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Move to Change 2021 Program Notes

MODArts Dance Collective (MADC) presents Move to Change is to use dance as a form of social justice and arts activism through the lens of people of color (POC). The goal of Move to Change is to create cultural and gender affirming spaces for artists of color (African, Latina/o/x, Asian, Arab, Native American [ALAANA]), MENA, & SWANA to educate, empower, or illuminate issues that reflects their histories and cultures through their unique and rich movement aesthetics.

7:00PM Concert Screening

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We Been Here: A Black Woman's Pandemic

Choreographed & Performed by: Sadé M Jones

Music: Feeling For The Wall - Meshell Ndegeocello

Vocals: Interview - Nina Simone


Social Media Handle: IG - @sadeizmbemoved


Sadé M Jones is a dancer, social psychologist, trauma informed yoga facilitator, theatre maker and healer.  


She is founder of Ashé Arts Austin and has her own practice, SADEIZM movement alchemy for creative content, corporate training, and healing services. Sadé curates artistic, mindful and culturally relevant ways for people to embody innate wholeness and address ‘charged’ topics in a heartfelt yet honest way.


Sadé’s work spans many platforms, such as: SXSW, UT Austin, Facebook, University of Louisville, Colt Couer NYC and many musical artists. She's also featured on PBS Arts In Context. Her work is heralded as “cathartic, genuine, provocative and beautiful.”


What is your personal definition of the word 'dance'?

Dance is practical magic expressed within the body by using alchemy to take the esoteric and literally make it concrete. It is a conversation that surpasses the clumsiness of words. 


How do you hold space for the communities that you serve through movement?

By using the power of the symbol in movement to create a collective catharsis within/between the artist and audience. I'm passionate about providing culturally relevant ways to engage with dance. The versatility I bring to my work allows me to meet people where they are and give them the tools to harness the wisdom of their own body.


My approach no matter the platform is deeply intentional. I show people how to understand their bodies and how to communicate with them in order to create an awareness that will allow self acceptance and expression. Thus, they *end up* moving. People always walk away from each experience feeling like they understand themselves a little bit more.


Piece Description of "We Been Here: A Black Woman's Pandemic"

Run. Pivot. Shield. Pause. Speak Up. Faster. More. Too Much. Silence. Hold This. Since the dawn of this society and other worlds of whiteness we have been on the cusp of a pause. A hiccup. The moment before a sneeze. So while the newness of this feeling is labeled "pandemic" it is also a validation of a long-lived experience. Is it possible for us to finally find solace in the word enough? Can freedom be found in stillness?

Minor Feelings

Choreographed by: Chien-Ying Wang

Performed by: Jasmine Agme, Marianna Allen, Zoey Barnes, Turquoise Cupid, Juliana Martino, Anne Tantuico, Molly Weidmaier, & Elena Yasin 

Music: Dioscuri by Erika Dohi

Vocals: Immigrant Blues by Li-Young Lee (excerpt)


Social Media Handle: FB - OcampoWang Dance


Chien-Ying Wang, Co-Artistic Director of OcampoWang Dance, received her M.F.A. from The Ohio State University. Wang danced professionally with Utah’s Repertory Dance Theatre and was a Bogliasco Fellowship finalist. She performed solo roles in several classical ballets, plus contemporary works by Zvi Gotheiner, Gideon Obarzanek, Susan Hadley, Stephen Koester, Molissa Fenley, Douglas Nielsen, Shapiro & Smith, and many others. Wang’s choreographic works has been presented in Ballet Philippines, Lustig Dance Theatre, RDT, OSU, Boston Conservatory, National Taiwan University of Arts, Beijing Normal University (China), Ailey Citigroup Theatre, Judson Memorial Church, 92nd Street Y, and Cultural Center of the Philippines, amongst others. 


What is your personal definition of the word 'dance'?

Dance is an expression of human emotion, experience, and existence, which speaks of human thoughts that’s difficult to describe in words, but well-articulated through one’s body movements.


