Today we’d like to introduce you to Toni Pasion.
Toni, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up dancing Hawaiian hula at a young age. The nature of hula is holistic– to know a dance you also know the lyrics of the song, you’re a storyteller, you know how to hold and respect space and other people, you create your adornments, and you use your voice in your fullest potential.
With hula as a guide, I have known the arts have the potential to be incredibly transformative and multi-sensorial.
I then earned my Masters in Dance at the University of Hawai’i. My focus here was on indigenous communities and contemporary dance.
During this time, the 2016 election and its effects shifted my immediate communities to either speak up or be silent. I then deepened my art as healing work and began intentionally creating art for social change.
In mid 2017, I felt an urge to collectivize with other creative womxn to produce a performance for creative self-care. The event was well-received and spurred conversation in creative, restorative programs for kids and adults to empower their cultures as a support system, be their own storytellers, and always integrate malama ‘aina (love of land).
I then moved back to LA, and immediately reached out to my friends who were involved in culturally-rooted work. I produced our first LA performance at Pieter Space in Silverlake shortly after I moved back home.
It’s now one and a half years later, and A Stage of Our Own has self-produced four performance gatherings, a good amount of workshop and community outreach events, and is consistently gathering people for creative, ceremonial work.
We are currently producing “Where We Stand”—a social practice project of five monthly workshops and a culminating performance on March 22, 2019 in Torrance. Our goal is to indigenize and provide spaces for creative self-care. Our culminating performance will have works reflecting upon community, land, and allyship, and an array of local artisan vendors.
Has it been a smooth road?
No, but I like it. The un-smooth road to me is Life’s way of aligning us into our fullest potential.
One challenge pertains to all the things involved with self-production: wearing many hats. Switching gears to get into production and artist modes are challenging, but they show me what I’m capable of doing.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
A Stage of Our Own is a Philippine and Pacific Island contemporary art collective centering womxn and non-binary stories. We are known for creating gathering spaces for art, culture, and self-care.
ASOO is not solely about one group of people, but how we can be allies to one another and find our common ground so that we respect all peoples and places as we do ourselves. This is why LA is a significant place for this work—because there are many people from many places with stories to tell.
I’m proud that those in our collective are cultural workers who have strong moral compasses. This is important in creating sustainable work we want to see for future generations.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Yes. There is space to express our cultures and arts in various ways other than entertainment, and I’d like to see more of this in LA.
What the city can do to improve is to figure more ways to invest in arts development for social and restorative justice, including brainstorming on transportation efficiency so that people may gather more frequently and accessibly.
If someone were interested in doing this work here, I would encourage them to do it. I’m seeing more of this sort of work come up and create community with one another.
- Website: www.astageofourown.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/astageofourown
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/astageofourown
Jonathan Godoy, Paru Paru