“I was making phone calls and signing petitions and going on marches and spending too much time on Facebook,” says Amina Re. She’s recounting her activist efforts in the time since January’s presidential inauguration, a flurry of activity that left her oddly frustrated. “I thought, ‘I’m an artist, I want to do my art.’ That’s the artist’s role: to bring change.”
Re has been painting for 25 years, and commenced a foray into performance art about three years ago. She was involved in Santa Fe's strain of the Occupy movement in 2011 and has organized a series of open mic nights to encourage community members to speak out. Perhaps, Re thought, her art and activism could fall into rhythm. She emailed 10 local artists—all women—and asked if they'd like to put on a show.
"I said, 'I want to do a performance where everyone has their own piece in response to the current sociopolitical climate,'" Re says. That was a little over two months ago, and the impromptu collective has shifted in membership as word passed through the creative community. The performance, "Fierce Feminine Risings," debuts this Saturday and features eight artists: seven women and one man. Each performer presents a vignette exploring the transformative power of feminine energy and its persistence in the face of violence and oppression.
Re initially met with local dancer Emmaly Wiederholt, and they worked to set a date and line up a venue. They connected with Elise Gent, owner of the Railyard Performance Center, who offered up her space. Gent also expressed interest in performing, and soon other artists organically entered the project's orbit.
Lianne Joy, who participated in Re’s open mic nights and implements dance and theater into her work as a counselor, came on board. Fe Fox, who has a background in circus performance and collaborates with Re on contact improvisation workshops, threw his hat in the ring. Re engaged Robin Duda, an actress she has admired in a number of community theater productions.
They were intent on reaching outside of their immediate circles to reflect the diversity of Santa Fe's larger community. "The majority of us were white women, and most of us were doing some kind of dance thing," Re says. "I remember thinking, 'I need to bring diversity into my sphere.' Then I realized that what I need to do is actually leave my sphere. I need to step out of my zone and be ready to listen."
They reached out to Esmé Olivia, a Dutch and Mestiza poet, dancer and singer who was born and raised in New Mexico. Just a few weeks ago, multidisciplinary artist Sina Soul—who has Pacific Islander, North African and Latina roots—joined the effort.
As the show took shape, the fledgling group examined their motives and came up with a message. "In some ways, I think the activism I was participating in was a more masculine way," says Re. "'Let's fight. Let's resist.' That's not what's true in me. I want to get a bigger vision of the world, or be a mirror of the culture to hold up." Early on, they considered naming the performance "Fierce Feminine Resistance," but decided the title was too reactionary. They wanted to reflect a new path for the world rather than playing into a partisan feedback loop.
With the performance swiftly approaching, the artists convened to come up with an introduction that would set the tone for the interconnected pieces. "We just needed something that would help the audience get grounded and present," says Re. "We had to communicate that this is not a light, chit-chatty thing." The performances include stories of sexual violence and healing, parenting in the face of an uncertain global future, and the objectification of women. With a sliding scale ticket price of $10 to $20 (and no one will be turned away for lack of funds), the show also supports nonprofit organizations Girls Inc. and Honor the Earth.
At first, the group's ideas for the introduction were elaborate and opinions were strong and scattered. Re was concerned that the group would break apart before the performance. "Within the hour, we all had a chance to speak and come up with a new plan," she says. "I thought, 'Wow—this is what strong, conscious women who have been around a while and know how to communicate can do together.' What if we had more of that in our political system?"
Fierce Feminine Risings
7:30 pm Saturday April 29. $10-$20 (no one turned away).
Railyard Performance Center,
1611 Paseo de Peralta,