We are so happy to give you the opportunity to get to know choreographer Zaquia Mahler Salinas a little bit better in this week’s Choreographers Corner. Let’s just say she’s part of the San Diego Dance Theater family. She trained locally with Jean Isaacs and Terry Wilson, and after graduating from undergrad at UC Santa Barbara she quickly joined as an apprentice in the company. After only one season Jean asked her to join as a full company member. Since then her leadership skills quickly emerged as an asset and she leads the way in reaching diverse audiences as Social Media Coordinator. Her work has been featured in our Young Choreographer’s Showcase and Prize, Live Arts Fest, and shared evenings in our White Box Live Arts space, so, it was a natural progression for her to share her talents at Trolley Dances. Read on to learn more about her experience working with her cast and setting a site-specific work.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a native San Diegan and I cherish this place I call home and all of the lovely people in it who make up my movement community. My passion for movement runs deep in my guts. I teach yoga and dance throughout San Diego, as well as choreograph and perform and I am deeply grateful to be able to go through life in this embodied way. My mission is to engage others in an inspiring relationship with movement and a deeper sense of confidence in their physical experience as human beings.
What is your past experience with site-specific work?
I am so freaking excited to have this opportunity to make a Trolley Dance! While I have danced in several site-specific dances with San Diego Dance Theater, I have never made one before. I have to say the task seemed both exhilarating and terrifying.
How has the site/cast helped to shape the dance?
When it worked out that my site was going to be in an art museum gallery space full of Chican@ art (which displays culture, socio-political history and personal story), I was pretty stoked. I have recently been investigating storytelling and personal identity in dance making. This space seemed the perfect location to move some of my questions about crafting movement that is personal and communal into physical research. I am nerding-out on the way the space has shaped this dance both thematically and in physical space. It is a really rewarding experience to feel all of the elements of space, theme, movement, and community come together.
The dance relates to the gallery greatly through thematic content. In Chicano@ art, I connect deeply to the subject matter of collective history and cultural narrative expressed through images of individual moments. There is a preservation of identity in the colors and symbols painted onto these canvases- a remembering and reverence of obstacle and overcoming, every day life, and ancient roots nearly eradicated. The dancers each tell their own stories of remembering and forgetting. I asked them to consider in movement and in words how they see themselves and who they are as people. It has been a wonderful communal process of digging in to self and the interconnectivity of our experiences as human beings.
I wasn’t sure how the physical space, being a room void of physical obstacles, would shape the dance. It turned out that the energy of the space has influenced the work pretty significantly- I am not surprised. The high ceilings and open space, white walls filled with colorful visuals ripe with symbolism and story, all influence the quality of the movement and the dancers occupation of the space. It is an empowering space where the dancers have made individual connections to the art and related them back to their own personal stories, which they tell in this dance. The gallery has a quietness about it that lends itself to the dancers speaking in the work. The quiet also prompted an approach to music for the piece that I wouldn’t have otherwise considered; the dancers each play their own sound score, selected based on a childhood memory, from their phones which they carry with them through the piece.
We’re excited to see how it all comes together next weekend! Join us for this one-of-a-kind ride around town to support local dance: http://www.sandiegodancetheater.org/trolleydances.html