How do you hold space for the communities that you serve through movement?

My hope is to create a meaningful dialogue, lift the broken hearted, educate our community, and cultivate empathy for human and other living things. Particularly during this unprecedented time, people of color are in critical need to voice out their concern and share their gifts not just for their existence, but for the greater good of the many. 


Piece Description of Minor Feelings

In Minor Feelings I bring stories of long voyages into kinesthetic expressions of being a minority in this new land. As a person of color, Asian immigrant, and woman, many things weigh on me in this present era. The primary focus of this work is to shine a light on experiences of immigrants in this country, particularly those of women and children. My new work, Minor Feelings, borrows its name from a powerful book by Cathy Park Hong about the “exploration of Asian American consciousness and the struggle to be human." The poem Immigrant Blues by Li-Young Lee has been one of my muses as I plumbed the depths of humans traveling across borders and oceans. I have gathered these stories and wedded them to my own to translate into movement these arduous and fulfilling journeys. 

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Choreographed & Performed by: Melissa Escano

Music: Lamento de la mujer- by Jhonny RenteriaMujeres, en Lenguas de Abya Yala-  Album: Ancestras (Petrona Martinez /Manuel Garcia-Orozco), Currulao Musica del Pacifico- Orillas del Rio Guapi;  Gaita and Drumming: Sebastian Angel 

Vocals: Mickey Ferrara- We Gather in Circles, Yessica Martinez- Mujer Guerra,  Luisa Arroyo Villareal-  Poem by Emilia Eneyda Valencia Murrain, & "De Arrullos y Azoteas" from the book "Cucuruchndo en la Memoria" published by Amafrocol "Proyecto Cantando y Contando las Tradiciones Pazcificas

Social Media Handles: IG - @mel_danzando (Melissa Escano);  @heyyymickeyyyy (Mickey Ferrara);  @manifiesto_music(Sebastian Angel);  @lua.arroyov(Luisa Arroyo Villareal)


Melissa, a Colombian immigrant, minored in Dance at Lehman College, studying with Anabella Lenzu, Amy Larimer and Michael Manswell. A Full-time Social Worker and Dancer, Melissa trained at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary. Her Colombian roots, migration story, and being a survivor of sexual violence, inspire Melissa’s work. Melissa has performed with Anabella Lenzu Dance/Drama and REDi Dance Company of Bevely Lopez. She is currently dancing with Bombazo Dance Company of Milteri Tucker, with whom she has performed at Lincoln Center, NY Botanical Garden,  Santiago de Cuba, New Orleans Congo Festival. Melissa also dances with Movement of the People Dance Company of Joya Powell. Melissa's work has been shown at the United Nations, New York University, Lehman College, Terraza 7, Dixon Place (as part of ModArts CollectiveThread Dance Festival). For Melissa dance/performing are essential channels of community organizing, giving us an opportunity to not only dream of the world we deserve, but to feel how that world can move in us, out of us and with us. 


What is your personal definition of the word 'dance'?

Dance to me means everything that life is, everything that is possible and each element that brings joy. Dance is abundance, is safety, protection and for me, the most sacred space of freedom. Dance is borderless, a bridge, and the home I've always envisioned.


How do you hold space for the communities that you serve through movement?

Creating a safe and protected space is extremely important in how I show up for my community through movement. Dance is a channel of releasing, containing, exploring and unearthing new aspects of us, therefore emphasizing the importance of feeling safe is always at the core of holding space. Additionally, with dance, I remind my community that in one way or another we are all dancers, we are movers, and we have a story to tell, to do this is to make dance more accessible and reachable because often it gets pushed from those that need it the most. Holding space in these ways ensures that dance/movement are part of my communities.


