Momentos and Artifacts
Amazing Women and Monumental
Changes in the Business!
I am honored to know some fiercely remarkable artists who take my breath away and leave me re-inspired to create art. In August of 2016, I was fortunate to be one of the headlining talents for the Jamballah NW dance festival in Portland, OR. Serena Spears noticed that for the very first time, all of the African American women from the professional circuit of transnational fusion dance were going to be together at the same engagement. We captured this historic connection with this photo. So much bad-ass, “Blackgirl magic” in one place is almost a heart overload. Thank you sisters, and cheers to many years ahead of us.
Top row left to right: Makeda Gershenson, Rin Ajna, Donna Mejia. Middle row Left to Right: Ebony, Serena Spears, Constance WinYaa. Kneeling in front left to right: Morgan Fay and Bevin Victoria Solmon
Donna Mejia receives Fulbright Association’s Selma Jeanne Cohen Endowed Lecture Award
In October of 2011 Donna Mejia was selected by the Fulbright Association to present the 2011 Selma Jeanne Cohen Fund lecture for International Scholarship on Dance in Washington D.C., notably for her 2011 graduate thesis “Digital Diasporas and Transnational Dance Communities: The Effects of the Internet on Identity Formation and Collective Cultural Memory.” Thank you Fulbright Association!
Say WHAT?! A downloadable app called “Dancing Donna!” Hmmmm…
Extraordinary gift from/by Dane Bauer Hassid: “For the Bellydancers”
This dance comes from sword and sun-cracked land.
In her journey, she discovered oceans, thunderstorms, mountains of green.
She comes to you, shoes filled with motherland sand
so her feet will feel at home wherever they walk.
She appears loose in her skin. Too many women have asked to try it on
and tossed it back when they found it too big for their cameras.
Let your body be a place she can rest joyfully,
a peaceful ground of curves like the dunes she’s homesick for.
But from the back of the studio, I can see you avoiding your eyes in the mirror
the way my daughter does when she knows she’s about to be scolded.
I say nothing.
A dancer knows there is no greater punishment than her own shame.
Your body wants to please you, and you can only point to where it fails.
You demand the same from me:
break dance into a thousand scattered pieces for us to examine and collect!
See, teacher! Look, I got this piece, and this piece and –
Our bodies hold language clenched like an immigrant child’s native tongue.
Your muscles lie silent. Start talking!
This is an immersion class. You will stumble.
Your spine will not take orders easily.
You and your body are speaking different languages, and I am not your translator.
I can only show you what can happen when you listen.
First, you will uncover beats:
your hips will twitch when they hear thunder,
your feet will fall into step with raindrops,
and your sapling arms will move with small breezes.
Dance is the art of making peace. A moving body only becomes a dance
when your blood-rivers refuse to carry
any more ships armed with self-hatred and harsh thoughts.
A body cannot roll without breasts, ribs, belly, hips and fingertips.
This dance was not born from your (white) body, but treat her like an honored guest.
Give her entrance to the place you’re afraid to touch;
she will not hurt you.
Let her play with you.
Tell her she looks good on you.
Tell her out loud.
She will wear each drop of sweat like a jewel in her crown, so work until you both shine.
Speak to your reflection as though you’re courting a queen
and if you’re kind enough,
she’ll ask you to dance.
-Dane Bauer Hassid, 2008-
Writer, Wandering Minstrel and General Mischief-Maker