May 22, 2023

DC Teacher Mar Undag & Gabriel Bruno Eng Gonzalez

Plus, an APPI Month playlist curated by Mar

As we wrap up AAPI month, we're excited to highlight two of our very own Dance Church teachers and dance artists: Gabriel Bruno Eng Gonzalez and Mar Undag. Both Gabriel and Mar bring their unique perspectives, experiences, and talents to their work, creating art that is powerful, joyful, and deeply rooted in their identities as AAPI artists 💫

We had the opportunity to ask Gabriel and Mar some questions about their work, their influences, and their experiences as AAPI artists. Read what they had to say below 👇

Don’t forget to catch Gabriel and Mar’s classes during the last week of the month. Sign up for class with Mar in Brooklyn here and class with Gabriel in Urbana here. They will be incorporating some of their favorite AAPI musicians into their classes. Mar has curated a special playlist featuring some of his favorite artists for listeners to enjoy.

🌸 Gabriel Bruno Eng Gonzalez 🌸

→ What inspired you to become a multidisciplinary artist, and how do you see your work as a reflection of your identity and experiences as an AAPI artist?

🌸 Gabriel: I think being AAPI is very multidisciplinary! My family is mixed race so there was always multidisciplinary navigation going on in terms of perspectives and cultures just within our house. My parent’s cultures did clash at times but more commonly; I found harmonies. And it was in those interesting harmonies that I began to understand the role I wanted art and art making to take on for me. Being AAPI is multidisciplinary to me because of this twoness, this ‘hyphenated-ness’ and how it not only showed up in my house but also my experience as a citizen. When COVID hit, all my dance work became video-dance work. Video became not only a platform but an instant way to deal with feelings of being misrepresented or underrepresented. Multiple media art shifts an audiences’ perception of performance by really directing gaze and calling attention to ideas such as; how fast we’ve become a video-dominated culture and where we might be heading next. 

→ How has dance helped you connect with your communities and share their histories and stories?

🌸 Gabriel: OMG! Dance is so powerful for finding shared histories! When we dance, we tap into something primal and universal - a sense of joy, release, and connection; I've definitely had moments where dance transcended language barriers and culture shock (as cliche as that may be). People see you when you’re giving into the music! the moment!! the movement!!! And people feel invited to let go themselves! When they see that release and when the space invites that. And what is that if not connection? Dance with me! 

→ When is the next time we can see you in performance/on stage/ or presenting work?

🌸 I will be performing in Deke Weaver’s latest iteration of the Unreliable Bestiary at The Stock Pavilion at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign, IL) on Thurs Sept 28-Mon Oct 2. Deke is Inspired by the unreliable narrator and the medieval bestiary, which gave every living thing a spiritual purpose, The Unreliable Bestiary is an ark of stories about animals, our relationships with them, and the worlds they inhabit. CETACEAN (The Whale) will be the 6th performance in the Unreliable Bestiary! Hope to see you there!

⭐️ Mar Undag ⭐️

→ How has your Filipino heritage influenced your work as a movement artist and dance teacher?

⭐️ Mar: I am on this continuous journey of reconnecting to my Filipino roots. I immigrated to the USA at a young age and I am exploring the balance between what was lost when I came here and what still lives within me, ingrained in my mind and body. I sometimes feel like a phony because I really want to have this revelatory experience that will somehow speak to all of the different parts of my life and experiences all at once, but right now creating mostly feels like honoring instinct, trying not to overthink, and giving myself a warm hug. 

→ What do you hope audiences take away from your work as a movement artist and dance teacher?

⭐️ Mar: As a movement artist and dance teacher, I hope to inspire audiences to connect with their bodies, their communities, and their cultural heritage. I want people to feel the joy and power of movement, and to see themselves and their experiences reflected in the work. I also hope to create a space where people can come together, share their stories, and feel seen and held.

→ When is the next time we can see you in performance/on stage/ or presenting work?

⭐️ Mar: I will be performing with Matthew Westerby at the Whitney Museum of American Art in June! The piece is entitled “The Piers Project” a co-production of Matthew Westerby Company & Hudson Guild Theatre Company, is inspired by the history and documentation of the world that existed on Manhattan's west side piers in the 1970s and 80s. In the post-Stonewall era, the area became a space of sexual freedom and creative expression among the crumbling relics of the piers. Through photographs and first-hand written accounts capturing the scene, dancers imagine the moments and movements that occurred there, creating a dance work that evokes the freedom, exuberance, anonymity, and dangers of the piers during this time. 

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We're honored to have Gabriel and Mar as part of our larger Dance Church community, and we're grateful for the ways that they inspire us to move, create, and connect with our communities. We hope that you'll take some time to learn more about their work and support AAPI artists and communities all year round. Happy AAPI month 💫

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