Enough.

imageMy friend recently tattooed “I am enough” on her forearm. Something so simple yet hard to remember. When I saw this on her Facebook, I just got back from a long day that included an audition and meeting with my mentor so I felt good and thought ‘yeah’. These words were a reminder for me that “yes, I am enough!”

But then came the next day and the next. And by Wednesday, I wasn’t enough. I had a few days to stew on the fact that I walked into that audition on Sunday feeling hopeless. My ‘future’ self had understood why ‘past’ self wasn’t up for an audition.

So this terrible thing happened the Tuesday before called the election…do you all remember the presidential election? The election where the U.S. showed its preference towards white superiority over all aspects of human decency and exposed the dark core of this country’s heart? Yeah, that election. Anyway, I was feeling pretty shitty that week.

My friend Carvell said it best and wraps up my feelings perfectly “America is a country that every time there is progress against white male supremacy, there is blowback. it happened after the civil war, and after the civil rights movement. it’s happened again this year. it sucks to live in a country that is always trying to fuck you out of your humanity, but we have each other. we have love and we have our work. let us always lean into that.”

Now is the moment and time to honor and perform my work, my blackness, my Chicana pride, my culture, my art, my femininity, and my message about this love of being black, Chicana and beautiful. This is a liminal space that is both transformative and critical. Therefore, I am critical of the spaces I co-perform and inhabit.

Walking into this audition which is a dance style born from black bodies using art to harness a sense of power despite their oppressors, my heart sinks a little bit at the lack of black and brown bodies in the space. This is not to say that they were not present, they were. However white bodies surpassed brown and black. For many reasons with everything going on in the Bay Area and beyond, it just wasn’t a sufficient diverse racial demographic to the community and message this dance group serves. Because there is a loneliness of being black in the Bay Area these days.

This is the time to be surrounded by and around the power associated with black bodies creating art together. Queer black bodies using their art to construct and reconstruct their blackness. Using dance and hip-hop to expand the boundaries of the black identity to include more of our voices to show blackness is not fixed that it is quare and queer and beyond.

There were several conflicting variables going on for me before and during this audition. Then someone used intersectionality in the wrong context during an exercise which was annoying because we shouldn’t be using words that we don’t understand…

These are all the external factors having an affect on this experience in hindsight. All a reminder of the work that needs to be done. The work to lean into. The internal conflict is my part of this whole experience which is my mediocrity, lack of preparation and need for validation from my peers. My mentor had to remind me that I returned to dance after a long, long break (like a decade). She told me that I’ve come so far in such a short time but I forget that I’m a novice, amature compared to dancers with consistent training and importantly too I needed to remember “that’s okay.” She continued “your best is good enough, Iris.”

I remembered my friend and her tattoo, I am enough. With everything that is happening and going to happen, I am enough.

 

Dunhman Tech

This semester has been a difficult one in grad school and I’m very much looking forward to the last day of class. However, dance has been a pivotal part of my semester but in a way I didn’t expect and/or anticipate. My research methods class is centered around ethnography. Therefore I’m doing an ethnographic project this semester where I’m coperforming with deaf dancers in a Katherine Dunham Tech class at ODC. I’ve been attending classes with Antoine Hunter off and on for two years and its been a real pleasure being in his class. He is possibly one of the most motivating teachers I’ve ever had. So I’m just writing to say I’m thankful for a place like Antoine’s class to call upon the parts of my self that are left unused and wanting to be moved, strengthened, and lengthened. Dance awakens my spirit and soul.

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The Road to Hana

In 2013, Eric and I went to Hawaii with his family. We were intent on driving Hana during our stay in Maui however we were very lazy and ended up laying on the beach everyday instead. My dad decided to invite me to Hawaii at the last minute, he was going to Maui with my sister Miranda since she was going to be in her best friend’s wedding. I’m not one to say ‘no’ to any invitation where 1. I don’t have to pay for the ticket 2. the destination is Maui. Therefore in the middle of my loco semester I decided to go ahead and give myself a mini vacay. And on this trip we would drive the road to Hana.

