Pieces of Her Dance Project

Mami Luisa on the phone with daughter Rosa, holding grandson Logan, and folding granddaughter Yey Ming's laundry. 
Of course, I helped after I put the camera down :)

February 25, 2016 Audition for REDCAT Studio in Los Angeles, CA
RedCat Audition: Pieces of Her #4 Fly performed at RedCat for a Studio Showcase audition on February 25th. Present: Jonathan Hernandez, Aaron Wilson, Victoria Kabwe, Rosa Navarrete. Wish us luck!

March 10, 2016 #Livart Casa 0101 Performance
I was invited to perform an excerpt of Pieces of Her #4 Fly using a poem written by Lindsey Haley entitled "Chingasos Make a Good Poet." Video by Lupe Arellanes. Location: The Last Bookstore in DTLA. Thank you to that supervisor at The Last Bookstore who was open to having an impromptu performance in their space.

December 4-5, 2015, Pasadena City College Fall Dance Concert
Developed "Pieces of Her: Installation #4" aka Fly with PCC Dance Department students. This time, there will be men on stage. Original dance motifs are blended with new developed work. Poetry by Lindsey Haley, Music by Nina Simone. Dancers: Alicia Moseley, Jonathan Hernandez, Victoria Kabwe, Aaron Wilson, Rosa Navarrete.
Event: Facebook

Saturday, 8pm Excerpt

August 4, 2015
A poem for Mami.
She's gone.

November 16, 2014
In La'kech: Palabras del Corazón, La Peña Cultural Center, Berkeley, CA
In Lak’ Ech is a Mayan greeting and principle meaning, tu eres mi otro yo, you are my other self. In Lak’Ech: Palabras del Corazón brings to center stage original theatrical works of diverse and underrepresented voices in this new project developed and workshopped at La Peña Cultural Center. | Directed by Diana Alicia Cervera, Co-Produced by Ramona Rodriguez Brookes
Site: lapena.org
Event: Facebook

January 2014
Integrated Movement Studies presentation of Luisa Chores, in movement. I wrote an Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis paper on this performance work. It took a few drafts to get it right. Here is the video showing briefly her movement study.

December 16, 2013
Journal Entry
I am currently in Perú collecting my grandmother's stories. Some are filmed, some are hand written, and some are pure conversation. She's doing well, fighting skin cancer, and living life with her two grandchildren Yey Ming and Logan. Mami Luisa stays indoors these days, but loves to go out to shop groceries and get away from my grandpa sometimes. In the day she wears hats with huge sunglasses. Now that I'm visiting, Mami Luisa always reminds me that life is hard, and I always remind her about the positive things in life. It is a tired conversation of positive and negative energies, but a necessary one to keep me grounded and to keep her uplifted. When all the grandchildren leave the house now, she sits on the table beside me and writes down her stories. I've tasked her this to keep her memories colorful and alive; and these memories come in all shapes and sizes. Imagine a world of aliens, devils, godmothers who promise you riches, thieves entering a house in the middle of the night and my Mami Luisa with a large kitchen knife chasing them out. Though she might dwell in the negative, there is always a spark in her eye and a smile across her face.  "Que cosas no me an pasado!"/"The things I've seen!" I will never forget this trip. I am gradually learning to accept and love things as they are. It's a hard pill to swallow, but thank goodness I am getting older. I'm learning I can't do everything, and that frankly I shouldn't. Mami Luisa always says life is tough. The roughness has made her stubborn beyond belief! The roughness has also made her a valuable presence in all of our lives. In this home, women rule. There are more women in our generation. Sometimes we're too loud, sometimes we scream, sometimes we spread our legs when we watch television, sometimes when we laugh our mouths open too wide. My uncle Santos complained to me the other night as we drank coffee and ate bread together, "Why does your auntie have to yell so loud?!" Complaining about her while she expressed herself as privately as she could in the next room. It left me thinking for a moment. Then I saw my grandmother enter the house with a bag of goodies to cook. "Maybe," I said, "maybe we scream a little louder because the woman before us couldn't. Maybe we're just a little rougher around the edges because back then she could only be delicate. Maybe we're screaming about something that happened much before we were even born. Maybe it's a secret that lives in our blood." And he raised his eyebrows and said, "Hmm, maybe." I am ready to get back to writing.

