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Meet Marsha Parrilla of Danza Orgánica in Jamaica Plain

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marsha Parrilla.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m a Taíno and Afro Caribbean woman and dance theater artist. In 2007, inspired by a lifetime of dealing with discriminatory issues, and my love and passion for movement- I founded the dance theater company Danza Orgánica (DO) with a focus on social justice oriented performance and practice.

My work explores not just the imprint of the world on our bodies, but also our agency – both individual and collective – to rewrite our stories through creative movement that de-colonizes our bodies and reinvents our way of experiencing the world. Although originated in Brooklyn, NYC- it is in permanent residency in Boston, MA.

However, we keep our strong ties to the NYC community, and we perform all throughout New England and beyond.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
A smooth road? What is that? My journey has not been easily gained, nor easily traveled. I am a Brown Puerto Rican woman, and my journey has been uphill. When the system is not built for people like you, it will always be a struggle.

The key is resiliency, persistence, and being true to your craft, your vision, and your mission. Keep sight of your goal, and enjoy the journey with all its twists and turns.

Surround yourself with people who trust and believe in you. There are always lessons along the way, and figuring out how to embrace them to continue moving forward is key.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Danza Orgánica – what should we know?
In Boston, I am mostly known for my social justice oriented work, and the award-winning festival I produce: We Create! Celebrating Women in the Arts. I also have a solo artist career, which is more performance art oriented.

I would classify my work in 4 main categories:

1. Danza Orgánica: Dance theater company that focuses on social justice oriented performance and practice. Danza Orgánica excavates complex issues through intensive research and collaboration and embodies these findings to create challenging and honest dance theater. My dance creations are a reflection of my eclectic training. I combine my training in Modern and Contemporary dance forms, Theater, Improvisation, Classical Ballet, and my deep-rooted influences of Afro Caribbean movement. However, what sets Danza Orgánica apart is that the movement is not easily classified. My movement is organic, an embodiment of the experiences and emotions we seek to convey.

2. We Create! Celebrating Women in the Arts: I have created spaces for other artists to develop work and build community through the arts. I am particularly interested in developing containers for self-identified women, and gnc artists as creator. Now in its 6th year, We Create is proud to feature artists from, Boston, New England, and NYC.

3. Dance for Social Justice (DSJ): This workshop grew out of my desire to use dance as a tool for social change. While I was teaching dance in urban settings, I organically provided my students with dance composition tools with which they explored themselves and their communities. I quickly realized that combining literacy and dance composition was a great way to engage people of all ages in a holistic process of creation of dance for social justice.

4. Solo Work: My relationship with dance is filled with risk-taking, love, struggle, curiosity and surprise. I am intrigued by the subjectivity of movement; the way we embody our experiences, and how they become alive for others through our self-expression. I’m equally intrigued by the collectivity of movement, and the power that shared energy creates. My solo work explores not just the imprint of the world on our bodies, but also our agency – both individual and collective – to rewrite our stories through creative movement that de-colonizes our bodies and reinvents our way of experiencing the world.

What I am most proud of as a company, is our performance at the amazing outside stage at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Inside/Out festival. It was magical.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Resilience, persistence, honesty, and being true to yourself. In my opinion, good leaders have a clear vision and create work that stems from a drive that comes from within.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Ernesto Galán, Mark Teuten, Kolin Mendez for Kolin Mendez Photography

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