Queer Mvmnt Fest: Interview with Michelle Morales
Michelle Morales is an Afro-Latinx, Queer Dance Artist, Educator, and Speaker. Her work is rooted in co-creating a world with more joy, love, and freedom of self-expression. She creates personal development dance programs to guide adults and youth to change the way they relate to themselves so they can step fully into their embodied warrior selves. In our interview, she speaks to her history with dance, and how her work embodies her beliefs and experiences.
Tell us about your history with dance, performance, film, and art practice. How has it influenced your voice as a choreographer?
My name is Michelle Morales and I am a Queer, Afro-Latinx Creative Artist, Educator, and Speaker. I grew up dancing to a variety of Latin rhythms with my family and had my first stage performance at the age of 5. If feels important for me to share that my mother is also a dancer and was my first dance instructor. As a child, I remember my mother cultivating joy, community, and resiliency through dance. I was inspired by her and inevitably followed into her steps. Dance helped me survive my childhood adversity. It gave me strength, joy, confidence, access to my emotions, and freedom of self-expression. Dance inspired me to imagine a world of possibilities and forget about my fears and worries for the moment. As an adult, dance along with therapy supported my personal growth and healing journey. This inspired me to create a psychology-based coaching and personal development dance program to support people in living more authentically. I also created dance programs within the school setting to support youth with their social-emotional skills. Historically, my solo pieces have been inspired by my deep desire to cultivate self-love, connect to my spirit and ancestors, and fully express my essence, divinity, and joy. The journey to creating these pieces has required me to dismantle and deconstruct my internalized oppression, including my internalized anti-blackness, white supremacy, suppression of my sexuality, and body shame. This process has also revealed to me the ways I’ve been conditioned to relate to others, which often included the tendency to compare, judge, shame, and project. It also called me to look at the ways I relate to power and control. Becoming aware of the ways I relate to myself and others has supported my deep desire to build a better world. My work is rooted in co-creating a world with more joy, love, freedom of self-expression, and awareness in the ways we relate to ourselves and each other. I do this through my dance programs and classes, personal development workshops, speaking events, and sharing my journey with my community online. I recently quit my full-time job as a School Psychologist for reasons related to systemic racism, unsustainable working conditions, and the impact it has had on my mental health. This was an extremely difficult decision to make as I understand the importance of my contributions in educational institutions as a Queer Black, Indigenous, and Person of Color (BIPOC). However, I have slowly began to understand the greater opportunity I have to create social change outside of these institutions. I have decided to pour my heart into rebuilding my business as a Creative Artist, Educator, and Performer to create the world I yearn for. I am in the midst of creating my crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to startup my company. I am teaching a Queer Partner Salsa Dance Lesson at the Queer Mvmnt Festival on Friday. This workshop is donation based and the funds raised will be used for the team, marketing tools and content, and energy needed to expand my mission to co-create a world with more joy, love, freedom of self-expression, and awareness in the ways we relate to ourselves and each other through my offerings, which also include my creative projects. Your contributions are greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.
Michelle Morales will be teaching a Queer Partner Salsa Dance Lesson on Friday June 24th. You can use the link below to sign up and learn more about the class and other events happening during Queer Mvmnt Fest. We have film screenings, performances, panel discussions, and workshops throughout the 4 day festival. Queer Mvmnt Fest is the first of many actions towards representation and celebration of queer and BIPOC dance artists in the San Diego community.