Piece Description of Entorno

Forced migration, gender-based violence, state violence yet we rise, organize, dance, speak, protest, release, cry, laugh, come together, isolate, repeat, find/create an entor no(home). Feminized bodies find themselves in these loops of social conditioning but we break through and find our powers in each other and present-community channels. This homage, a fusion of dance, poetry, song and music will center the legacies, spirits and living sheroes of resistance, everyday life that show compassion, humanity, rage and their individual/communal powers to keep moving forward. Through the words of Lua, Yessica and Mickey we dive into a world of rage, power, everyday living, ancestral recipes and rebirth. In the movement, Melissa brings these channels of resilience to flow. The Gaitas and Drumming of Sebastian sprinkled the rhythms of anger, joy and vibrancy of togetherness. Building our individual and collective Entorno, join us.

868 Irving Street: Paint At Dawn ·Powdah At Dawn·

Choreographed by: Makayla Peterson

Performed by: Makayla Anderson, Wren Coleman, Janyah Harte, Reyanna Myers, Riley Newman, Makayla Peterson, & Camisha Prince

Music: IzWE By Kes, Etienne Charles & Laventille Riddim Section; J’ouvert Morning, Mixed By Arnold Bernard;; Muddy Angels By Treason Clan; 4Kit Rhythm Section

Vocals: ‘Twas the Night Before J’ouvert | Rhonda Charles

Social Media Handle: @mmp.thecollective


Makayla Peterson is a dancer, choreographer, scholar, and artist from Brooklyn, NY. She is a 2020 Temple University graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a minor in Digital Media Technologies. She is a 2019 recipient of the Temple University Diamond Research Scholars Grant which has been presented at national and international conferences. She is the Founder & Artistic Director of her dance company Monét Movement Productions: The Collective founded in May 2020. In addition, Makayla is a dancer with Enya-Kalia Creations and CarNYval Dancers, an editorial/administrative intern for Black Dance Magazine, and Program Coordinator for MOVE|NYC|.


What is your personal definition of the word 'dance'?

Dance for me holds a very personal definition and connection. Dance is the purest art form that makes me feel alive. Dance provides a sense of purpose and ability to share my unique artistic voice with the world. I never feel freer or myself than when I dance, whether that be in rehearsal, class, teaching or performing. Dance has been there for me in so many ways and is the love that keeps on giving without asking for anything in return. The spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical release that movement provides me with transcends tangible bounds. Dance is and will always be my first love and I am grateful to be able to have found something I am so passionate about that I want to dedicate my life to it.


How do you hold space for the communities that you serve through movement?

Within this work, I aim to provide an indigenous teaching and movement vocabulary of Caribbean dance forms. I aim to create space for the inclusion of all dance forms to be viewed equally in both traditional and nontraditional spaces. I aim to decolonize an embodied practice that views the Caribbean and the Black dancing body as being overly sexual. By providing proper representation for the culture and its dance forms, the knowledge can be proliferated correctly and accurately. I want to dismantle the idea within academia that only ballet and modern are the foundation of dance and propose that all dance forms in some way, shape, or form are the foundation as they all inform one another. Each dance style possesses qualities, elements, and dynamics that can be seamlessly infused when performing another technique to only add more layers to one’s dancing. I am serving not only the Caribbean community by creating a safe place for us to show our dance forms in all their glory but also welcoming those interested in learning. I want to make the dance form accessible to all communities.


Piece Description of 868 Irving Street: Paint At Dawn ·Powdah At Dawn·

This work tells the story of J'ouvert, a celebration that originated in Trinidad and Tobago, from the perspective of its peoples and those of Trinbagonian descent. With authentic cultural elements such as paint and powder, riddim section, and the flagwoman, we are sharing the quintessential aspects of what makes J’ouvert what it is. Utilizing both African and Caribbean diasporic movements, we are sharing this cultural celebration in its purest form through movement. This dance works to continue to proliferate the Trinbagonian and Caribbean culture throughout the world.

