Push Dance Company turning 16 with alley show raising money for future home

Raissa Simpson (correct) will work with Push dancers Lydia Clinton (remaining), Niara Hardister, Ashley Gayle, Patrick Secrease, Kao Vey Sebastian Saephanh and Erik Lee. Photograph: Miles Lassi

Turning from San Francisco’s Fifth Avenue on to Minna Street on a the latest Sunday, you’d travel by a tunnel and into a cinematic landscape of damaged glass pipes, dusty loads, unusual 50 %-finished metal towers, and bodies crouched in doorways or huddling underneath a leather jacket or dashing control to suppress. Only by parking and walking could 1 inform the pre-present chaos from the orchestrated choreography.

But if you arrived closer to the masked person rattling the bars on an empty brown brick creating, you’d hear a girl in sweatpants and gold-rimmed eyeglasses indicating, “That’s fantastic, grab the bars. And then possibly you’re peeking through and then you are considering, ‘Why just cannot I get in there?’ And then you are finding far more aggressive.”

That female was Raissa Simpson, and the developing the dancer was rattling is, she hopes, soon to be a household and refuge for her Force Dance Enterprise. Simpson is now operating with the Local community Arts Stabilization Rely on, which was offered the empty Dempster Constructing as aspect of the $1 billion 5M growth of offices and condos that will quickly change this aspect of Minna. Press hopes to secure an very affordable extensive-phrase lease when 447 Minna opens, which Cast projects could happen in early 2022.

In the meantime, Push is scheduled to set on an outdoor web-site-particular efficiency fundraiser titled “Sweet 16 Sixteen” to aid make reality of its vision of a third-floor home encompassing two studios and a “BIPOC Refuge,” a rejuvenating place for artists of coloration. As aspect of the benefit, do the job-in-development performances of Simpson’s new “Emme Ya: Expedition” are set for 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 28-29.  A filmed on-line sneak peek of “Emme Ya” is slated to stream for a month beginning Sept. 16, and the online method is also anticipated to feature a roundtable discussion and interviews.

Terrence Paschal (entrance) and Lydia Clinton. Photo: Miles Lassi

It is a effective resurgence for Simpson after an incredible 12 months of deeply viewed as options.

“There have been all these calls for resilience,” she stated of the year right after COVID-19 shelter-in-position steps commenced. “And I went the other route. I reported, I need to have to know what it is to consider a crack.”

For seven yrs, Force had made an annual showcase of new do the job acknowledged as Pushfest, which had grown from three days in 2014 to a 3-week, 18-choreographer electronic occasion throughout the pandemic in 2020. But when it arrived to 2021, Simpson decided to cancel the competition. In the previous yr, 4 of her 8 dancers had contracted the coronavirus, which was sobering, she stated. She desired time to relaxation, rebuild her mission and be in discussion with fellow customers of Dancing All-around Race, a community of choreographers conference because 2018.

The crack has given Simpson a possibility to gain standpoint on the nomadic way Drive has survived given that she founded the business in 2005, growing its group programming to offer outreach and younger dancer workshops even as it moved involving temporary areas in the Western Addition and Bayview.

And while Minna Road retains the promise for Push of a everlasting house, its landscape of alter — tractors and baggage of cement line the sidewalks — connects to Simpson’s ongoing exploration of displacement.

“We’re asking as nomadic travelers, what is our romantic relationship to the land, this land that is Costanoan and Ohlone land and the Filipino Heritage District,” explained Simpson, who is of Filipino and African American descent. “Here we are again wherever Push began. It feels ambivalent, this reality of forced migration and assimilation into a place in buy to endure. It’s just one detail to do a piece about gentrification and another to be in it.”

Ashley Gayle. Photo: Miles Lassi

“Emme Ya,” whose title references Afrofuturist mythology, will create on these experiential connections and on Simpson’s investigations of internet site-particular work, Black dance history and Afro-futurism, which deepened when she earned a master’s diploma in theater and dance from UC Davis in 2016.

“She genuinely arrived to a feeling that dance is an integral expression of the Black entire body and a resource of survival for people today of coloration and enslaved folks of the African diaspora,” reported UC Davis Professor Emerita Halifu Osumare, creator of the memoir “Dancing in Blackness” and adviser of Simpson’s graduate thesis. “I see Raissa as pretty much a modern day-day Katherine Dunham, a dance maker and philosopher-scholar. She’s intrigued in dance and motion and social issues at the exact time.”

(Scenario in place: Simpson contributed a chapter on Afrofuturism to “Critical Black Futures,” an anthology lately released by Palgrave Macmillan.)

Simpson is commencing a placement as a lecturer in dance at Stanford College this fall. But as eddies of gravel blew down Minna and a stranger performing some thing covert in a urine-soaked corner put a shirt back again on and walked off, she was continue to deeply connected to town reality. Leaving the solo dancer at 447 Minna to improvise with his bar-rattling, she walked toward Fifth, exactly where a team of women of all ages were participating in a singsong sport she had questioned them to improvise. Her collaborators’ laughter reverberated as a result of the tunnel at her method.

“Sweet 16 Sixteen”: Drive Dance Organization. 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 28-29. $20-$100. 447 Minna St., S.F. Also streaming on the web Sept. 16-Oct. 16. $16-$50. www.pushdance.org/sweet16