La Migra, Let's Run solo work 2014
La Migra, Let's Run ( episode 2 ) excerpt
Play Ball exerpt
La Migra, Let’s Run is a phrase often used when immigrants find themselves in close parameters with ICE ( Immigration and Customs Enforcement ).
La Migra, Let’s Run began as a commentary solo performance materializing the plight of an immigrant and their struggles. This speaks particularly on assimilation and cultural acculturation which often transpires in an immigrant’s life. Bringing the personal to the political, this work is depicted from my personal experience as a Filipino immigrant in the USA.
Drawing from my fear of unacceptance, deportation, and separation from my US-born Filipinx daughter, I created this solo resulting from the passing of SB1070, a 2010 legislative act that allowed state law enforcement officers to "lawfully" stop and arrest any suspected undocumented immigrant. This law also required immigrants older than 18 to possess any certificate of alien registration issued to him or her at all times. Racial profiling and anti-immigration sentiments heightened during these times. This new awareness of US laws led me to further research historical laws demonstrating nativism in US history, namely the Naturalization Act and the Asian Exclusion Act.
Playing on caricatures, I made statements portraying stereotypes as a method to present what white America sees in an immigrant. Using the symbolism of a mime, an art form that involves clowning, white makeup, and gestural storytelling, I used this modality to express the erasure of the immigrant's voice and portray the pressure to acculturate to whiteness. This was my statement on how immigrants of color have assimilated to white culture for the need of acceptance, opportunities, and even survival.
This work was commissioned in several festivals in the United States from Washington DC’s Dance Place to Bronx Academy of Dance New York.
In 2015, I workshopped the piece for an ensemble cast. A few students from Virginia Commonwealth University and a colleague from Latin Ballet of Virginia and my seven year old, Malaya took part in the creation of this work. Discourse on power hierarchies and the history of immigration on the US was widely discussed.
At the end, I came back wearing the white paint on my face. This time I'm in a position to control the formation of line -- the system. This shows that white nationalist rhetoric can occur within people of color.
The white make up is a symbol of whiteness as a social construct, rather than a pigmentation of skin. This is a "calling in" to my fellow Asian Americans that whiteness can exist within our communities. The model minority stigma is an example of such.
Play Ball begins with an anthem-- the anthem that serves as a symbol of pride for belonging to a nation. This anthem in particular is the national anthem of the USA, which in this performance was sung by a half Puerto Rican and half Polish descent performer, Catherine Fazsewski . Discussions on the star spangled banner's composer, Francis Scott Key, a pro-slavery and anti abolitionist was discoursed. This work is designed to be adapted for community dialogue. This can be deconstructed for various dance class size, utilizing personal autoethnographic ancestral stories to revamp the work. The entry point to this work is history of “The Star-Spangled Banner” documentary created by some students at Morgan State University. https://vimeo.com/166881889
Using the mechanics of the game baseball, this physical theater work shows the many bases that an immigrant has to pass to be deemed legal under the standards of the US government. From the Form 1-90 Green card application to US Citizenship Application Form N-400, the process of application and the filing fees, this piece discusses who can afford to be a citizen and those who have been here but were never acknowledged as free citizens of the US.
Sweet American Dream is a performative act, a demonstration of the propaganda --that is the American Dream.
Using this song to demonstrate the love of US culture to capitalize on the "exotic," this piece plays on the exploitation of marginalized stories, the use of tokenism as currency and the absurdity of it all. This work discusses the complexity of the term diversity and multiculturalism.
An expansion of this old work is currently in progress. This time I will be using the the song Jungle Fever, a song performed by Belgian performers, The Chakachas, which made it no.1 in US billboard charts and was featured in the film, Boogie Nights.
The work is a response to the current political sentiment after the current administration (Trump) rescinded DACA ( deferred action for childhood arrivals ), signaling restriction and deportation on family based immigration. Following this event in history, US immigration authorities separated more than 1,500 children from their parents at the Mexico border early in the Trump administration. The solo work is a dedication to mothers who are forced to never see their children ever again as a result of a anti- immigration policies targeting groups of minorities.
In 1948, a U.S. Immigration Service plane carrying undocumented immigrants from California to Mexico, crashed. All 32 people onboard were killed. Woody Guthrie wrote a poem, titled "Plane Wreck at Los Gatos." This eventually became a legendary protest song, "Deportee. " This version by the acapella group Sweet Honey and the Rock is a track I used as impetus for this solo work.
More details on the history of the song, Deportee is in the audio link to the left.