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United States of America-Citizen

Choreographed & Performed by: Janet Aisawa

Vocals: Excerpt from Learn About the United States Quick Civics Lessons for the New Naturalization Test United States Citizenship Immigration Services

Video recording by: Andrew Gurian

Lighting Design by: John Nichter


Social Media Handle:


Janet Aisawa choreographed "Them" an evening length piece under Ai Dance Theater. Excerpts of “Them” were shown at the Museum of Modern Art, University Settlement, Green Space, LaMama, and Ballet Arts. She worked with Yuko Takebe on “Shadows of Hiroshima”, a short film shot in Japan. Evening length works include “Spring Together” co-directed with Beth Soll, at The Medicine Show Theatre, NYC, “Generations, A Lifetime in Dance”, at the Construction Company, NYC and “The Nostalgic Body”, a collaboration with Mary-Clare McKenna at The Silver Whale Gallery, Jefferson, NY and Chisenhale, London. She is a founding member of Julie Ludwick’s Fly-by-Night Dance Theater, an aerial dance company. She has performed with Beth Soll, Kristin Hatleberg, Ollom Movement Art, Mary-Clare McKenna, Laura Shapiro, Dan Froot, and Lee Nagrin.


What is your personal definition of the word 'dance'?

Expressive movement


How do you hold space for the communities that you serve through movement?

My practice in dance and in life is to have a multi-directional awareness so that I can maintain being present in my body with it's myriad emotions and physical sensations and at the same time be aware of the outside environment without losing my own internal awareness. This practice allows me to hold space for myself and others.


Piece Description of United States of America-Citizen

This piece is performed to a sound score of excerpts from the study guide of 100 civics questions for the Naturalization Test of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. 


It was performed at the University Settlement as part of their Performance Project. 

say I Love You

Choreographed by: Rodd Denson

Performed by: Rodd Denson, Ronnell Kitt, and Brandon Woods

Vocals: Rodd Denson, Ronnell Kitt, Brandon Woods | Poem - HOMEless - Rodd Denson


Social Media Handles: IG & FB - @stubbornMVMT


Rodd is a Performance Artist who received their BS in Dance from LIU Brooklyn. As a performance-based artist, they use movement, text, and visuals to tease temptation, liberate the queer black soul, and often stir the pot. Rodd is currently a performer with Heartbreak Crew and the House of Prodigy. Rodd has shown their original work at ACDA, (Hood)Works! by Brother(hood) Dance and University Settlement. They have also performed with EQuilibrium Dance Theatre, Sankofa Kuumba, Maimouna Keita, and Bloodline Dance Theatre. Rodd is the Artistic Director of stubbornMVMT, a performance-based company intentionally creating chaos for radical unfamiliar voices.


What is your personal definition of the word 'dance'?

Dance is a physical embodiment of words, rhyme, rhythm, and emotion. It is the physical expression of the mind, body, and soul. Dance is tangible.


How do you hold space for the communities that you serve through movement?

Space is held for the artists involved throughout each process - creating, rehearsing, and performing. We informally have circle keeping moments where we share information related to the piece, discuss our own experiences with what is being created/rehearsed, and then allow these talks to fuel the intention behind the movement. We also start each rehearsal with a check-in ranging from expressing our "roses and thorns," how we are currently feeling, and even just accepting that we are here and present. Holding space is nuanced based on the community - everyone needs a space to just be. 


Piece Description of say I Love You

say I Love You is a reflection of the cyclical emotional and sexual trauma queer youth experience. Often in the queer community, we find ourselves using sexual behaviors to establish relationships, trust, and identity – mistaking sex for love and/or power; the idea that this is the only way we can show up in the world. This habitual behavior, especially in today’s hook-up culture, manifests in body dysphoria, social anxiety, and unstable relationships: intimate and platonic. With say I Love You, we entrust ourselves with a new power navigating romance, sexual temptation – desires, wants, and curiosities, and the continual lust for love.

