Spring Campaign 2022 Featuring: Alfonso Cervera
This Spring, we’re raising $65,000 for Washington State artists! Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have raised and distributed over $1.4 million to hundreds of Washington State artists, and reached thousands more through programming and resources. Your gift today, in any amount, will help us continue to provide critical support and resources for artists. Help us reach our goal and make your gift before June 30!
As part of our Spring Fundraising Campaign, we are interviewing Washington State artists about the ways they have embraced change during the pandemic and what support from Artist Trust has meant for them. This week, we spoke with King County performing artist and 2022 Fellowship Award recipient, Alfonso Cervera about creating more opportunities for artists, how he intertwines his experience as a Mexican American and his queerness in his performance, more. Alfonso shared, “It would be of great impact to these communities as a means to continue their artistic cultural production and to not negate newer generations from entering the performing arts, visual arts, and dance, but to indulge in and to practice these various art forms.”
Read his full interview below!
Tell us a little about your work/artistic practice.
As a current practicing artist, I identify as a dancer, collaborator, performing artist, choreographer and dance educator. I engage in creating work that is performed site-specific, theater, and as installation. I am inclined to use the body as a mechanism to create a relationship with the audience by illuminating my experience of being Mexican-American and by interweaving concepts of queerness, lineage, Mexicanidad, and social folk forms. By interweaving these concepts, I have developed my own technique titled “Poc-Chuc,” which is a mezcla (mixture) of Ballet Folklorico movement, somatic practices, and contemporary modern based aesthetics as a way to reflect my bi-cultural body.
Having been trained as a Mexican Ballet Folklorico dancer and as a modern dancer, Poc-Chuc is a technique and progressive form that investigates the self by allowing the choreographer (me) to stay authentic to the experience and training. By using experimental choreographic aesthetics that disrupt the expectations of the audience, this technique emphasizes, investigates, and exposes my family lineage, my queer body, process of choreography, and the laboring of the Latino dancing body. Being a queer Mexicano, I find that exposing the implications that are placed on Latino/a through culture and politics, is a dialogue to be had with the audience in order to investigate the hyphen between Mexican and American. My choreographic works are inspired by installation artists and dance makers that have contributed to my choreographic approaches in using improvisation, contact, and contemporary embodiments as a way to emphasize the multiplicities of rigor and exhaustion being a person of color. The weave in my research lives and exists in the moment as it is continuously absorbing information from the props, community, and in the action of performing. Through this, sensations, touch, experience, and instinctual movements allow the dance to materialize in various forms that transcend how we see identity and agency in the performance space. I am interested in blurring the line between audience and performer, thus inquiring on the investigation of the many ways the audience supports the dance to be created. To allow agency to exist in various forms as it is shaped through a spectator’s own identity, intimacy between spectator and performer mold and shape the identity of the dance and the body creating the situation in the space to be viewed collectively. It is through this lens and embodiment that my work revels in the desmadre (messiness). I believe my work is always changing, adapting, and evolving to fit my needs as a human experiencing the world and archiving the methodologies and practices from my ancestry and contemporary state.
What have the last two years been like for you and your artistic practice? How have you and/or your work changed in the pandemic?
These two years have been a test of finding artistic survival strategies to continue inventing new ways of creating art in a pandemic. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed to have worked at Cornish College of the Arts with Cornish students where we had the opportunity to create films and live performances that were rooted in collaboration and authentic conversations of how we as a community needed to create together. Since this, my desires to create experimental works that intertwine collaborations across various disciplines have aided my work within the pandemic by including visual projections, experimental sounds, text development, and embodied ways of movement creating. I personally feel that my work has taken a new step of scenic design and creating dances outside of the concert stage.
What are your hopes for the future of artists in Washington State? What would an ideal world look like for artists?
To have consistent funding for everyone would definitely be an ideal world along with the state providing representation and opportunities for all marginalized communities that reside in Washington. It would be of great impact to these communities as a means to continue their artistic cultural production and to not negate newer generations from entering the performing arts, visual arts, and dance, but to indulge in and to practice these various art forms. This would be my ideal world that I think brings together funding, representation, and opportunity for all.
What did the support from Artist Trust’s Grants for Artists’ Progress (GAP) mean to you? What did you do with the support?
Currently, I’m in the development of creating a new work that brings the various Latinx artists and community members together to develop a work that encourages Latinx methodologies, theories, and embodiments of practice that unite our unique aesthetics and choreographic rituals. My proposal here is to collaborate with artists who can create a work that provides newer generations inspiration to become artists and to appreciate the power of dance as a social justice transformation. This support has allowed me to step into new boundaries that I originally didn’t have access to and to fully indulge in my vision in bringing communities and dance together.
How is Artist Trust’s work important to Washington State artists, especially at this moment in history? Why should people support Artist Trust as donors now?
Artist Trust is a great example of how donors can continue to support various artists in their development of their practice and in sustaining an artist life. Artist Trust is integral in allowing Washington artists to continue taking risks as creators and visionaries of the future as a means to continue developing strong artwork that impacts the Washington communities.