US/Mexico | CatherineMarie Davalos: Dancing Across Borders

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

Davalos“Volver” choreographed and performed by CatherineMarie Davalos. Photo by David Gaylord 


CatherineMarie Davalos.What is your ArtThe act of crossing borders, both literally and figuratively, is something that artist CatherineMarie Davalos deeply understands. As an acclaimed dancer, choreographer and director of Davalos Dance Company, she has crafted works that honor her Mexican/multicultural heritage and the experiences of her community while traversing other barriers around identity. She is the Director of Dance at Saint Mary’s College of California, which includes a thriving undergraduate program and two newly launched MFA programs in dance. Davalos is also a recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a collaborator with the Latin Ballet of Virginia. She’s the mother of a 14 year old son whom she calls her “greatest work of art” and is married to David Gaylord, also an artist, whom she considers, “the original Renaissance Man and can do anything.” Here she talks about how her choreography connects to ongoing discussions around immigration, her upbringing, and the powerful feminist icons in her clan.


Volver,” choreographed and performed by CatherineMarie Davalos.

Q: In your works Volver” and “A Wintry Mix,” you deal with the issue of Mexican immigrants longing to return home who no longer can, with a dancer literally throwing her/himself upon a projected image of the border. What inspired you to depict this side of migration stories? Are people surprised?

A: Yes, it is an image of the border that my artist husband, David Gaylord, made for me. The inspiration is based on real life experiences of Latinos in my family and community. Since I was born in this country and do not speak Spanish, I had to prove my Mexican-ness to my community and sometimes even my family. I do not have a homeland. I have never felt like I belong here and have always been treated as the woman with brown skin. In Mexico I look like I belong, but I cannot speak [Spanish]. The immigrant family members in my family and community came to the U.S. for many reasons, but all were hoping for a better life here. They did not expect to encounter racism. They were not the target of so much hatred until they came to California. The Mexican immigrant is also invisible when it comes to services. We/they long for home and a place to belong, but once you leave Mexico, it does not look kindly at you coming back.

The song for the work “Volver” says he would do anything to be in her embrace again. Immigrants come here looking for a better life, but they do not realize how hard it is until they get here. As my Colombian friends say, “it was not all roses” like they thought it would be. Latinos are not surprised by this depiction of wanting to return to the homeland and Chicanos see this as the metaphor for finding or returning to Aztln, the ancestral home of the Aztecs. The Chicano movement took up the concept when talking about that place to return home to, where the body feels at home.

Q: What are some of the biggest myths around immigration that your choreography and dancing has taken on?

A: I think what I’ve described [above] is the biggest issue, the one I have dealt with on many levels. I tend to look at something for a while and from various angles. I have a full evening work called “From Women’s Mouths,” which explores me coming to terms with my Mexican self. Then I made another full evening called “Borders, Spaces, and Brown-eyed Girls,” which takes on how others perceive me and those like me. Then parts of “Volver” and “Wintry Mix” showed up as single dances.

Q: You were born in the U.S., yet so much of your artistry looks at the stories from both sides of the border. What motivates this particular perspective? Does family play a part?

A: Oh yeah, I am big on family. I come from a big Mexican family and had many uncles, a few aunts, lots of cousins. . . my grandmother lived with us. . . big family. We all got together on Christmas Eve. We are all educated. My dad has a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, and one of my sisters has one from Yale. I have an MFA. My mom was a librarian and an English teacher. I should also mention that my mom is Italian. My parents have been together since they were 13 years old. They are now 75. This is why I have so much history. Their families have been together for a long time. There was also some stuff with this because some of the family are very racist. They accept my dad and us, but they are not comfortable with all Mexicans. Then there are those who remember that the Italian immigrant was also treated very badly, so they can relate. All very weird and complicated.

I think all my [work] comes from me and I am Mexican. We don’t only make dances about being Mexican, but if one were Mexican, one could see the Mexican influence in everything I do.

Q: Your dances are also known for depicting powerful women via stories of sensuality, myth and actualization. What are some of the most prominent female archetypes that are in Mexican/Chicano communities? How are there archetypes represented in your dances?

