Indigenous Choreographers at Riverside Gathering

May 30, 2019

Hosted and co-directed by Jacqueline Shea Murphy and María Regina Firmino-Castillo

Magnolia Yang Sao Yia, Assistant Coordinator

The Indigenous Choreographers at Riverside (ICR) project is an annual event that brings Indigenous dance artists, Indigenous studies scholars, and dance studies scholars to campus to connect, discuss, and share work. We look at ways Indigenous dance, in diverse forms and locations, engages Indigenous knowledges, and the import of these articulations.

This year’s ICR gathering features workshops, roundtables, and public presentations throughout late May (complete schedule forthcoming). The culminating event is on Thursday, May 30, 6 to 9 p.m., developed in relation with the EXPLODE! Queer Dance Festival and featuring Indigenous dance artists and knowledge holders whose works engage sexual and gender diversity from a multiplicity of perspectives. Participants include: Shashyázhí Charley, Lukas Avendaño, Fabiola Torralba, Javier Stahl Frésquez, Snowflake Towers, Dakota Camacho, Cuauhtemoc Peranda, among other artists to be confirmed soon.


Indigenous Choreographers at Riverside 2019 is presented by the UCR Department of Dance in conjunction with ARTSBlock/Culver Center of the Arts and the EXPLODE! Queer Dance festival, the Costo Chair in American Indian Affairs, the California Center for Native Nations, and UCR Departments of Global Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Ethnic Studies.

This production of ICR 2019 is coordinated in collaboration with EXPLODE! Queer Dance Festival with overlapping programming.


For more information, please contact:

Jacqueline Shea Murphy: jshea@ucr.edu

María Regina Firmino-Castillo: mariafc@ucr.edu

For Travel and Lodging Accommodations, please contact:

Magnolia Yang Sao Yia: myang053@ucr.edu


Featured Photo: Lukas Avendaño in Réquiem por un Alcaraván
Photo Credit:  Mario Patiño


2019 Schedule:

Tuesday, May 28

ICR Workshop by Lukas Avendaño
“Instalación para Cuerpo Humano / Installation for the Human Body”

Location: UCR, Arts Building, ARTS 300
5:00 – 7:30 PM
Free and open to the public with RSVP. Please RSVP HERE.

This workshop introduces Lukas Avendaño’s theory and methodology for performing “Installations for the Human Body.” Somatic training engages the specificity of embodied and virtual memory and activates corpus-as-territory to examine the body as cultural and political construct.  Through the biological body and the performative body (bios-escénico), performance becomes an exercise in survival, rooted in sovereignty, inquiry, and ritualized aggression. Working with objects as extensions of the human body, corporeal sovereignties are activated to create the, “Installation for the Human Body.”

Wednesday, May 29

ICR Workshop by Fabiola Torralba
“Shaking as Ceremonial Space” in relation to “N.I.M.R. (Negra India Morena Roach)” performance on May 30th

Location: UCR, Arts Building, ARTS 300
5:15 – 7:00 PM
Free and open to the public with RSVP. Please RSVP HERE.

This workshop demonstration will explore the significance of shaking isolated parts of the body and as a whole. Through review of movement vocabulary of communities across space and time we will address the implications of race, class, and gender in these forms. Moreover, we will uncover the intersections between Queer, Indigenous, Black, and Brown shaking bodies as sites of resistance and joy.

Thursday, May 30

ICR Gathering 2019:  Querying Queer

Location: Culver Center of the Arts, Coil Brothers Atrium
6:00 – 9:00 PM
Free and open to the public.

William Madrigal and the Traditional Cahuilla Bird Singers, Welcome

Shash Yázhí, Opening Reflection
As a Dilbaa (Indigenous gender queer/trans) healer and guide, Shash Yázhí, holds space for the embodiment of Four Direction Fire Keepers, a traditional Indigenous Dilbaa / transmasculine community.

“Chaac & Yum: Exploring Indigenous Two-Spirit Gender and Sexual Fluidity”
Chaac and Yum is a Two-Spirit lead project that focuses on QTPOC love and relationships, offering glimpses into vulnerabilities, connection to land, and community celebration.

Fabiola Torralba, “N.I.M.R. (Negra India Morena Roach)”
N.M.I.R. explores the identity of a mixed race Afro-Indigenous descendent through social dance movement. Race, sex, gender, class, and colonialism are deconstructed from the lens of a Mexican immigrant who grew up in the U.S. amongst Cumbia, Hip Hop, and Booty dance cultures. The ritual like dance performance is a means to reflect on the representation of past-present-future migrant and diaspora bodies.

Lukas Avendaño, “Réquiem para un Alcaraván”
Réquiem para un Alcaraván is a performative dance of the man-woman.  Zapotec culture, through muxheidad, embraces homosexuality, gayness, and same-sex marriage with certain contradictions: the muxe is a man who assumes the labor roles–but also the affective, emotional, and sexual roles–culturally reserved for women. This makes muxheidad a veiled social acceptance, and at the same time, a celebration of what is considered a transgression. In Réquiem para un Alcaraván the Zapotec man-woman dances and invites the spectator to participate in “female rites of passage:” the traditional wedding; hosting and caring for images of Catholic saints; healing/praying; and mourning. The metamorphosis occurs when the soul incarnates in a local bird called the stone-curlew (berelele in Zapotec; alcaraván in Spanish); here, the male cycle closes once the alcaraván mates. In some cases, the male alcaraván is sacrificed by the female”

Dakota Camacho, “Sounding Circle: Listening and Being Heard”
With audience and invited respondents.

Friday, May 31

EXPLODE! Queer Dance Festival with contribution from Zapotec muxe’ performance artist Lukas Avendaño, “No Soy Persona. Soy Mariposa.”

Saturday, June 1

EXPLODE! Queer Dance Festival with contribution from Zapotec muxe’ performance artist Lukas Avendaño, “No Soy Persona. Soy Mariposa.”

Closing to EXPLODE! Queer Dance Festival:
Two-Spirit Inverted L.S.S. with Cuauhtémoc Peranda (Mescalero Apache, Mexika-Chichimeca/Cano )
This Two-Spirit Inverted Legends, Statements & Stars/Artists/Co-Conspirators/ Witnesses is “a moment to see and  be seen.” Borrowed from the House Ballroom Scene and Two-Spirit traditions, and placed at our festivals’ conclusion (which is its inversion from its normal place of commencing), this is a time on a RUNWAY to honor those present who have helped our time together come to life.

Photo Credit: Indigenous Choreographers at Riverside 2018/Jonathan Godoy


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.

Lukas Avendaño

“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

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

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 Torralba

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

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