A few words to describe the experience of doing the play this year
Hopeful, joy, and freedom
I felt hopeful when I saw the kids embrace difficult topics in a creative way, but I felt like they were also hopeful about our future and they were hopeful that if we work together we would go a long way. And they did that through movement and their delivery and their commitment to the play: they came together and helped one another and supported one another. It was very evident that they were supporting one another even on stage when they were performing.
I think the cypher was super fun and that it brought joy. The cypher is something that comes from breakdancing, it probably comes from Africa. In dancing, when people come together they get in a circle and one person in the center will dance and do their thing and then they take turns and it’s part of the breakdance culture. But the people around are not bystanders, they’re not just watching, they’re actively cheering and being a part of it. So that’s what we have at the end of the play, and the cypher is a place of freedom and support because the person in the center can do any movement that they want and the group around them is supporting and cheering. The cypher in and of itself is an expression of joy and freedom.
What brought you to NS and what about NS has surprised you?
What brought me to the Neighborhood School was the desire for a space that was inclusive and open to different ways of learning, more progressive ways of seeing the world, the social justice way… And it’s also obviously a neighborhood school, it’s small, it’s in the community, we have lots of friends there.
I think what surprised me as a teacher/facilitator for the play was how supportive the whole school is of the arts for this play. How all parts were involved in the support: in rehearsing with the kids, bringing them back and forth and the costumes. Everything felt like a community effort, as opposed to the arts being isolated and then presenting to the community. This felt like a community effort coming together to make this happen.
What are two things about you that people at NS might not know?
I’ve been running my dance company Danza Orgánica since 2007. We produce the annual We Create festival now in its ninth year, and we run the program Dance for Social Justice™. We’ve performed at Jacob’s Pillow and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and throughout the region. Our website is danzaorganica.org
Also, I am currently organizing as part of Alianza Indígena Boricua en Resistencia (Indigenous Boricua Alliance in Resistance) with Taino indigenous people in Borikén (so-called Puerto Rico) and the diaspora towards the protection of our sacred sites.