A: My influences are the women in my family, mainly my mom—radical feminist, outstanding female role model and all around excellent human. My Mexican grandmother came here when she was very young and taught herself how to read and write English and Spanish. She was tough. Kept my dad away from thugs and drugs. My uncle Richard said she would grab someone by the neck and pull them down to her height of 4’10” and say, “If you sell my son drugs, I will kill you.” I like to play with Aztec goddesses as archetypes, but I match them to my family. I would need to grab a book to give you the exact names. Our community has lousy female archetypes. Have you heard of La Llorona? In Mexican childhood stories, we were told La Llorona will come and get you. The female icons tend to run in that negative scary direction. The biggest one with a positive image is the Virgin Mary. She is bigger as an icon of pop culture on this side of the border, particularly in California and Chicago. We also champion Frida Kahlo and other artists like her, including Yolanda López, and the activist leader Dolores Huerta. I definitely am more of a seeker of contemporary cultural icons. My sister KarenMary Davalos could tell you more about this stuff. She is an anthropologist and writes about Chicano/a artists. She’s pretty awesome, too.

Anyway, back to how they are represented. In one dance, I depict the figures of the Aztec gods and goddesses as the germs for movement. In a collaborative work called “Who Is She?” we play with several popular female icons, and I chose the Virgin Mary. We moved through several statue versions of her.

Everyone does a Frida Kahlo piece. HA! I haven’t made a dance about her. I just want to be her.


Who is She?” choreographed by CatherineMarie Davalos.

Q: Your choreography also deals with subject matter that is viewed as traditionally outside of the Mexican/Chicano community. Would you say you have a global vision? Do you have a preferred subject matter?  

A: Hmm. You mean because it does not have an obvious Mexican theme? Like Mexican music? I think all my [work] comes from me and I am Mexican. We don’t only make dances about being Mexican, but if one were Mexican, one could see the Mexican influence in everything I do. I do try to communicate with all of my audience, universal stuff, but once I had an all Latina audience and they were the best one I ever had. Amazing experience. They got every single thing I was trying to say. Never had it again, but once was enough to tell me that I make Mexican dances all the time. Davalos Dance Company always has something to say about being the “other.” It might feel like more of a regional perspective to some because I was born in the U.S., but I like to say global. I prefer to make dances about Chicano experiences. Sometimes, I bend toward the feminist in this voice. I thought Dido got a bad name from Virgil’s Aeneid, so I made a dance that reflected her true character. I like to re-write the feminine.


Clarence HaynesClarence A. Haynes is a  writer and editor (books and web content) who regularly covers culture and gender. He has worked with a number of print and online publications, including Newsday, City Limits and The Grio. More of his work can be found at






OF NOTE Magazine is free to readers, free of advertising, and free of subscriptions—all made possible by generous supporters like you. Your tax tax-deductible gift will help us continue to feature innovative and emerging global artists using the arts as tools for social change. OF NOTE Magazine is a fiscally sponsored organization of the New York Foundation for the Arts, a 501 (c) (3), tax-exempt organization. All donations are 100% tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. 

0 Flares Facebook 0 Twitter 0 0 Flares ×


2,447 Responses to “US/Mexico | CatherineMarie Davalos: Dancing Across Borders”
  1. Freelife says:

    I’ve come to collect a parcel ibuprofen 800 mg 3 times daily “Nothing Lasts Forever” plays with music of the East, while “Body Shop” whips up some taut beats from the Asian subcontinent.

  2. Grady says:

    It’s a bad line astelin homepage Much of the 40 million of taxpayers’ money spent on planning for the now abandoned children’s hospital at the Mater site in Dublin may have been wasted, the latest financial statements of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board have indicated.

  3. Tony says:

    Could you please repeat that? buy propranolol 40 mg The 4.2 percent growth reflects additional spending in 2014and 2015, as well as higher expected outlays in 2016

  4. Kayla says:

    Where did you go to university? 1500 mg depakote too much With runners at second and third, Omar Infante lined out to Ian Kinsler, who threw to second in an attempt to complete a double play

  5. Edison says:

    Canada>Canada atenolol 50 mg dose Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Washington in this June 13, 2012 file photo.

  6. Junior says:

    This is the job description cozaar comp forte 100 mg 25 mg Gunn and three fashionistas dissected the attire of many First Ladies, doing so in the presence of a very attentive crowd that included Linda Johnson Robb, daughter of President Lyndon B

  7. Landon says:

    Are you a student? norethindrone acetate tablets used It's a model pioneered in Cincinnati Children's Hospital around 12 months ago and one that has been adopted by a number of units in Scotland – to much praise by the Scottish Health Secretary, Alex Neil.

  8. Jose says:

    I’m not interested in football moduretic dosagens “An important concern is maintaining medical confidentiality, and supporting the patient’s family and identifying any possible contacts

  9. Terrell says:

    this is be cool 8) oxybutynin trade and generic name As soon as we saw that video on Monday morning, we understood exactly how wrong; saw why Janay Palmer was on the ground the way she was when the elevator doors opened that night.

