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Finding Sentience

Semaphore Repertory Dance Company with dancers Aadi Akyianu, Mem Awad, Adrian Balvuena, Roo Case, Han Han, Moe Kojima. Natalie Tatar

Sound/music; Wo'i (Coyote) Trio for Bass, Cello and Guitar

Original composition produced, recorded and played by: Sam Aros-Mitchell

Thank you to all the dancers for developing this score together. Special thanks to Aadi Akyianu for helping to create the title of this piece, "Finding Sentience".

For this dance work I isolated three core somatic experiences regarding vision: central vision, peripheral vision, and fringe vision. I also experimented with space by dividing the dancers into quadrants so that they could never see all of the other dancers.The dancers embarked on an exploration of three fundamental somatic experiences that allowed for visual modalities to offer unique insights into the ways they perceived, interacted with each other and  with their surroundings.

In the realm of central vision, the dancers directed their focus straight ahead, immersing themselves in a concentrated and detailed examination of the space before them. They honed in on specific points and movements, allowing their attention to be drawn to the nuances and intricacies of their environment.

Peripheral vision, on the other hand, brought a broader, encompassing perspective. The dancers expanded their awareness beyond their central focus, taking in the entire performance space as well the other dancers moving within it. They were able to respond and interact with their surroundings, in a surprising interplay between individual and collective.

Fringe vision pushed the boundaries of perception to the very edges of the dancers' visual fields. They explored the subtle shifts and movements that occurred at the peripheries of their vision. I encouraged them to listen to the shifting of subtle energies and sensations which existed at the fringes of their conscious awareness.

By experimenting with these different visual modes, the dancers transcended the limitations of ordinary perception. They delved into a heightened state of sensory awareness, where the boundaries between self and space, and individual and collective, became fluid and interconnected.

Additionally, the division of the dancers into quadrants added another layer of complexity to the piece. This spatial arrangement prevented any dancer from having a complete view of the entire group, creating a fragmented and disjointed visual experience. This fragmentation served as a metaphor for the fragmented nature of perception itself, reminding us that our understanding of the world is always partial and incomplete.

Ania Bwia Bwia Toochia

Ania Bwia Bwia Toochia, which means the world, the land, the soil, the dust. It grew out of my many experiences and relationships such as living in Tempe, Arizona, camping in Tucson, talking with other Yaqui folks, working on my monograph, “Performance as Ceremony”, building a cello out a busted guitar that was gifted to me, a genuine desire to integrate my love for playing stringed instruments and dance, and working with Natalie Diaz, being inspired by her poem, “isn’t the air also a body moving?”.

 As a Native artist, my work is not created in a vacuum of extrapolation and extraction. It is a direct response to being accountable to the natural world and to my community.

Dunamis Novem

A collaboration between Sam Aros Mitchell and Dr. Raymond Simmonds, Ph.D., an experimental physicist working with superconducting quantum circuits at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, CO. Sam and Ray have been friends since their undergraduate college days more than 20 years ago, at U.C. Santa Barbara. Sam was pursuing dance and dramatic arts and Ray’s interests straddled the arts, theatre, and the sciences. Sam introduced Ray to modern dance when he choreographed a septet based on Garcia Lorca’s “Poem of the Deep Song” casting Ray as one of the dancers. This experience not only affirmed their friendship, but planted the seeds for this collaboration.

Dee(a)r Spine

Dee(a)r Spine was born out of my desire “to remember the things I never knew.” As a Yaqui who was adopted, I had a strong desire to connect to my roots. Through conversations with my biological family and through the discovery of my grandparents’ marriage certificate issued in Imuris, Sonora, I now know about my grandmother, Maria Luisa Aros Siquerios and her daughter, (my biological mother) Evangelina Gaxiola, who immigrated to California, married, and had my six siblings and me. Evangelina died tragically when I was an infant. This piece marks my journey to reconnect with my family and community, and to find ways to “remember everything.”


Hedda´ing was a collaboration between Siri & Snelle and Sam Aros Mitchell. Hedda´ing was  performed at Without Walls Festival (WoW). Hedda´ing was a cross cultural, dance theatre exploration using Henrik Ibsen’s play Hedda Gabler as a source. Hedda’ing investigated the polarities that exist between the role of home as a sanctuary and as a prison, between memory and reality, and between the existential and the spiritual. Hedda’ing was set in and around the Stuart Collection’s “Fallen Star” by artist Do Ho Suh.

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