April 2013
Early Development
Natalie Marsh, Rosa Navarrete, and Daniella Aboody
Photo by Ariel Aboody .  Edited by Rosa Navarrete



Pieces of Her was inspired by Rosa Navarrete's grandmother Luisa. Multimedia art is used to show the complexities behind her relationship with her grandmother, and to show the complexities behind the search for self. Elements in the project: film, dance, theater, sound recordings, and masks. Rosa Navarrete explores the various forms of self by sharing her personal experience of detachment. She focuses the effects of immigration, as uses video projection to distort the appearance of stability. Individuality is challenged through the exploration of common gestures, voice qualities, and personality traits that are inherent in ones ancestry. The piece brings to life the memories of the represented grandmothers on stage. Rosa explains, "The desire to explore my identity through my grandmother became the desire to understand her history and my future. I feel as though our culture and language are slowly slipping away from me because of distance and separation. Pieces of Her has become a project about the power and fragility behind identity, and the healing that can arise from expressing the frustration behind various sides of ourselves."


Pieces of Her
 tells a non-linear story about three women remembering their grandmothers, embodying their grandmother, and exploring their identity in space using the movement vocabulary built around the collected gestures and practices. Heritage, culture, family traditions, and individuality were brought to the stage.

Rosa participated in the From the Field to the Table performance, organized by the Urban Bush Women Leadership Institute and the Theater, Dance and Performance Studies Department at University of California, Berkeley. Rosa was curious about how her sense of self had morphed due to her distance from her native country Perú, and compares her experience with her grandmother's life. In the process, Rosa Navarrete and dancers Natalie Marsh and Daniella Aboody gained some insight about the women who lived before them, gaining a new sense of value behind the realities that came to being who you are in present time. How learning about the past and where you come from can provide knowledge and guidance for your future. The experience is expressed mostly through dance movement.


I wondered if my physical body walked and talked the way my grandmother walked and talked, and if I had somehow carried over a way of looking at myself based on the things she had grown up with in her own life experience. Can insecurities, injuries, memories, and even encounters be influenced by the DNA we carry with us. My exploration began first with my memories of my grandmother Luisa. I wrote about her physically, spiritually, and jotted down notes about her body language and body movements I had seen her do over the years. This process has been solely my point of view. After exploring the body, I went into the space. I questioned if I had a different perspective of my body and personality because of where I grew up - the United States, versus her living in Perú all of her life. This also applied when discussion our differences in age.

Rosa: granddaughter, lives in the United States, graduated college, unmarried.
Luisa: grandmother, lives in Lima, Perú, didn't finish high school, married over forty years, seven children.

Questions I asked myself:
  • Am I missing a part of who I am because of our distance? 
  • Are my experiences in the States liberating her from a history of -- marriage at the age of fifteen, six children, taking care of everybody but herself (for most of her life)?
  • Did she see herself as trapped, or is that just a perception I have based on my experiences outside of Perú?
  • How can I hold onto my roots and still survive in a country built for assimilation?
  • Do I have body stories that belong to her? 
  • If I am not 100% American, and 100% Peruvian - where do I belong? - (Space, Body)

Though I kept bouncing between possible super topics like Distance and Age Difference, neither really summarized what I wanted to fully express. My initial inquiry of Identity through the understanding of my grandmother, was becoming heavy and overwhelming. I wondered if I was consciously or unconsciously moving away from my Identity, or if I was attending to aspects of the life she wanted to accomplish through my being. In summation, What if I was not just me but also pieces of Luisa and the things she carried before her? Was I an individual or a ripple effect from her experiences? I was curious to know if my dancers thought of themselves as individuals, pieces of their past, or both? What are we claiming when we say we are individuals? And what are we letting go of when we say we are individuals? 


