I moved to Detroit, Michigan in September of this year from a 600 person hamlet called Bovina Center in the North Western Catskills of New York State. I was immersed in an amazing community of supportive women entrepreneurs and small business owners/artists in Bovina that had become integral to running this business. When we (my boyfriend and I) decided that we were going to move away from that community I knew that I had to find, join, or start creating a similar community in Detroit.
In September, when we moved, my son was 6 months old and I didn’t have the time or ability to meet people in person so I utilized to Instagram to find people, specifically women creating in community. Almost instantly I found a woman's (almost) daily posts of videos of herself dancing. I watched as many of the videos as I could in the few minutes I had before my son was done nursing (as this is the time I go on instagram).
The next day, however, I got up and quickly went straight to her page to see if she'd posted a new video. I found myself completely enamored by the energy and emotion of her movements.
Every day I would look to see what she'd posted and it would literally get me moving into or through my day. The videos seemed to me to be self expressions more than performances and the freedom of expression she emotted was raw and intimate. The videos reminded me of what it felt like to dance in my undies at home alone (one of the reasons I started making it for myself).
My infatuation continued for a few weeks (maybe even a month or so) before I got the nerve to ask her if she would collaborate or dance for a video in my lingerie filmed by my boyfriend Mark Foster.
I learned that @simp_can was in fact a woman named Maria and that she defines herself as a creativist; a person who constructs spaces for positive change. Maria uses verse, spoken word, dance and theater to create ensemble based activism works. The signature on Maria’s email moved me especially as it read:
"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare" -Audre Lorde
Let's us care for ourselves so deeply we incite a global rebellion that over throws all other powers but love.
After confirming a time to film a video of her dancing in my lingerie I went to work figuring out what I would make for her to wear for the video. When I work with people for photo shoots my intention is to style them or design/make garments for them similar to the ones that they already wear and look comfortable in. For Maria, I noticed her wearing white a lot. She also wore bralette/sports bras and tap shorts in many of the videos (which are some of my favorite things to make).
Based on my observations of her own style and dance wardrobe choices I made her some mesh and lace versions of garments I had seen her in to dance in for our video. My idea was that they would be a part of her body in a way that wouldn't detract from her performance but just seem a part of her.
Upon meeting Maria I also learned so much more about her than just her dance moves. Trained at Wayne State University Maria has been acting for 13 years, dancing for 12, directing for 8 and MCing for 3. She is a classically trained ballroom and flamenco dancer with 5 years of hiphop and freestyle experience. She and her former hip hop crew Syncz performed at the Detroit Pride Festival's 2nd stage twice and have featured as backup dancers for various artist in and around Detroit as well as performing at the international Detroit Dance City Festival.
Maria's theater company, Omphalos Symptom, creates improvised comedic scenarios or takes classical works and reworks them to address topical issues. She was a performer, writer and choreographer for the sold out show Speak Up, Speak Out with The Detroit Actors Theater Company. She and the show will be returning to Detroit for its remount this spring. She is a founding member of the Young Fenix Artist Collective and the Demere Collective. With the Demere Collective she wrote for and choreographed its premiere and 2nd show of it's new series, Poetry in Motion. Most recently she finished her 2nd run of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf at the University of Michigan which she directed, choreographed and performed in.
A somewhat native Virginian, Maria is returning to her roots south of the Mason Dixon to Assitant Direct the Traveling Players Ensemble's winter show The Merchant of Venice.
Shop Maria’s outfit photographed on Morgan Hutson throughout this post by Dominika Stypula.