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Meet Trailblazer Andrea Ordaz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrea Ordaz.

Andrea, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am a Los-Angeles based choreographer. I study ballet and modern dance practices and have found a passion for embodiment and choreography. I research process and collaboration to find balance and present my findings in dance performance.

I began my professional dance training at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, a pivotal point for my path to becoming a well-rounded dance artist. There, I studied Horton Dance Technique with Don Martin, was introduced to Jiri Kylian repertoire from Fiona Eddy, and choreographic composition from Gina Buntz and Nancy Evans Doede among others. After graduating as a scholarship recipient, I continued to study dance at the University of California, Irvine and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performance & Choreography. I created and presented work in Los Angeles while teaching dance through non-profit organizations until I decided to deepen my knowledge about the female contemporary modern dancing body in graduate school. During graduate school at UC Irvine, I investigated modern dance, improvisation, and heritage in both my familial and dance lineages with mentors and professors Loretta Livingston and Lisa Naugle. I examined my Mexican-American upbringing and found ways in which I focus on layering my identity into scholarship and choreography. I obtained a Master of Fine Arts in Dance degree after receiving awards and scholarships for excellence in graduate research. Today, I am a freelance choreographer directing A.Ordaz Dance — a project-based dance collaborative that investigates choreographic ways to depict the external and internal landscapes of culture and identity in the contemporary. The mission is to connect people, educate, and enrich the arts by bridging the intimate with the universal through dance performance.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
My personal journey compliments my choreographic journey. I utilize my experiences as knowledge and find that the body with its unique stories is the most informative and powerful. As a female choreographer, I taught myself to develop a way to share narratives that have character that speak to time, space, and place. I constantly find myself creating environments that examine individualism and community coming together. My path is layered and I would describe myself as a curious creative that enjoys working through paradoxical ideas. When I sense struggle, I force myself to listen more closely to the situation. For example, in my MFA Thesis ‘Mexican-American Female Identity in Choreographic Process,’ I focused on understanding a perceived gap that I felt between western concert dance practices and my ethnic identity. Personal feelings with disconnection and representation were channeled into opportunities for creation and sharing. I made something that helped me close a perceived gap that I was experiencing along my path. I always come back to trying to develop voice and following my instinct when I am challenged with interruptions that effect the notion of simply being you are and want to be in society. My personal path has lead me to understand that creation means work. The things that I have done that have taken the most effort in understanding has taught me the most rewarding life lessons.

What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
I am a dance maker meaning my specialization is Choreography. An important part of my service to the community is to expand language by commenting on world consciousness through physical, subtle, and nuanced embodied patterns of thought and exploration. I give my heart to process and collaboration and make dances that are often poetic and non-linear. I examine movement as language and turn to the body in various ways. I enjoy playing with perspective and depth and map fluid pathways for more profound mind and body connection.

In my work, I collaborate with bodies while being particular with how sound, feeling, and light environmentally inspire moments. I aim to utilize the perspective of people to shape my dances with respect to personal narrative to help convey a reflection of our collective modern world.
My recent choreographies “Agave Americana” “Tierra Intocable” and “Fotos Antiguas” are dances that feel like a series that reflects and pays homage to my ethnic background. I really love these dances because they feel like home and include groups of people that have become family. I had the privilege of collaborating with various performers and designers in the premieres and restagings of these dance works and that is why I love doing what I do. In each of these dances, there is a lens that offers a look into multicultural identity, yet, done so in a way that is unique to my female Mexican-American body and history.

Which women have inspired you in your life?
I gravitate towards archiving moments, thoughts, and feelings about being female through embodying different connections and by sharing a more inclusive depiction of the the human experience with dance. I blend inspirations that stretch beyond mother earth sometimes and often challenge ideas of strength by thinking about the many ways in which I can express myself. As of late, I have been inspired by the people that have helped shape me into the woman and artist I am today. There is a certain poised nature about the women that I am connected to and have been surrounded by throughout my life. I admire their grace and competence in sharing themselves enough to help further the voices of others. Finding a closeness to my ancestors and building female societies around those ideas holds substance for me in ways that feel like reclaiming and indulging in curiosity and beauty. Also, ideas of matriarchy and legacy is rich in helping me find a sense of grounded-ness in which I can most relate as modern dancer and choreographer.

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Image Credit:
Skye Schmidt, Natalie Alvarado, Rafael Hernandez, Jim Rodney

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