It is my pleasure to introduce to the AXIS community Mark Travis Rivera who is a brilliant activist, choreographer, feminist, writer and speaker. He joined the AXIS community in May of 2013 as an apprentice. I had the pleasure of working with him and he brings such a great light to everything he does.
AXIS Dance Company: When & why did you get involved with AXIS?
Mark Travis Rivera: I became an apprentice with AXIS in May of 2013, Judy recommended that I apply for the Emerson Apprenticeship. I wanted an opportunity to work with AXIS because I wanted to learn more about integrated dance from the nation's leading integrated dance company. Having been an admirer of the company, I was eager to learn from Judy and the company dancers so that I could return to New Jersey and pass on my knowledge to my own dance company, marked dance project.
AXIS: What drew you to the company?
Mark: AXIS has been around for over two decades, expanding the notions of what it means to be a dancer both nationally and internationally. I knew that I could learn a lot for the dance pioneers of integrated dance, so I wanted to learn all that I could.
AXIS: What is your favorite AXIS memory?
Mark: One of my favorite AXIS memories was when I participated in the first school assembly and I got to dance alongside the company dancers and I got to meet Tanja, the other apprentice. I also really enjoyed accompanying Judy to San Jose to teach the series of masterclasses to a group of ballroom dancers who use wheelchairs.
AXIS: What would be your elevator pitch to someone who has never heard of AXIS?
Mark: AXIS is a devoted dance company that aims to educate and create spaces that allow people of all abilities to experience the art of dance--they are the community's dancers and represent the endless possibilities of the art of dance.
AXIS: What inspires you to be a fierce dancer & activist?
Mark: I believe that we are all born with a purpose. I use to be ashamed of my disability but as I grew up, I realized having cerebral palsy was a part of my larger purpose. I don't know if I would have pursued dance had it not been for my disability. My life mantra is: aspire to inspire so that's what keeps me feeling encouraged to do the work I do as an activist and artist.
AXIS: What is one piece of advice you would give to a disabled person wanting to try the arts?
Mark: My biggest advice to anyone who wants to pursue the arts, especially for people with disabilities, is to never give up on your dreams. A lot of people will try to discourage you but if you are passionate and you work hard, you can achieve your dreams. I believe nothing is impossible because the word "impossible" has the words "I'm" and "possible". We all have the possibility to live out our dreams, we just have a different path to take in order to live out our purpose.
To learn more about Travis and his amazing work go to http://marktravisrivera.com/