Interview: Marsha Pierre
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Q: What has been your professional dance journey, and how did you come to dance with Limon Dance Company?

I went to Montclair State University. In the summers I did Earl Mosely and Hubbard Street summer intensives as well as other projects. We had a Limón professor at Montclair, and I loved the technique. I found myself within the technique. Maxine Steinman was a mentor of mine and urged me to go to the Limón audition. I went, and got an apprentice contract.

Q: Do you have any mentors or important people in your life that have shaped the way you dance and or think about dance?

There are so many people. I can definitely say; Frederick Moseley, Christian Von Howard, Maxine Stienman, Jacqueline Green, Kyle Abraham, Sidra Bell and others.

Q: What have been some challenges in your pre-professional or professional dance career?

The transition from college to professional has definitely been challenging. It is mentally hard, trying to find your purpose, and giving all you can give to the work. You are constantly growing. There is a shift in mindset, where you become a professional but have to recognize you are still a student of life. You have to own that by taking ownership of your dance career and artistry.

Q: Do you believe dance can be a platform for social justice topics? If so, how?

Of course. We share our stories and our experiences through movement and dance—always. José Limón shows a lot of his experience being a Mexican immigrant in America. He uses dance to tell his own stories alongside real life immigration stories. I believe dance is another voice and vehicle to talk about struggles and things you fight for.

Q: What inspires you and drives you forward as an artist and a person?

Knowing there is always so much more to know in this world of curiosity. There is always the adventure of finding and learning new things.

Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you as a performing artist?

The COVID19 pandemic hit pretty bad. It hurt a lot of companies badly. I also worked at a restaurant that closed and fired half the staff, including me. The New York City Center seasons and The Joyce seasons [which have been cancelled] are so important for our funding and grants (for the Limon Company). We are trying to be innovative by having virtual meetings and online classes. It is absolutely amazing, and instills us with hope so we don't stop dead in our tracks. I truly love this way of pushing forward. We do have a beautiful arts community so we can look into emergency funds and grants. It is very cool to see so many people out there willing to help.  This keeps me on my toes to be active and progressive, and to find new ways to grow my own creativity and artistry. I was able to take a step back and say to myself: “This is where I am now. Where do i want to go from here?”

Q: How do you think we can continue to create and share art during this time?

We have so many resources which are so amazing and I love it. When it comes to collaboration, we must keep collaborating—even virtually, with musicians and actors. You can always work something out—you can even work with computer engineers to help get things online. We need to continue to develop more ideas with other people. We have the internet and we need to keep continuing to build new ideas and new ways of creating.

Q: What social changes and responsibilities have you seen people making during the pandemic?

I feel like people are definitely seeing how things are bigger than just ourselves. I see people being less selfish because they recognize that this virus is not specific in who it targets. I see people being mindful of having a more worldly viewpoint, and being more selfless. I hope this continues to carry on even after this pandemic is over. I hope people are more conscious of their own decisions, and how they can benefit the community as a whole.

Q: Do you think the pandemic will make us a more socially conscious society? If so, how?

I would hope so, yes. It depends where this pandemic goes. There is so much that is out of our hands, so we have to make meaning where we can, and be more mindful of doing so. We need to be more empathetic. It will be a task for us all. I also hope this affects the government to be more socially conscious.

Q: Using the idea of “worldmaking” how do you imagine the performing arts world after the pandemic?

I see the performing arts continuing to grow. I see people finding new ideas and new ways to communicate with the world. This is something that is needed to fuel new innovative and creative ideas. Now, when we videotape ourselves, we can just go for it and share. I hope this boosts people's confidence to share more. If something like this were to ever happen again, I imagine that the performing art world will be prepared. People will always find new ways to connect to audiences.

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