Controlled Burn artist Nakita Kirchner on performance for political and social change.
Talk about your background. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production?
The work I create comes from the impetus of justice. In working with Ananya Dance Theatre and creating work for Dear Gaza (2018, 2019), I investigate the ways in which performance serves as a modality of political and social change. To this production, I bring my experience as a collaborator from past works such as Jaga Qalubna , co-choreographed by Fei Bi Chan.
What motivates your work as an artist?
I am motivated by the potential of dance to serve marginalized communities. I am grateful to have the role models I do in this performance community, and I want to continue that legacy as a growing choreographer and artist.
And which artists and performances have inspired you?
I was beyond inspired by Leila Awadallah’s work Ras Abu ‘Ammar is Here, performed at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, MI this past November. I’m greatly inspired by Leila in general, and chose to focus my senior undergraduate research project on this performance. I’m inspired by the academic intersection of dance and identity, especially identities that have not always been academically considered or even acknowledged.
Aside from your artistic work, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies or passions in life?
In addition to studying dance at the University of Minnesota, I also study Arabic and Gender, Women & Sexuality studies. I enjoy volunteering teaching English as a second language to immigrants and refugees. I also love to study the works of scholars such as Jasbir Puar and Lila Abu-Lughod.
What’s your favorite thing to do in the Twin Cities?
I enjoy taking walks near the Haha Wakpa/Wakpa Tanka (Mississippi River) in both St. Paul and Minneapolis. I’m honored to witness the beauty of Mni Sota Makoce as I learn more about my responsibilities as a non-indigenous person born and living on this occupied land.
Who are your favorite artists right now and why?
One of my favorite artists right now is Fargo Tbakhi, a queer Palestinian-american artist based in DC. Fargo is an incredible poet who writes about the future of Palestine and ancestral knowledge, and tours his performance work entitled My Father, My Martyr, and Me. Fargo graciously agreed to collaborate with me last year by recording his poem In the year 2148, Wajieh gets Married in Al Khalil, to which I then created choreography that I performed at Dear Gaza (2019).
Nakita will be performing on Saturday, February 15 @ 7:30pm at Controlled Burn: Queer Performance for a World on Fire.