When people ask me why I still have hope and energy after all these years, I always say: Because I travel. Taking to the road- by which I mean letting the road take you- changed who I thought I was. The road is messy in the way that real life is messy. It leads us out of denial and into reality, out of theory and into practice, out of caution and into action, out of statistics and into stories- in short, out of our heads and into our hearts.
- Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem has always been a shero of mine, but her latest book, "My Life On The Road", officially cemented her place in my Top 5 BadAss Womyn list (along with Audre Lorde, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Rita Moreno, and Badi Assad). In her book, Ms. Steinem talks about traveling being the thing she has most done in her life, but what she has least written about. It has been consistent throughout her life, from the time she was a little girl road-tripping with her dad from job to job and city to city, to her adult career as an organizer and writer.
And that is what Ms. Steinem and I have in common. I am the daughter of two Brazilian diplomats, and by the age of 14 I had lived in six different countries (Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Spain, Japan and the United States) and as an adult, I have made (am making) a career as a choreographer, dancer, and educator, getting to share my art with and learning from communities all over the world.
I came across Ms. Steinem's book two weeks ago, two weeks before I set off for a year of traveling to Los Angeles, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro and New York City for work (and family and life). The timing was perfect. I was drowning in bureaucratic errands preparing for my travels- visas, packing, moving- and wondering what the hell kind of life and family my husband and I were building- would we ever make a "home"? When and, more importantly, where? And did I even want that?
Well, as Ms. Steinem put it, it turns out most people confuse growing up with settling down. And this nomadic lifestyle is able to do two seemingly incompatible things- satisfy our addiction to freedom and love for community. To borrow from Marta Gonzalez of the seminal band out of East LA, Quetzal, I am an artivista, an artist-activist with a mission to contribute to social movements through my art, and in my case, to build a movement through movement.
So yes, traveling allows me to take on residencies and projects that help me pay my bills, but in truth, I keep doing it because, not only does it get me out of my head and into my heart (as put by Ms. Steinem), but out of my head and into my body. It is the only way I know how to live by my core values, to fight injustice and build community. Like Ms. Steinem says, "nothing else allows you to be a full-time part of social change."
So welcome to my blog. It is not a travel blog. It is not a dance blog. It is not an activist blog. It is a blog to observe and notice my own place in the world, to hold myself accountable to my process and values, and to celebrate people's infinite creativity and resilience. It is an artivista's blog.
Act up, engage, and enjoy.