  10. Blaine says:

    I’ve lost my bank card can i buy mefenamic acid over the counter uk The magazine is owned by Jann Wenner, who founded it in 1967primarily to cover music and culture

  11. Haley says:

    I hate shopping duphaston 10 mg side effects People take such an interest in your love life when you have a profile, it puts a lot of stress on a relationship.

  12. Emile says:

    I work here why is my viagra not working And those who preserve their heart health into middle age live much longer and are much healthier while they live,” they said.

  13. Lazaro says:

    What’s the current interest rate for personal loans? where can u get rogaine But as they climbed the steps to the entrance of St Paul's Cathedral a disaster nearly happened when the 82-year-old former prime minister Lord Attlee faltered in front of them.

  14. Willard says:

    Yes, I play the guitar what is trazodone 50 mg This information is not used by us for any other type of audience recording or monitoring.

  15. Clair says:

    I went to anaconda lyrics clean The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what’s in the news

  16. Grover says:

    International directory enquiries tretinoin 0.025 The poll, conducted by ICM, asked more than 2,000 people if Qatar “should be stripped of its right to host the 2022 football World Cup unless the country proves to the world that it has taken action to lock up the funders of terrorism.” Seventy-two per cent of those polled agreed.

  17. Andres says:

    Where do you study? zetia side effects articles Massive 100,000-tonne cancellations of warrants in Detroitand Vlissingen in the Netherlands, where Pacorini Metals,Glencore’s storage business, has the majority of its sheds, haveroiled the market since 2010.

  18. Rayford says:

    How much does the job pay? glucotrol xl wpi 900 “Humana believes that this request for information is in connection with a wider review of Medicare risk adjustment generally that includes a number of Medicare Advantage plans, providers and vendors,” the company said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday.

  19. Sidney says:

    I live here purchase glyburide online — Japanese trucks maker Hino Motors Ltd, which is a unit ofToyota Motors Corp, Indonesian car distributor Indomobil andJapanese trading house Sumitomoto Corp to set up ajoint venture in Indonesia (notified Oct

  20. Benedict says:

    I’ve got a very weak signal norethindrone acetate The family robot features a sort of cone on wheels with a screen to display a friendly face that responds to human interaction

  21. Kendrick says:

    No, I’m not particularly sporty aeroflot reviews yelp The multi-billion-euro project suffered a setback in August,when two satellites were put into the wrong orbit, adding toprevious problems with delays and financing and questions aboutwhether Europe really needs a rival navigation system.

  22. Robin says:

    I can’t get a dialling tone amoxicillin 250mg to buy I know it was overpriced for most people but I think it’s a shame more haven’t experienced it as the freedom it gives you is very different from the GTA concept of open world

  23. Jewel says:

    Cool site goodluck 🙂 apcalis plus 20 Biyombo is a bit undersized, but he has an incredibly long wingspan and has held opponents to 46.7 percent at the rim when he is there

  24. Wilber says:

    Thanks funny site fluoxetine gebruik His supporters – known as “chavistas” – and his detractors both staged street protests.

  25. Gayle says:

    How many are there in a book? vermox online pharmacy ukiah california The 78-year-old singer is dropping a 13-CD box set of unsuccessful commercial albums released from 1963 to 1967, when Mathis left his longtime label, Columbia Records, for Mercury Records and Global Records, his own production company.

  26. Brady says:

    This site is crazy 🙂 buy cheap pyridostigmine bromide Continuing to show utter contempt for Israel as it seeks a durable peace with its neighbors, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are again working to perpetuate an endless war with the Jewish state.

  27. Charles says:

    Sorry, I ran out of credit duphaston to kickstart periods Alabama Republican Senator Richard Shelby, the chair of theSenate Banking Committee, led a discussion that confrontedYellen with a broad set of concerns – from currency manipulationamong U.S

  28. Isaiah says:

    A few months should i take risperdal at night Bettys’ celebratory countdown takes the form of a pinny such as those sported by the waitresses in their deservedly celebrated Yorkshire Tea Rooms, with a milk or white sculpted novelty tucked into each of the 24 pockets

  29. Carol says:

    Yes, I play the guitar how long does it take for stromectol to work on scabies In May, the US charged five Chinese military officers over claims they were behind hacks on US companies

  30. Tyrell says:

    We’d like to offer you the job where can i get propecia in canada “Irish people consume far too much sugar which is bad for their teeth and also consume far too much fat which is bad for their general health

  31. Clinton says:

    How much is a First Class stamp? para que se usa betnovate crema By not showing up, Grimes said, McConnell diluted his influence, which led to his inability to stop the lapse in the federal farm bill last year that provided crop insurance for Kentucky farmers.

