Interview with Zaquia Mahler Salinas 8/26/2020
DISCO RIOT Artistic Director and Co-Founder, Zaquia Mahler Salinas, is a native of San Diego. After receiving her BA in Dance with Honors from UC Santa Barbara in 2011, she returned to San Diego and danced for San Diego Dance Theater from 2012-2018. In 2017 she obtained her MFA in Dance: Creative Practice from Saint Mary’s College of California where she focused on artistic development and dance as a platform for social justice. She is currently serving as dance faculty at San Diego City College. As a choreographer, Zaquia has presented dance works throughout California, Texas, Peru, Mexico, and Palestine.
What projects are you currently working on?
Right now, I am working on a video dance project for DISCO RIOT called “Move American.” The project is made up of nine short creative dance video PSA’s made by movement-artists from San Diego, Los Angeles, Austin, New York, and Minneapolis. “Move American” is about inspiring people to use their voice for change, take action, and get out the vote! The 9-week campaign will launch on September 7th and run through November 2nd on the DISCO RIOT website and social media platforms.
How has this pandemic affected or shifted your practice?
The pandemic has been tough for dance artists! Most of what we do requires the ability to gather in space to have dance class, rehearse, and perform for live audiences. Lucky for us, technology has allowed for live-streamed and digital versions of all of this from home. While having enough space to really move has been a challenge, I feel like I’ve been able to make things work for my personal home practice. I have really leaned into my knowledge of videography and editing to pivot as much of the DISCO RIOT programming as possible to digital projects, so we have been able to continue our season almost uninterrupted. It might look and feel different than live, in person events, but I am proud that we have continued to provide opportunities for the community to connect with each other and engage with dance. Plus, I think the projects we’ve accomplished in the pandemic are pretty rad and special! We also recently started offering dance class in the park and that has been a nice way for us to share practice together in a socially distanced way.
What has your journey been like as an artist?
I’ve been dancing my whole life and I don’t feel like I can separate my life journey from my artistic one. What I can say is that I try to always be open to learning and I have allowed all of my experiences in the dance field to inform where I am today; supporting local dance artist and making dance that reflects the kind of community I want to be a part of is a mission I have committed to because of my experiences as a dance artist in San Diego.
Do you have any tips for up-and-coming, or rising artists?
Find your people and support, stand up for yourself and your art, be a part of creating an environment and a community that makes a difference. It can be really tough out there, but we need you! So find what lights your fire and keeps it fueled and don’t give up.