We had the good fortune of connecting with Tula B. Strong and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Tula B., have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
Good things are hard. Purposeful things are hard. So, at least for me, the presence of challenges – whether small or big, intense ones — are not a sign to give up on something.

Instead, the signs I pay attention to are (1) the loss of peace (aka feeling unsettled) combined with (2) the loss of passion or love for what I am doing. For me, these two things combined are signs that I might need to stop my pursuit of something. Or, at the very least, it’s a sign that something is not right and I need to take a step back to re-evaluate.

Faith & spirituality are also a huge part of how I navigate life. So if I’m feeling unsettled about something & like I’ve lost passion, then I’ll first pray about it. Then I’ll look out for a divine sign (or a “God wink” I like to call it) on if it’s the right time to “give up.”

But, I think it’s also important to say that in this scenario, I don’t really see it as “giving up.” More so, as a letting go of something that is no longer serving my life & what I’m called to do.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a performance artist focused on weaving dance, storytelling through music, and Christian spirituality. I create work that speaks to the experience of folks of color in the US and beyond, and the interweaving conversations of love, healing, and radical encounters with the Spirit of God.

I’ve recently finished creating & producing a big project called, TESTIMONY. TESTIMONY is a dance & music experience focused on a community of Black women and their journeys through healing, trauma, and faith. Premiering throughout Women’s History Month 2022, TESTIMONY featured two dance films & 1 EP that I created and produced alongside almost 15 core collaborators. Some of these collaborators include artists like Neima Patterson (co-choreographer & co-director of the dance film, I tried so hard for you), Marcus Norris (composer), musical duo Aminata Diop & Asriel Hayes AKA JORDAN (composers), Anita Rodriguez (songwriter), Keala Watson-Wheaton (songwriter), and many more. We are honored to have two of the TESTIMONY dance films now streaming on BlavityTV. Plus, you can also watch all of TESTIMONY & learn more about the show by visiting www.testimonytheshow.com

Now that my show TESTIMONY is complete and out in the world, I am inspired to focus even more of my attention on another part of my artistic mission: storytelling through music. So far in my journey as an artist, I’ve been really focused on my practice as a choreographer. Since 2015, I’ve been in Los Angeles & the Greater L.A. areas training, making dances, and eventually getting my MFA in Dance from UCLA. I feel like it’s time to evolve and grow my work as an interdisciplinary artist. So in this vein, I have been training for almost 2 years now as a banjoist. I very much look forward to strengthening my skills as a musician to create future performance work that is truly integrating the disciplines of dance & music with my interest in conversations of faith & healing. While my next performance project may take a few years to complete, I’m happy to share that you can follow my journey in preparing for & developing it via my TikTok (@tula.b.strong) & YouTube Channel (Tula B. Strong Choreography).

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If I had a friend visiting LA for the weekend, here’s the itinerary I would plan for us:

Friday —
* Assuming it’s summertime, we’d start the evening with Jazz at LACMA
* We’d do dinner at Tatsu Ramen off of Melrose
* Then head to La Granada in Alhambra for a night of dancing Bachata

Saturday —
* We’d start with breakfast at Jacks N Joe off of Figueroa
* Then we’d head to Long Beach for Paddle Boarding in Alamitos Bay
* For late lunch, we’d grab falafel at The HipPea in Long Beach
* Afterwards, we’d head to the LMU Bluff to overlook the city & watch the sunset
* Then we’d finish with dinner at Cafe Brasil off Washington Blvd in Mar Vista.

Sunday —
* Assuming COVID rates are down, we’d head to church at One Church off Melrose
* Afterwards we’d grab lunch at the Smorgasburg in DTLA
* Finally we’d head to CAAM (California African American Museum) to check out the exhibits there {Plus, if the Underground Museum happened to be open during this weekend trip, we’d definitely stop by there too!}

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would love to shout out two people, Marcus Brown Jr. & Salilo Ma’o. These two are creatives based in the Greater L.A. region. Marcus is a photographer & runs a photography studio in the Inland Empire. Salilo is a marketing strategist, creative, & small business owner. (Plus they both are my family!) These two have supported my career as an artist so much in the past few years. They have lent countless amounts of their time, creative talents, and wisdom to my past show, TESTIMONY. I am incredibly grateful to them both, and definitely want to give Salilo & Marcus a huge Shout Out here!

Website: https://www.tulabstrong.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tula.b.strong/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tulabstrong/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tula.b.strong/

Youtube: bit.ly/tulabstrongonyoutube

Other: https://www.tiktok.com/@tula.b.strong

Image Credits
Marcus Brown Jr. Khwaja Hadi Aisha Oxley

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