  32. Scotty says:

    I’d like to withdraw $100, please concurrent use of xopenex and atrovent Though any wheat ale could work in this cocktail, my preference is for flavourful German classics such as Weihenstephaner, which bring more complexity to the party.

  33. Edwardo says:

    What’s your number? levlen ed birth control reviews They found that those with eczema had a 54% increased risk of being morbidly obese, a 48% increased risk of having high blood pressure and a 42% increased risk of having diabetes.

  34. Bobbie says:

    A packet of envelopes diltiazem 300mg tablets “We are trying to figure out how we can do this,” Watt said,”but do it in a reliable way and in a way that operationallydoesn’t create angst in the entire market.” (Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir)

  35. Milan says:

    I’ve lost my bank card anaesthesia rat propranolol adrenaline doxapram surgery Commenting on the results, chief executive Niall Booker, said the Bank’s transition to a viable and profitable business, which generates capital in the long-term would require significant change at operational and cultural level.

  36. Nolan says:

    I’ll send you a text anafranil yan etkileri nelerdir Microscopy was conducted as part of a user proposal at ORNL’s Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences

  37. I precisely wanted to appreciate you once more. I am not sure the things I might have carried out without these pointers contributed by you about this field. It had been a distressing setting in my circumstances, nevertheless discovering a specialised strategy you managed the issue forced me to weep for contentment. Now i’m grateful for the service and even have high hopes you find out what a powerful job you’re undertaking educating some other people using your web site. More than likely you haven’t met all of us.

  38. jordans says:

    I intended to put you the bit of remark so as to thank you yet again for all the unique thoughts you’ve contributed on this page. This is simply unbelievably open-handed with you to present freely all that a lot of people would have sold as an electronic book to get some dough for themselves, certainly considering the fact that you could have tried it in the event you desired. Those smart ideas as well worked to provide a great way to comprehend most people have similar keenness similar to my personal own to learn way more when it comes to this problem. Certainly there are many more pleasurable situations in the future for individuals that look over your blog.

  39. I want to express some appreciation to this writer for rescuing me from this trouble. Right after scouting throughout the world wide web and getting concepts that were not helpful, I was thinking my life was done. Existing without the presence of approaches to the difficulties you’ve sorted out all through this article is a serious case, as well as the kind that might have negatively damaged my entire career if I hadn’t discovered your blog. Your main competence and kindness in controlling every item was crucial. I am not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t come upon such a solution like this. I can also at this time look forward to my future. Thanks very much for the specialized and amazing guide. I won’t think twice to suggest your web site to any person who should receive recommendations on this situation.

  40. I am just commenting to let you know of the incredible discovery our child encountered going through your blog. She noticed so many details, not to mention how it is like to possess an awesome coaching nature to make many others with no trouble fully understand some specialized things. You really did more than my expectations. Thank you for displaying those precious, trusted, explanatory and also easy tips about your topic to Julie.

  41. I simply had to appreciate you all over again. I’m not certain what I would’ve taken care of in the absence of those techniques discussed by you over this field. It was before a real difficult crisis for me, but encountering a new skilled technique you solved that made me to weep with happiness. Now i’m happier for this help and then expect you know what a powerful job your are doing educating most people thru your websites. Most likely you have never got to know any of us.

  42. nike air max says:

    I and my friends have already been analyzing the nice thoughts located on the website then immediately I had a terrible feeling I had not expressed respect to you for those strategies. My young boys are actually so glad to read them and have pretty much been having fun with them. Thanks for truly being quite accommodating and then for using these kinds of very good areas millions of individuals are really needing to be informed on. My honest regret for not expressing gratitude to you sooner.

  43. I want to convey my admiration for your generosity in support of those people who absolutely need help with the topic. Your very own dedication to passing the solution across was definitely important and has usually enabled people like me to arrive at their endeavors. This interesting advice signifies much a person like me and even more to my peers. Best wishes; from all of us.

  44. Thanks so much for giving everyone a very nice opportunity to read critical reviews from this site. It is usually very useful plus jam-packed with a great time for me and my office acquaintances to search your site more than thrice in one week to see the newest things you have. Of course, I’m always satisfied considering the splendid techniques served by you. Some 1 ideas in this posting are unquestionably the most effective we have all had.

  45. jordan shoes says:

    I together with my guys have already been looking at the excellent things from the website while before long developed a horrible feeling I had not expressed respect to the website owner for those tips. Most of the people had been for this reason joyful to see all of them and have now sincerely been making the most of these things. Thank you for getting so thoughtful and then for making a choice on this form of marvelous subject matter millions of individuals are really wanting to know about. Our own sincere regret for not expressing appreciation to you sooner.


0 Flares Facebook 0 Twitter 0 0 Flares ×