On the road to Hana we listen to a self guided tour on an app Miranda purchased for $4.99. It was the best $4.99 spent on this trip. We got all the information someone who has never been on Hana or to Hawaii might want to know with little tips and excellent suggestions for stops along the way. It was rainy and misty and terrifying the higher we climbed. However, the higher we climbed the more I enjoyed the company I was with. My dad would add his own commentary to the guided tour and Miranda has the best taste in snack food. We had a special moment on that drive. On the way down from Hana we had the windows rolled down since the rain had stopped, and the view from the top down the lush green hills to the ocean was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It was peaceful and rather magical on Hana. However, I’m not going to be driving on that road again because of the 600 twists, curves, and turns. Don’t even get me started on the bridges!

Here it is my moment of zen: I have been feeling overwhelmed these past several weeks. With my new job, school, and some health stuff a love one is striving to take care of, it’s been stressful. But I’m noticing it’s been rough for a lot of individuals around me. I believe that calamity can end in serenity. Living in calamity is awful and requires some kind of harsh intervention in order for me to recognize the work I need to do in order to regain my serenity. Hana gave me serenity and a reminder that I’m a small part on bigger, breathtaking road. As well as the need for me to make some changes. All in all, I’m pretty lucky to have been able to spend that time with my dad and sister even if I’m behind on my course work again. It was worth it. They are worth it.

A Letter I Wrote To Myself About Getting Fat

So love this. Great Body Positive article by Put on Your Happy Face.

Put On Your Happy Face

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Shall we talk about your body?

Your body, which used to be thinner. Which you took for granted, because it fitted into cheap, tight dresses. Your body, which took you up and down Brixton Hill, every day, twice a day, never unheralded by catcalls, the stream of men and their “Oh baby hey baby nice tits nice ass hey WHERE YOU GOING?”

Your body was a girl’s body, made from dancing and late nights and skipped dinners, of hopefulness and sleeplessness and sadness. It took care of itself, or rather, you didn’t care that it couldn’t. It wasn’t for you, and so you didn’t mind that you couldn’t always afford to feed and nurture it. The admiration of others was nourishment enough. You often went to bed feeling empty. You thought it was heartbreak. It was probably hunger.

Then your body became plump with love.

Late dinners and later breakfasts…

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I Am Brown Girl Dancing

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I facilitated a zine making workshop yesterday with a group of rad eight-year olds at Girls Rock Camp, and the project was called “I am, I believe”. One of the campers asked herself aloud “What am I?” then she turned to face me and repeated the question; what am I?

I couldn’t answer for her but for myself I can say the following: I am brown. I am a girl. I am forever dancing in my soul, mind, heart, and physical being until my body has worn itself down. Last year, I experience a kind of emotional bankruptcy that some people never recover from. I sat in my group therapy class wondering if I’d be like this, sad and anxious, forever. The fear of those feelings being my permanent disposition, I decided to take suggestions and one of those suggestions was to take a dance class. For the last ten years I’ve taken dance off and on, but made excuses as to why I couldn’t afford to continue dancing because of time, money, and the way my thighs look stuffed in spandex. Left with little options as to how to get out of my spiritually crippling emotional state I took a drop-in dance class at a local studio and prayed for immediate relief.

Then I had to get realistic. Maybe dance wouldn’t relieve me of my woes immediately, maybe I was going to really suck and this whole thing would be over before it started. As I mimicked stretching like the other dancers (I was so self-conscience thinking everyone was looking at me, I considered announcing to class that I was lost and not to follow me) when I remember to breathe. I reminded myself that I was here to get better on the inside and not the outside. I would not be good. I would not be graceful. I would not look like the girl in the front line with perfect point and a skinny waist. I will fumble. I would sweat buckets and be a disgusting mess. I will forget steps. I will be imperfect in every way. So I came up with a little mantra that went like this; I will dance. I will dance without judgement of myself. I will dance without judgement of everyone else. I will dance because it brings me joy.

Dance has indeed brought me joy. A year later, I am a dancer. I’m a dancer because I say I am. Also, I still fumble, sweat buckets with mascara running under my eyes, look like a stuffed sausage in spandex shorts, and forget choreography at every class. I have a full-time life with work, a boyfriend, family, friends, as well as volunteering at a youth program for girls. Instead of looking at my life as working full-time and dancing, I am a full-time dancer that has to work.

In a year, I’ve had one informal performance, one performance in a showcase, and last night I attended my very first audition for a company. I intend to use this platform as a diary, sound board, spirit animal, and place to talk about all things that make dance greatness. Come with me and remember not to follow me because I’m lost too. Oh yeah, I got a position in the company.

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