Fall 2021 In Dance


NAVIGATING A CAREER in a Eurocentric, White-centralizing, contemporary dance world as a lesbian Latinx woman of mixed Indigenous blood never felt complicated until it started to. Before my exploration into non-Eurocentric dance, I operated through a lens shaped by my Western dance education, a profound education, but one that only allowed me to envision a very limited contemporary dance career. It wasn’t until I began to practice non-Western dance and trace my Indigenous ancestral lineage that was lost due to colonization that I found that lens no longer served me.

As I dissect my Western dance training, I am left with more questions than answers. Why was there such a lack of cultural and Indigenous dance studies throughout my dance education? Would I have sought my ancestral lin- eage sooner had a door been open to me in my dance schooling? Why is it my job, as an individual and person of color, to find my own way out of this limited, dance culture? I continue to find myself maneuvering through this unlearning and relearning process, a rewarding pro- cess that has also revealed the ways that, throughout my dance education, White Eurocentric Westernized dance was normalized as the standard and the forms of dance outside of this standard were considered “other.” I chose to pursue my BFA in Dance and Choreography at Calarts where we would touch on these “other” dance forms in our dance history class. But the majority of the Calarts curriculum was spent studying choreographers

like Isadora Duncan, Merce Cunningham, Mark Morris, and Pina Bausch. These pioneers of modern dance were given extensive class time with hours’ worth of films, articles, books, and discussions. I studied the essentials of a broad modern dance repertoire with techniques that included Limón, Release, Horton, and Graham. At the time, I was blind to the erasure of cultural and Indig- enous dance in our dance curriculum. Naturally, I left Calarts wanting to fulfill a dance agenda that reflected this dance discipline created through and by White indi- viduals. Upon graduation, my peers and I were encour- aged to push the boundaries of dance and create thought provoking work, but only within a construct built around Eurocentric dance.

38 This construct would prevent me from finding my own ancestral dance lineage for years to come. I spent the majority of my dance career creating a subconscious MY ROOTS OF MOVEMENT FALL 2021 in dance 39

in dance FALL 2021 38

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