"While experiencing emotional paralysis sometimes manifesting in staying in bed for the whole day and the day after, it would be rebellious to start dancing.
As a college student, I was failing. I felt trapped and truly believed that I would be trapped forever. For a very long time my hidden truth was that I was going to fail at life (we are used to calling this depression). There was no way around that thought. When I decided to pursue art through movement, against everything I ought to do, I thought I was going crazy. Convinced it was the only option available at the time that made me leave the bed, I grieved not joining the normal workforce, the path towards financial independence and illusion of security.
As a Pilipino passport holder and with a US green card, (I have yet to apply for US citizenship), I was not and still is not good at being a national citizen. I never felt pride as a Pilipino, nor did I feel like I had to join in the pursuit of the American dream. I was stateless in my mind although physically I reside here in the US and was born and raised in the Philippines. I am suspicious of how countries were made, which in another way can mean how borders were carved. I am dubious of the national spirit - that everyone had a common interest in forming a country. My ideal world is a nationless world.
Nevertheless, I have great admiration for the common Pilipinos who resisted the greedy and fear-driven imperial leaders/influencers and its followers from Spain, Japan, and United States.
I've decided to participate in the arts community here in New York City where I live.
I don’t have a sense of belonging in terms of nationhood, but I’d rather not belong in that aspect than blindly and fully participate in systems I don't have full understanding of. This explains my partial unemployment in government/corporations/cooperatives/organizations. I can afford to do this because my mother hasn't kicked me out of her house yet.
My rebellion is to perform against my family’s expectations, against the emotional paralysis, and make works for purpose of self-knowledge in hopes of finding a position in the complex systems of the world that is less wasteful, disconnected, and depressed. Creating for excavation and revelation of my thought-process, seeing it for myself as it is reflected in the works. And from there with hope and apprehension, organize my thoughts and feelings to move forward as a stateless artist.
P.S. I fail at these things all the time. I just haven't fully stopped."
Rina Espiritu is an NYC local artist with a U.S. green card and a Philippine passport. Born and raised in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, she moved to NYC with her family in 2005 and has been living in Queens. As a young immigrant in college she found her passion in performance and started her dance training in sophomore year against her family's wishes. She majored in Dance and has a minor in Asian American Studies and Psychology at Hunter College. Her debut work premiered in the fall of 2014 titled Pacified. She finished college work in Spring of 2016.
She aims to reflect the human expression of the inner turmoil that is felt when made aware of powerlessness and lack of freedom in certain situations. Inspired by the illusion of free will and the power of situations, she has been propelled to bouts of activity to make the necessary changes in keeping her disrupted life as an artist. The main driver for these bouts of activity have been her need to experience the sociality of rehearsing with various types of artists and spending time in studios. Without it, she tend to spend most of her days in bed or in the couch and always glued to a screen. She's convinced that it's the people that's going to propel her out of bed and it has been true so far.
Her works happened at various places in NYC: the Dixon Place, La MaMa, Jack Crystal Theater, Brooklyn Studios for Dance (BkSD), Kaye Playhouse, Center for Performance Research, Judson Memorial Church, HECK Brooklyn, Chez Bushwick, The Works Studio, the Delancey, Abrons Art Center, Socrates Sculpture Park, Eden's Expressway, Green Space, Mark Morris Dance Group, Alchemical Theater Laboratory, the Woods Cooperative, El Jardin del Paraiso, Maxon Mills Porch in Wassaic, and Muriel Schulman Theater.
Currently, she's using the second SONA of Pres. Rogrido Duterte as her main text while performing. She wonders about the role of art sites in perpetuating certain kinds of art. She enjoys knowing about other people's subversion to the usual ways of the world. Daydreaming, re-framing, and imagining over and over again an alternative to the collectively constructed reality.
While immersed on finding ways to represent entrapment in our own physical body, by the structural systems we participate in and by our individual thought processes, she is also looking for a way out. Her work is a matter of life and death. She is resuscitating her spirit through the works.
folks i am working with in dance
Violeta Tellez is from México City, she discovered dance when she was 16 years old, she has always liked to move but dance brings magic to her life improving and helping go through it at a level, pace and rhythm she had never imagined. She has been living in New York City since 2008.
