Meet Mark Travis Rivera

We are thrilled to announce that we have a featured choreographer for the 2017 NACHMO season. We sat down for a bit of Q&A with Mark Travis Rivera:

Tell us a bit about your company and your background.

marked dance project is a contemporary dance company that includes disabled and non-disabled dancers. Founded in March of 2009, MDP aims to provide professional opportunities for disabled dancers and non-disabled dancers alike, while challenging societal expectations of what it means to be a dancer. 

I was born prematurely at 5 and a half months, weighing one pound. I have cerebral palsy, which affects me from the waist down. So my body moves differently than someone who is non-disabled. I rely on words to illustrate my movement. As a gay Latino who is gender non-conforming I use my lived experiences as inspiration for my work.    

What is your choreographic process like?

It usually starts with a theme of sorts and then the music comes (or doesn't) to me. Since I am a writer, storytelling is super important to me and a huge part of my choreographic process. There's a clear beginning, middle, and end. I also love using poetry in my work. Lately I've been inspired by my friend Amy Leon's music--a great mix of poetry and soul music.  

What are your plans for your NACHMO piece?

I suffer from bipolar disorder and depression so this piece is going to explore breath and the internal collision that occurs within one's mind when coping with a mental illness. So it will be a personal piece for sure.       

What are your interests and pursuits outside of dance, and how do they inform your choreography?

Outside of dance, I'm a writer, activist, and speaker. I also work in higher education as a communications professional. Every aspect of my identity influences my work as a choreographer. I wholeheartedly believe that in order to create dances, you have to live life and pull from all those emotions that runs through you. At my core, I am a storyteller and I aspire to tell stories that move audiences to feel something, anything.