We had the good fortune of connecting with Tashara Gavin-Moorehead and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tashara, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Typically I think of risk as a 50/50 percent chance. Either it will happen or it won’t. I love thinking about risk as a “what is the worst that could happen?” Risk is a part of life and how we inevitably make change in our lives. I believe you must be willing to to take chances and make mistakes in order to understand all the options available to you. Going for things that seem unreachable, helps me to stretch myself to the edges of my perceived limitations. Taking huge risks has shaped my career and life were I have had the wildest adventures and experiences. I have lived in five major cities in America, and danced with some of the most prominent Black dance companies all because I took risks, and took leaps of faith. Risks make my life full of colorful, joyful experiences that I will cherish forever.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am currently finishing my last semester in graduate school were I am earning my MFA in choreography. My thesis project uses Kwanzaa’s Nguzo Saba( the seven principles) as a scaffolding method to construct choreography. Kwanzaa is a Pan African Holiday that centers its celebration around the first fruits harvest and is a holiday that values the community and family. I have been practicing the principles of Kwanzaa for 28 years and they have helped me to decolonize my mind and embrace my African heritage and customs, In this next chapter of my life I seek to embody the principles through my choreography and challenge myself to further my understanding of the principles through my art making, Kwanzaa creates a path/ method to liberation and freedom for people of African decent and I want to fully commit to a practice of freedom and provides me a road to liberation. I am a improvisational artist who was looking to refine my method of creating scores that share my stories in detailed and intimate manner. This project will allow me to documents my process on a personal and artistic level as take the path to liberation and freedom on a social, cultural, and personal level that free me from Eurocentric values and beliefs. It has been an exciting journey to get to a place where I can now focus on my own artistic voice. Throughout my professional career I have devoted the majority of my time trying to fit into another artistic directors vision and aesthetic, and although I gained knowledge and experience from being in those companies I did not have the time to develop my own voice. I am truly grateful to be in a place were I can still perform other choreographers works but also be deeply invested in my own practice. I have learned that bringing my personal story and experiences into the studio makes is important not only as a dancer but as a choreographer. 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.
I must brag because I am an excellent tour guide! I pride myself on the many places in different activities that I take people when they come and visit the Greater Los Angeles area. I take people places based on areas for example, if we are in South Central LA I take people to LA’s historic Black community Leimert park to visit Art and Practice an art gallery, to dine at Hot n Cool Cafe, and enjoy the live jazz music at Tha Alley. Another day would be downtown LA were we would visit the Staple center, eat at the many restaurants, and at night check out the night scene at places like the Library. Further north we would visit the Hollywood stars as well as Beverly Hills, of course with pending traffic we could either choose the Getty Museum or Griffth Park, Lastly, going to the beach is a must. My favorite beach to take tourist is Santa Monica because the view is stunning, the architecture is clean and there is plenty of shopping and eating options.
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 dedicate this shoutout to all the amazing African American/ Black women in my life who have been loving, caring, nurturing, and have encouraged me to keep going; this includes my mom Toska, my sister Taisha, my aunt Tanya, Stacey, and Renae, and my grandmothers Mary Ann and Dorothy. I would also like to thank my dance mentors Ms. Valerie Winborne, Dianne McIntyre, Pat Taylor, Keisha Clark- Booth, & Marjani Forte’ for supporting me through my thesis process and providing me with inspiration and guidance. Thank you to all my friends east coast and west coast, which include Adriene Barber-Hodge who listens to me ramble daily & Tiana Holmes and Amanda Garrison, and special shout out to my CSULB co hort Issa Hourani, and Sarah Stanley as well as Erin and Queala who had to bare with me as I struggled with power point presentations. I also dedicate this shoutout to the African American/Black men in my life who have provided love and support; to my late father Brent, my Pops Gerald, my uncle Arthur and Daryl, and my cousins Gavin & Jordan, and my friend Ahmad for helping me sculpt my thesis project, I have been truly gifted with an amazing village. As well as my mentors Bernard Brown. To anyone I haven’t listed I say thank you to always supporting me and blessings me with your friendship and your presence. I must also like to acknowledge Dr. Maulana Karenga, the creator of Kwanzaa for blessing and supporting my thesis project. I do not take a single person for granted in my life and seek to always show my love and admiration for you.
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Lousi Kenai Carr Lantz Simpson