William Madrigal and the Traditional Cahuilla (kaweeyah) Bird singers
William Madrigal and the Cahuilla Bird singers and dancers are a group that is part of a long, inter-generational tradition of culture bearers within the local California Indian community. Will and his family are members of the Cahuilla Nation of Southern California, a federally recognized Indian nation. Through life-long commitment, they have been given the gift of bird singing through oral teaching from the elders of the reservation community. They adhere to the strict protocol of the Cahuilla culture in regards to public expression and presentations. The bird songs and dances are a celebration of life for all peoples and are sung throughout southern California today.
“I was not born in a maternity ward. My mother gave birth to me without help of anyone. It happened on the Mexican Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the land where I grew up surrounded by other barefoot and “sodomitic” (as Spanish chronicles described us) Natives. And from this land I nourished myself to do what I call ‘Installation for the Human Body.’ Some call it a happening, others call it a sketch, and still others, a provocation. Perhaps the latter is closest, for my intention is to cut against homophobia with a courageous transvestism that flirts with dance and exhibitionism as it climaxes into the word. I do this from sensuality and life, from consciousness and the body, using the Native and the modern word to disturb orthodoxies of every stripe and to show how sensitivity cuts deeper than the presumed hardness of the hard.
I am well aware of the existence of borders created by politics, societies, cultures, and prejudices. This is why my corporeal installations propose borders as places of encounter, not separation; from this liminal state I stand at the vortex, with my two feet placed on both sides of being ‘man/woman,’ inhabiting reality/utopia, correct/incorrect. Perhaps this is the dichotomy that I like the most, the in/correct; here I feel free, full, true and alive. Because of this, it pleases me that my native culture not be so orthodox in the exercise of life; that is why those who visit Tehuantepec describe it as a society of matriarchs, the quasi-paradise for homosexuals, a totemic, and even ‘primitive’, place.” http://requiemparaunalcaravan.blogspot.mx
Photo credit: Edson Caballero Trujillo
Dakota Camacho is a multi-disciplinary artist / researcher working in spaces of indigenous life ways, performance, musical composition, community engagement, and education. Guiya (they) ground yo’-ña (their) creativity in ancestral life ways. Born and raised in Coast Salish Territory, Camacho’s work weaves knowing from both yo’-ña bloodlines and the diverse lineages that inform yo’-ña indigenizing journey. The work aims to proliferate inafa’maolek — unifying human consciousness with the natural world, restoring balance with the elements, and living with life force.
Chaac & Yum
Javier Stell-Frésquez (Piru & Tigua Native American from El Paso, Texas) serves Indigenous communities of the Bay, on the Two-Spirits Powwow, and will co-produce a Two-Spirit performance festival in Spring of 2020 at CounterpulseSF. With life-long experience in many dance forms, and, more recently, vogue and performance art, she competes in the voguing House Ballroom Scene as “Xav ome’Lauren,” a member of the House of Lauren. She received a B.S. in Environmental Science with honors in Chican@ Studies from Stanford University. He also tours Mother the Verb internationally (next performance June 19 as part of the National Queer Arts Festival).
Snowflake Towers is a Two-Spirit artist who serves as the Co-President of QUIL – Queers United for Intersectional Liberation. She produces queer events throughout California that allow her to curate a vehicle for political, social, and cultural activism through the artistry of her radical queerness.
In addition, she is a professional dancer, teacher and entrepreneur. She is a member of The Haus of Towers, has worked with the BAAITS Powwow committee, teaches decolonization through movement workshops, is the former owner/director of The Dance Zone Studio, and is currently hosting two-spirit talking circles with free healing clinics.
Cuauhtémoc Peranda (Mescalero Apache, Mexika-Chichimeca/Cano ) is a fourth-year Critical Dance Studies Ph.D. student at the University of California, Riverside (UCR). Their academic studies have been supported by the U.S. Department of Education Native American Studies Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (G.A.A.N.N.) Fellowship, the Dean’s Distinguished Doctoral Student Fellowship, and the Max H. Gluck Arts Fellowship. Their research focuses on the history of the United States’ House Ballroom Scene, in particular the West Coast Ballscene, and its involvement in how queer and two-spirit Native Americans of the Western Hemisphere have deployed the dance form of vogue (voguing/Performance) as a method of decolonization, anti-colonialism, transformational resilience, and queer Indigenous knowledge reclamation.
Photo credit: House of Lauren
Fabiola Ochoa Torralba is an immigrant who was born in Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico and raised in the Westside of San Antonio, Texas. Her experience as a grassroots organizer and cultural arts worker has led to unique collaborations with artists, schools, galleries, and non-profit organizations for dancers ranging from inner city youth to senior citizens, refugees, Spanish speakers, LGBTQ groups, and fine arts students. Her research explores intersectional politics, decolonial epistemologies, and (im)migrant identities. They enjoy facilitating dance making opportunities for movers of all backgrounds that explore the relationship between performance and action.
Shash Yázhí, was raised on the Diné (Navajo) reservation in New Mexico. For the last 28 years Shash Yázhí, has implemented traditional Diné practices through working with activists and individuals who wish to create internal healing and balance in their lives. Shash Yázhí conducts individual sessions towards liberation and transformation to promote integrating and connecting the mind, body, heart and spirit.
Shash Yázhí has been at the forefront of advocating for LGBTQ-Two Spirit equality and justice. Currently Shash Yázhí is holding space of embodying a traditional gender society called Four Direction Fire Keepers – Dilbaa and Indigenous gender queer/trans male.
Photo credit: Indigenous Choreographers at Riverside 2018/Jonathan Godoy