I went to the Immigration Symposium in the Spring of 2013 at University of California, Berkeley, and they talked about the effects of trauma on immigrant families both in the states and living in their original countries. The feeling of inferiority and the fear of being caught can be passed down to our children; furthermore, this dance has also transformed into a healing experience for me. I am making a dance about my history, my roots, and the effects of separation in my family. My Identity has had to morph from Peruvian to American over the years, and now what do I do with this label? I ask myself this question sometimes. This label that has had a detrimental effect on my culture. When I am in Perú, I am not considered a full Peruvian. When I am in the States, I am not a full "American." I live in this in-between world where Identity is in a constant flux, and it's hard to find a home.

I am not alone in this. I have found that for me, personally, the more I assimilate the more I loose a sense of self preservation. I love living in the United States, and the freedom it has provided me. Freedom, that when compared to my grandmothers' life, has allowed me to have opportunities and access to education she has not. Like all good things, it comes at a cost. To live in the in between, can sometimes mean to live in the unknown. That affects who I am everyday. The desire to explore my Identity through my grandmother has become the desire to understand her history and my future. I feel as though our culture and language are slowly slipping away because of distance and isolation. Pieces of Her has become a project about the power and fragility behind identity, and the healing that can arise from expressing these sides of ourselves.

Rosa Navarrete, Natalie Marsh, and Daniella Aboody
Photo by Ariel Aboody

Bringing Other Stories

Upon meeting my dancers Daniella Aboody and Natalie Marsh in Spring of 2013, I realized that the dance cannot solely be about my grandmother. Hearing their stories assured me that we all had to share a little bit of our own histories on stage. How do we honor their voices? How do we honor the women we were planning on representing? We asked one another the following questions:

 Who are you? 
Why are you here? 
How did you get here? 
Who sheltered you?
What is your history?

As we spoke out loud, we realized quickly our advantage to being young educated women in the United States. I personally thought about my circumstances and the vast difference in my grandmother's life. Why did my grandmother grow up in an oppressed environment? What does it mean that I don't have to? Is my freedom her freedom too? Do my actions reflect her behaviors? Am I me or am I pieces of her? Is she me? Are we both? Are we connected from a distance? 

This performance is still a work-in-progress. As of now, I am swimming in a lot of various elements: street performance, abstract masks, video projections, and original monologues. We wanted to represent our grandmothers in various ways. Daniella Aboody's monologue is about her grandmother Sylvia; she is touched by her grandmother's strong presence and her love of dance. My monologue is about a memory with my grandmother Luisa; she is sarcastically gentle and holds onto many family secrets. Natalie has never met her grandmother; therefore, Natalie created a monologue that expresses how sometimes she feels invisible. The monologues are personal, anecdotal, and gifts to honor those particular women we feel are part of  who we are today.

Are we individuals or are we echoes from her past?

What's Next?

I am a recent graduate of Integrated Movement Studies and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst. I am using the Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) and Bartenieff Fundamentals training to assist me in furthering the exploration of the body.

I workshopped Pieces of Her at La Peña Cultural Center and will be presenting it's third iteration at the In Lak' Ech: Palabras del Corazón, and recently at my alma mater - Pasadena City College for their Fall 2015 performance "Searchlight" with student dancers. We will see where the story takes us.

If you have any questions, or would like to be added to the mailing list for updated news on POH feel free to email me at Rosa.L.Navarrete@gmail.com with your contact information, subject line: Pieces of Her: Information.

Dancers: Daniella Aboody, Natalie Marsh, and Rosa Navarrete
Photo by Ariel Aboody .  Edited by Rosa Navarrete

Email:  Rosa.L.Navarrete@gmail.com