How many communities do you belong to? What defines community? How can we connect and share common goals among multiple communities? These are questions I ask when creating dances with people of different ages, backgrounds, race, sexuality, and gender. I am a Latinx mother, daughter of two immigrants, resident of the Mt. Airy neighborhood, a dance educator working in the Fairhill, Germantown, Mt, Airy, and Kensington neighborhoods. The intersectionality of the culture, race, and gender of those with whom I create with has a significant impact on my work. My creative process crosses barriers by finding universal themes, shared spaces, and common interest across multiple communities. In this project, I aim to create work that reaches the riders of the 23 SEPTA bus from Chestnut Hill to Center City. “Along the 23” also has the power to bring new interest and people to multiple public spaces that make these communities unique and enriched. I find riding public transportation a communal experience and one that can be enhanced through a project that features the artists, filmmakers and dancers who live and work in the neighborhoods “Along the 23.” My project will bring together artists of multiple disciplines to enhance and contribute to a community piece. Philadelphia has long been called the “city of neighborhoods,” and the route of the 23 bus represents a kaleidoscope of neighborhoods, but, as the project will explore, there are common threads that connect these neighborhoods.
Since moving to Philadelphia in 2015, I have placed works by my dance company, Expansions Contemporary Dance Ensemble, in multiple places around the city, from the Schuylkill River to the Fingerspan Bridge in the Wissahickon park. In a virtual work featured in the 2020 Fringe Festival, I brought dance to multiple locations in Mt. Airy, Norris Square, and Fairhill through the technology of active QR codes and a project-specific map the audience member used to guide a walking tour. I would make use of the same QR technology for “Along the 23.” With music composer Christopher Farrell, I will capture the sights, movement, and sounds of the neighborhoods, then integrate them into the music and choreography for the diverse dancers and dance styles of Expansions, from Hip Hop to classical ballet.
For the audience of this self-guided bus/walking tour, “Along the 23” would be a full sensory experience: you will see dance while enjoying the local smells, tastes, and sounds unique to different stops along the bus route. Catch a cheesesteak at Max’s while watching dance from the QR code at the Broad and Erie stop. At Germantown Avenue and School House Lane, enjoy a cup of coffee from Uncle Bobby’s Coffee & Books and then find an original poster featuring the diverse ballerinas of International Ballet Exchange. Enjoy Puerto Rican pastelillos while listening to the sounds of Bomba and experiencing work of artists from Taller Puertorriqueño. “Along the 23” will take you across the city and into the heart of our shared and varied experiences.