Juanita Suarez has applied for a full-year sabbatical for 2015- 16. The intention of this research project is to delve deeply into the Mexican American migrant experience, paying particular attention to how the life of a migrant was reported taking place in San Antonio, Texas and Lansing, Michigan during the years 1947 – 52. By drawing from the stories told by migrant workers in these locations, she intends to create an interdisciplinary performance for Latino dance students enrolled at the University of Texas, El Paso (UTEP) Department of Dance.
Her reason for doing research in these particular locations and years is based on a personal history as a migrant. She was born Mexican American and raised by a family that migrated and worked as migrants; her family traveled from San Antonio, Texas in 1952 and headed North to Lansing, Michigan where there was work to be had during that year. Since those years she moved far away from her culture and assimilated into the world of the university. The consequence of leaving an extensive family behind in San Antonio has impacted her family in a way that is unexplainable. Her familia suffered a dysfunction and fragmentation she is sure is common among many migrant families.
In her words, “I would like to now “go back for the others” and for that other part of me that has been lost and almost forgotten. I have a dire need to create and write about it (as Sandra Cisneros coaxed me to do) so as to stem the cultural amnesia I suffer, and address the sense of loss many others suffer too. I am aware of personal movements and how economic pressures, the need to be successful in the United States, made it easy for me to not be aware and actually indifferent to my Latina heritage. For always there has been the practical reality of functioning effectively in the dominant culture of Euro-America.”
Juanita has been commissioned to work with Melissa Hauschild-Mork, Bill Evans, and Jacqueline Smith-Autard of Bedford Interactive of England. The responsibilities include creating a script for software that will promote the art of teaching a master work. The software will record the master work of “Colony” a work created by Evans based on the colonial movements and the response of aboriginal cultures to such movements. The dance will be recorded by 6 cameras and will be performed by dancers at Dean College where Evans teaches. The project will be sponsored by Routledge Press. Juanita has also been invited to work with dance educator Karen Bradley, to serve on a think-tank committee supporting new developments in Dance and Neuroscience. Neuroscientists have discovered the amazing brain of the dancer and are currently involved in research to understand the activities of the dance brain using EEG monitoring. The last experiment tried to record the movements in the brain taking place when a dancer lifted a single arm, performing a simple gesture. The super computer involved crashed. Now the research has been animated by the intrigue these scientists have derived by noting the complexity of how we think when we dance.
This month of November 2014, Juanita presented a group dance, Gemini, for DANSCORE, the faculty concert offered annually by the College at Brockport Department of Dance. She also attended the National Dance Education Organization Conference held in Chicago. While at NDEO she contributed to the final vote of the Vision Statement supporting Dance 2050, which has been in process for three years. She will be involved with disseminating information concerning this new movement to universities, and other dance organizations throughout the coming year.