DREAMING — a life

Gabriel Mata

As a dance artist, choreographer, and performer, I focus on developing dances to expose truths of artists as people with and within performance. My work is also devised to connect with audiences both with and without artistic backgrounds. While I aim to connect through scenarios that everyone navigates, I also work within themes of unpredictability by recognizing expectation. 

DREAMING is a 50 minute dance theater solo performance, where varying realities are exposed. The art world and the real world meet to expose the nightmares and aspirations that are expressed within the Dreamer/Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) community. The work navigates to expose the psychological and mental trauma that accompanies this situation. Although it is formulated through my own experiences, the work is meant to be observed by anyone not aware of the traumas experienced by Dreamers. Expectation is set even before the audience sits in the theater. The work begins with what an audience may expect: A dance performance. The music and dance end, time to bow, bowing once, twice, and a third time. The bowing continues, and it turns into a plunge a transition, a plunge into sleep, deep sleep, into the depths of the mind. The transition morphs into a contrasting environment, a pedestrian image, laying down in a sleeping position. The positions shift, laying flat on the back position, the face down, the free-faller, and child's pose. The body transitions, it is tossed around, suspended, and frozen in time. Transition, the body is shifting from what is initiated to something that is manipulated, slowly making itself into the distance. The audience is led and mislead as they view the work. The performance and the world that they expected to observe is not so. It is unpredictable, just like the life that immigrants lead in this country.

The work navigates through several episodes within dreams, experiences, and aspirations. The following is a break-down of DREAMING, into nine sections:

  • The Dance 0:00 -4:17): The "expected" dance performance (music and dancing).
  • Deep Sleep (4:18 - 10:12): Transitioning from repetitive bowing, a section of pedestrian qualities that shift into manipulation.
  • Awake (10:13 - 28:00): A change in environment, in the present. Reimagining dreams, nightmares, and experiences. Bound by traumatic experiences but aspiring for a brighter future.
  • Amerika (28:01 - 36:08): The realization of what an "ideal fun dream" would be. However, when something comes true, it is not as you usually visualized it.
  • Run! (36:09 - 38:41): The nightmare, a constant presence that keeps on feeding traumatic reactions.
  • The Wall (38:42 - 43:43): A memory, a moment, and an unforgettable experience. Crossing the border was quite the experience, it will live with me forever. It is an experience that has cause me to be who I am and where I am.
  • The Interrogation (43:44 - 47:07): Only audible section to expose what the vision of my worst nightmare and a transition.
  • Happy Dreamer (47:08 -50:00): The embodiment of what a safe space is, to live in a moment of ease, the calm before the storm.
  • No Bow (Post Performance): An experience emphasizing how someone in my situation may be here one day and not the next.

I premiered DREAMING at the Minnesota Fringe Festival in August 2018. Aside from performing it five times, I was delighted to be able to share the work with audience members who are unaware of the immigrant experience. The audience was able to experience the traumatic repercussions of being an immigrant and the levity within aspirations. DREAMING was awarded the "2018 Minnesota Fringe Festival Audience Pick Award." I strive to share my work with varying audiences: there is no one target audience, because immigrants and Dreamers are in all cultures and identities.

DREAMING could not have been made possible without the generous donors that help fund the project and the Sadie-Rose Artist Residency in Marina, CA.

DREAMING (excerpts)