We had the good fortune of connecting with MUDA Maritza Navarro & Danielle Yasuda and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi MUDA, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
This is something we revisit often. For us, we would be unhappy in our lives unless we were doing something creatively fulfilling. We just don’t know how else to be.
So for others, we’d say that when the necessity to create in order to survive stops, that would be the indicator to move on. If you wake up every day and still want to do “the thing” you should do it. It should be that simple.
Something would always feel like it’s missing if we gave up.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
MUDA is a mixed media movement company with an emphasis on merging dance, storytelling and documentary filmmaking. We are of two, first-generation American, women of color who were classically trained in ballet and have worked as professional dancers in Los Angeles for more than a decade. As MUDA, we create multimedia dance work that presents diverse and inclusive stories highlighting mental health, identity, and family. We make moves for film, live performances, and still images.
We work with dancers and first-time movers. We believe that dance tells a story and we move bodies to narrate the experience of living. Right now we’re most excited about finding new ways to create and connect with audiences in this trying time. We’re currently filming a series of 12 dance films about Danielle’s journey with hair loss for “Year 31,” that we’re trying to find a home for. We recently tested a safe, outdoor performance to protest the current administration and encourage voting, and we’re hopeful about finding a new way to experience “Hyper-Ventilate,” an immersive dance performance that personifies the feelings of anxiety, panic, and depression. We are lucky that there are two of us to encourage one another, especially in times when it’s difficult to share, or open up, or keep going. We’ve learned to trust that what we offer holds value and when one of us falters, the other is there to remind and ensure that the idea is worthwhile. Our dancers and collaborators are also mirrors to us and the process of creating with them teaches us to have faith in our movement. It hasn’t always been easy to keep making the things that feel the most important to us, but we keep prioritizing our hearts.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
One of the best things about LA is the evolving geography in short distances – you can be near the water, then surrounded by trees and then sipping a cocktail by sunset. We’d start the day on a hike at Eaton Canyon to sit by the waterfalls and meditate. A drive downtown to Perch gives you a view of the city for lunch and a drink. Finally, a picnic dinner in Malibu by the water for sunset, my favorite beach is Zuma. Right now, everything is closed, but if you’re here for the week in normal circumstances, must-sees are The Getty (one of my favorite places to be in LA because of the art plus natural views) The Broad, and Norton Simon Museum. You could still get away with the outdoor LACMA “Urban Lights” exhibit and picnic or a walk at Echo Park Lake or Huntington Library.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There’s so many people who have believed in us and helped us along the way. Dance studios are our literal second homes – being away from them for even a little while during the pandemic, made us really appreciate that reunion as we’ve gotten to slowly make our way back. Studio A Dance in Silver Lake has been home to our shows and numerous rehearsals, dance parties and crying sessions. Unbound Dance Studio (who gave us our Shout Out) have been so generous with time and space. We’d be lost without these safe spaces to create. Directors with brilliant minds like Megyn Cawley, Talia Shae Levin, Marjorie Lewit and Kailee McGee, have trusted us to create movement for their films and live theater, which provide a playground for us to make movement in. Creatives like Juan Toledo and Foreste Jean have helped bring our visions to life and the many filmmakers and dancers who collaborate with us, trust us and expand on our crazy ideas and wild dreams to make them a reality.
CK Nelson, Gregory Kasunich, Eve M Cohen, Letxia Cordova, Basil Mironer, Che Thornhill, Adam Leene