel isolated in my body, in that joy. The university feels like steel pressed against the soft curves of my non- conforming body. It’s a kind of casu- al violence executed through oper- ational procedure. I feel the need to

And also sometimes painful, but like to not be messy is not to be like, it doesn’t have the negative connotation in my head. VJ: Yes, I said, I said in the prep document something about the fact that we’ve had many conversations adjacent to the inquiry of, if not us, then who? yeah, so many, that it’s hard to pinpoint or streamline at all. Yeah. This thing? What does it mean for communities to own their own archives?

less related to systemic….Well, I guess it is related to systemic inequity, but like, even having some of those like conversations on record, like, how will that change? And I don’t know where I’m going with that question. Rebecca : Whew that was messy. The brain fog makes it hard to string coherent sentences together. What I am trying to wrap my mind around is how gossip and text, two informal conversation practices, can create an archive that is self-directed. For so long, the choice of whose experiences enter an archive and the prac- tice of archiving stories have been dominated by whiteness. Systemic inequity is perpetuated by a lack of diverse representation, but I am not looking for my representation to mirror what is currently the sta- tus quo. I want to contribute to the documentation of my experience. I think this article is a form of that resistance practice. VJ: Gossip as a form of oral history, hell yeah. RF: Yeah. Or it’s like archive build- ing and working against the ways in which white people tell us we should document our history. VJ: Yes, that part. Yeah, also, because gossip is like, not all– again, not linear. And not–It doesn’t have to be chronological. Which is another forced way, or a way that is forced on us of documenting. RF: I had this conversation with someone yesterday about being a mixed-race person. In what ways do I choose to like, be clear about my history and document? And in what ways do I like purposely obscure because being mixed race is really messy. And so the archive should be really messy. Yeah. And like messy in a delightful way and joyful way.

explain my body into what insti- tutionalism demands and resist the urge. I’m “catching up” with the university’s complicit behavior of “falling behind.” The constant negotiation is exhausting. I’m also tired of folks saying “well, Austin is different” when inquir- ing about what it is like to live in Texas right now. To me, it signals a certain kind of white passivity that allows white folks to forget that “liberal” cities still exist within the embrace of state and federal laws. Yes, Austin holds a popu- lar connotation as “weird,” which recently has been interpreted as a form of inclusivity. But, that has not been my experience thus far as a newcomer, and I will not and cannot forget the systemic injus- tices that still exist in and around this “weird” town.

RF: You know, one of my favor- ite things about you is just like the whole-hearted, fully loving like, pres- ence of gossip in your life. Yeah. That I just like so highly shy away from because I’m socialized differently

We are proud of our naps and we also want to acknowledge the strug- gle to produce concrete deliverables right now! This piece was very diffi- cult for us to co-write because of the aforementioned exhaustion and we knew each other’s emotional energy was being sapped by our respective environments. We really had to let go of the idea of a “polished look” and ask ourselves how whiteness was showing up even in this most inti- mate process between two friends. We almost backed out of publishing before realizing what we needed was to shape this offering through our feelings. The amount of times we say “messy,” in and about this conver- sation served as our center. By living

VJ: I love gossip, and that is highly Filipino of me.

RF: I know it is.

I also think like the presence of gos- sip, it’s like what we— like setting up this conversation has been very hard for us because we mostly text, right. But we have this whole thing about like, how are we archiving our own stories and oral history as archive and gossip as archive, or like archive building practice? And that’s maybe


in dance WINTER 2022 52

WINTER 2022 in dance 53




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In Dance | May 2014 |

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