Molly Gorin is a Brooklyn-based contemporary dancer and movement artist. She grew up in NYC and graduated from Oberlin College in 2016 with a double major in dance and creative writing. Since then she has had the pleasure of performing with a variety of contemporary companies and choreographers, including Lucy Kerr Art, Muliebris Dance Theater, Aimee Plauche and Performers, DanceBoisierre, and Linden Movement Lab. Molly also does a variety of movement forms, from folk dance to aerial silks, writes short fiction, and works a fun mélange of day jobs.
Amy Ashley is a west-coast transplant who has been freelancing in NYC for the past year and a half. She’s worked with artists and choreographers in San Francisco and Portland, Oregon as well as NYC including Maurya Kerr, David Harvey, Deirdre Towers, Gregory Dawson, Eowyn Barrett, and Sidra Bell. Jazz and cabaret singing are also in her repertoire and she works in a wide range of dance genres including theater dance and old school jazz. Currently, she is experimenting with creating her own work and expanding her teaching credentials. She’s always inspired to work with thoughtful, progressive artists like Rina Espiritu.
Originally from the Midwest, Amelia Koper Heintzelman is new to the NYC dance scene. Her creative work has toured nationally and been presented in Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. She works primarily with improvisation in performance; a form she feels most purely reveals the human experience. This includes projects with musical collaborator Albert Sigman, and with fellow cofounder of The Middle Space Dance Company, Leah Fournier. She graduated from Indiana University Bloomington with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology, focusing Contemporary Dance. She now lives in Brooklyn where she is a freelance dancer, performer, and administrator for various artists based in NYC. www.ameliakh.com
Keiry Abril (April) Amparo was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and relocated to the USA as a young child.
Abril was introduced to dance classes in 2009 with a New York Style Salsa class and thereafter found herself immersed in the communities of Salsa, Bachata and Merengue social dance. She began taking classes in Contemporary at Hunter College and participated in Hunter's Hip-hop dance club, Hip-HopOlogy, in 2012. She performed in student choreographies and repertory work by Marjani Forté-Saunders and Gerald Otte in 2014. She is currently in works directed/choreographed by Kareem Alexander, Jamie Lynn Chandler, Teresa Cuevas of Indorican Multicultural Dance Project and Rina Espiritu. She has performed in works directed/choreographed by Chloe Chotrani, Janice Tomlinson and Joshua Pacheco.
Abril is currently performing throughout NYC, recently in El Jardín del Paraíso, Abrons Art Center and Gibney Dance. She is completing her BA in Studio Art at Hunter College with a concentration in painting and holds an AAS from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She sees dance as a constant and healing force in her life. Abril is a Bronx resident.
Brooklyn native, Camilla Maria Davis first began dancing salsa in Brooklyn Tech Salsa Club. Enamored by the passion of the movement and rhythms of the music she continued dancing salsa under the instruction of Joe Burgos in the Salsa Mambo Club in City College and Piel Canela Center for Latin Arts. After several years of social dancing and dancing with Latin FX Salsa team, Davis began to study other genres of dance including Hip Hop, West African, and Contemporary forms. Davis graduated from Hunter College with a BA in Dance (2014).
Davis has received several opportunities to work with artists both nationally and internationally. She has performed in the Ticino in Danza Festival in Switzerland (2014), Indorican Multicultural Dance Project, Movement Research, RAW artists showcase, Sybarite Showcase, Upstart Festival at BAX, Dixon Place and Judson. Davis has danced for New York based choreographers Alexandra Amirov of Amaris Dance Company, Gilbert Reyes, Janice Tomlinson, Joya Powell (as an apprentice of Movement of the People Dance Company), Leslie Parker, Kareem Alexander, and Rina Espiritu. Davis worked as the creative/production assistant of Marjani Forté-Saunders. She continues to seek and receive guidance from Forté-Saunders as a mentor.
Davis is currently exploring new roles in her artistic journey as a choreographer and teacher. She uses her time as a performer to cultivate experiences that inform her aspirations. Davis focuses her work on researching and exploring ideas of religion, culture, and ancestry through the vehicle of dance.