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Dance for Social Justice™

Dance for Social Justice™ Community Residency with Mar Parrilla and Pittsfield Moves!

Open to Berkshire-region community members and beyond!

Boston-based Afro-Indigenous/Afro-Taíno Borikua choreographer Mar Parrilla, Artistic Director of Danza Orgánica, and Claudia Elena Varela, Danza Orgánica artist, in partnership with the Pittsfield Moves! community initiative, will lead a community-based movement residency based on Danza Organica’s practice and signature workshop: Dance for Social Justice™ (DSJ).

This workshop series engages Berkshire-region community members and local organizations in this practice of storytelling and community building through movement with a decolonizing and antiracist framework. The aim of DSJ is to connect participants to their own creative expression and to build understanding of movement as a tool for communication.

Dance for Social Justice is a seven-part series designed as a communal experience with no dance experience required; all workshops will be hosted virtually for the safety and accessibility of participants during the ongoing pandemic.

Sign up for our three-part workshop series (we encourage attending at least two workshops in the series):

  • Friday, November 6 | 5-7pm EST
  • Tuesday, November 10 | 5-7pm EST
  • Saturday, November 21 | 10am-12pm EST
Click here to register today!

About the Workshops

Who is this for?

DSJ workshops are open to all Berkshire County-region residents, artists, and/or community organizers. Free; all are welcome, no previous experience necessary.

What can I expect?

Explore movement towards liberation and social change through DSJ. The workshop series are based on: 

  • movement exercises aimed to reconnect with our creative expression
  • learning tools for creating dance compositions
  • and focusing on clear ways to express social concerns through movement. 

DSJ facilitators recognize that community narratives can be embodied, making movement a clear and creative way to express and transform these experiences. Prioritizing liberation and anti-oppression, workshops seek inspiration for participants to explore sustainable ways to address their concerns within an intentional and supportive community.

What could my commitment look like?

The virtual residency begins with three creative movement workshops introducing participants to the Dance for Social Justice™ practice. Attending two of the three workshops is strongly encouraged.

These are followed by a deeper commitment to four workshops focused on co-creating work in response to themes that emerge from our community. Participation in these workshops with be compensated. The series culminates in an informal sharing of work with a Q&A session. All workshops, discussions, and sharings will be hosted on Zoom, with facilitators and participants attending remotely. Sessions will be led by Mar Parrilla, collaborator Claudia Elena Varela, with guest artists and educators.

How can I get involved?

No special preparation needed; simply register, click the Zoom class link, and join in this process. We encourage you to find a safe, open space to move in and make sure to modify any movement as needed.

To register for this workshop series, click here.

  • Please read the Participant Waiver and Release of Liability. By clicking the link and joining class, you will be agreeing to the waiver.
  • Watch your inbox for a personal Zoom link. 
  • A reliable internet connection is required, as is a device with a camera and speakers such as a phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer with a webcam.
  • Download Zoom; no account needed.
  • Participants are encouraged to wear clothes comfortable for movement such as comfortable pants or leggings, and a t-shirt.

New to Zoom? Here is a brief instructional video. You are not required to create a Zoom account for this event.

If you have questions about the workshops or special accommodations, please contact us as [email protected].

Pittsfield Moves! launched in Fall 2017 as a year-long artist residency led by choreographer Paloma McGregor (Director of Angela’s Pulse) and MK Abadoo (Lead Facilitator of Angela’s Pulse) alongside Berkshire County partner organizations Youth Alive!, NAACP – Berkshire County Branch, Manos Unidas Multicultural Education Cooperative, Railroad Street Youth Project, Berkshire Children & Families, and Transformative Development Initiative, among others. Originally conceived by Jacob’s Pillow with The Berkshire Bridges – Working Cities Pittsfield and Angela’s Pulse, Pittsfield Moves! is rooted in developing a practice of storytelling and relationship building through movement to address issues that affect Berkshire communities. Learn more about Pittsfield Moves! and our partners here.

Mar Parrilla (she/her/hers) is the founding artistic director of Danza Orgánica (2007) and the recipient of several awards from the New England Foundation for the Arts and the Boston Foundation, among others. She is a leader in the arena of dance as a method for social change. A Boston-based choreographer and educator, Parrilla was born and raised in Puerto Rico before moving to New York City to pursue a master’s degree in Dance Education from N.Y.U. She has gone on to establish her own company, Danza Orgánica, which facilitates workshops and performances centered on an anti-racist and decolonized framework. She uses her choreographic platform to amplify underrepresented voices and experiences, and to envision an equitable society. Parrilla is the recipient of an Outstanding Community Arts Collaborative award in dance from Arts|Learning (2019), a city of Boston Artist-in-Residence focused on Environmental Justice from Indigenous Perspectives (2018), a Luminary Artist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the founder and producer of the Boston-based annual festival “We Create!”. She is currently collaborating with Native American communities in Massachusetts with a focus on best practices towards antiracist decolonization, and with Puerto Rico-based artists on a residency-based cultural exchange exploring the colonial relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States. Danza Orgánica has appeared as part of the Inside/Out series, facilitated a community movement workshop and performance in Pittsfield, MA as part of 10×10 Upstreet Arts Festival, and participated in a Creative Development Residency at Jacob’s Pillow.

Claudia Elena Varela (she/her/hers) was born and raised in Reynosa, Mexico. She holds a Dance B.A. and a Bioengineering B.S. from the University of California San Diego. Her choreographic thesis work focused on deconstructing and reembodying aspects of her identity to bring awareness to contemporary societal issues in Mexico including the drug violence affecting her hometown (Ayotzinapa), and immigration. Claudia joined Danza Orgánica in 2017 to continue using dance to process embodied and witnessed social issues and advocate for social justice. As a company member, she has performed and been involved in the creative process leading to Danza Orgánica’s repertoire pieces Melaza I and Melaza II: Weaving Stories, Vessel, and Love. Claudia is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Medical Engineering in the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology. She is an aspiring professor and a fierce STEAM diversity advocate.