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Sweet Child of Mine

Choreographed by: Veronica Cheeseboro, Shoshana Mozlin, Sharayah Spruill, Courtney Stewart, Matthew Ting, Leah Tubbs, & Imani Vieira

Performed by: Veronica Cheeseboro, Shoshana Mozlin, Sharayah Spruill, Courtney Stewart, Matthew Ting, & Imani Vieira

Cinematography by: Alexander Sargent

Music: Black Violin


Social Media Handles: IG/Twitter - @modarts_dance; FB - MODArts Dance Collective


Leah Tubbs, a Birmingham, Alabama native & Harlem resident, studied dance at Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) and the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. She has performed with various dance companies in Alabama, Ohio, California, Texas, and New York. MODArts Dance Collective (MADC), established in 2011 by Leah and Shaun Tubbs, holds space for BIPOC through its choreographic work, festivals, concerts, residencies, & workshops. MADC prides itself on its distinction as a collective as we maintain that the ‘we’ is greater than the ‘me’ and that our primary goal is to establish a sustainable and nurturing community.


What is your personal definition of the word 'dance'?

Dance is the oldest language and form of communication. Movement gifts me the opportunity to honor and celebrate my ancestors and elders whose shoulders I stand while cultivating a bridge for BIPOC artists to be seen and heard as their unapologetic selves.


How do you hold space for the communities that you serve through movement?

We hold space for BIPOC communities to show up as their most authentic selves as a form of resistance. We nurture art as a form of liberation - creating a world where we can be seen and heard as our whole selves, not in constant fear for our lives. MADC is not only a traditional dance company whose season consists of two concerts and a gala. We know firsthand the deficiency of IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equality, Access) in the dance field and provide open, safe spaces for Black and Brown artists and communities to heal, grow, and thrive through our free residencies, free workshops, festivals, and concerts with cost effective ticket prices so everyone has access to dance that reflects BIPOC culture and histories that resonate with a broader audience.


Piece Description of Sweet Child of Mine

Sweet Child of Mine focuses on the adultification bias of Black girls. The roles and responsibilities of older girls to assist in the upkeep of the house and to be a role model for their younger siblings while outperforming in school and extracurricular activities may be too much for them to handle. The added pressure takes away a child’s innocence and derails her/them of social and psychological development & growth. It forces a girl to grow up before she is/they are mentally, emotionally, and psychologically equipped to do so. 

Sweet Child of Mine explores the dynamics between Black women holding onto the added responsibilities and expectations placed upon them from childhood, as well as how they can reverse the patterns placed on them by allowing girls to be children. MADC feels that this subject matter will resonate with families of Black & Brown communities, as well as educate and expose a broader audience to this ongoing issue that affects the relationship between parents and girls from all walks of life. The goal of the overall audience experience is to provide professional dance accessible to all while sparking dialogue amongst one another when viewing Sweet Child of Mine to begin a positive shift to reverse this ongoing societal issue.

Gratitude & Support​

MADC would like to thank our donors & Patreon supporters: Anonymous (3), Sharon Banks, Paul Brill, William-Michael Cooper, Zoe Correa, Mallory Creveling, Megan Curet, Lindi Duesenberg, Joy Hanks, Sarah Horne, Bri Jenkins, Rachel Kuczynski, Karen & Brian Lowy, Jeffery Martin, Susan Mende, Leila Mire, Jessica Mosher, Sophie Parens, Tanya Patton, Joya Powell, Chatiera Ray, Tammeca Rochester, Nathaniel Rutledge, Harriette Smiley, Laronica Southerland, Charis Travlos, Laura Tubbs, & Monse Valdez.


MADC is a sponsored project through Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Assist us in continuing to be an agent of social change and amplifying BIPOC voices through movement. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation, become a Patreon patron, purchase an item from MADC's Etsy shop, or discover other ways to support the company.


*****This year's Move to Change Dance Festival is made possible by the generous support of Lower Manhattan Cultural Center and its 2021 Creative Engagement Grant.***** 

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