DANCE: Life Comes ‘Full Circle’ for Ana ‘Rokafella’ Garcia
ARTISTICALLY SPEAKING: Q&A WITH ANA ‘ROKAFELLA’ GARCIA
A women’s strength can be tested on many levels and, in the case of Ana ‘Rokafella’ Garcia, she leads by example through her passion for art, life and family. As managing director of Full Circle Productions (Full Circle Soul), Garcia instills a profound sense of respect for Hip Hop culture and dance. “In my experience it has been the children of the outcast or impoverished communities that take to Breaking. It becomes their way to create possibilities based on their newfound, well-earned respect,” she tells Tania Fuentez Media in an exclusive interview. “… there has always been an underlying solidarity among breakers _ whether built on the same bruises, scars or lack of funds to get the best kicks … we always feel for each other even if at a distance.”
This month, Garcia guest curates “Kaleidoscope of Dance” as part of CityParks Foundation’s SummerStage lineup. The production will span multiple dance genres and feature performances showcasing the diverse styles of the legendary House of Ninja, Milteri Tucker and KR3TS. Master Class by Full Circle will be from 7-8 p.m.
NOTE: All photos courtesy of Ana ‘Rokafella’ Garcia. SummerStage’s ‘Kaleidoscope of Dance’ will be on Saturday, June 30, 2012, at Saint Mary’s Park in the Bronx.
TFM: You have two major events coming up, Summerstage’s ‘Kaleidoscope of Dance’ and a birthday celebration for your better half, Gabriel ‘Kwikstep’ Dionisio. Excited? What’s it been like pulling things all together?
Rokafella: It is always exciting to be asked to recommend my friends to participate in a concert lineup – or curate – since most of my peers complain about feeling invisible to the masses. It is empowering to be in a position to help choose the performers. Alongside of that is the sometimes tedious managerial aspect that comes into play as you try to make sure they all get information and paperwork done promptly. Equally important is getting the word out or promoting the event to EVERYONE so the seats are filled and the performers get the artistic notoriety they deserve. It just so happens that Kwikstep’s birthday will line up for all of this dance outpouring in a perfect way so we get yet another reason to party at the new Gonzalez and Gonzalez. I trust it will all go smoothly. At this stage in my life, I know some things will not be perfect, but the show will go on!
TFM: You’ve seen Hip Hop go through a lot of phases since its infancy. Can the essence of this culture be preserved at this stage or has it been over-commercialized?
Rokafella: I believe Hip-hop was commercialized from its first appearances on the news and on entertainment shows. There would be no turning back from those moments back in the early 80s. There are those who would only experience it from their exposure to it in the mainstream, so that would be their reference. There will always be those creating it and archiving/documenting it, so this will always be available to those who crave the roots and want to learn from the masters. These two sides are not in opposition, just a parallel existence. Poverty is what fuels Hip-hop but it’s the need to get past just surviving that makes some people do crazy things. Each Hip-hop lover is gonna have their needs fulfilled by Hip-hop but it won’t be the same for everyone.
TFM: B-boying continues to resonate with an increasingly global audience. Why? What keeps you in the game all these years?
Rokafella: In my experience it has been the children of the outcast or impoverished communities that take to Breaking. It becomes their way to create possibilities based on their newfound, well-earned respect. The coordination they exhibit proves a high standard of intelligence. Everywhere I have visited, people are amazed by how breakers defy gravity and are so aggressive yet graceful. Ultimately you give everyone pounds (handshakes) when you are done … this one gesture is not evident in many of the other dance genres. It feels to me like there has always been an underlying solidarity among breakers _ whether built on the same bruises, scars or lack of funds to get the best kicks … we always feel for each other even if at a distance.
I invested a lot in this so I could never just walk away ‘cuz it’s over. Even when that day comes that I can’t go off anymore, I will still be connected to this ‘cuz it’s in my veins. There are always new faces and they are in need of a beacon, some example of knowledge and longevity, and I feel like that in the least of ways is what I can be.
TFM: When did you know dance changed your life and nothing would ever be the same? Was there a spiritual connection?
Rokafella: I think there were many events that pointed me in this direction . .. and as I walked this path, more signs confirmed my instinct to be correct. My seventh grade talent show performance, my first time at a club, hitting on the streets with the fellas, traveling overseas to perform while witnessing other cultures’ love for classic Hip-hop, creating theater pieces and performing my songs in the mecca – the hardest city in the world to make it – NYC, and then marrying my dance partner BreakMaster BBoy Kwikstep in 2000, and judging major international B-Boy competitions were a few of the milestone moments that have cemented me deeply to this culture. It became spiritual when I realized this Hip-hop thing kept me floating through the most darkest moments in my life. I felt the true power of dance boost me up.
TFM: Most valuable lesson you want to impart?
Rokafella: If you work on mastering your skills, everything will fall into place. The most important thing is to constantly create and evolve your artistic vision not to focus on making money. The money comes as the after effect. You have to truly love this.
TFM: Describe your signature move or stance. What makes you ‘get open’ and do the unimaginable time and time again when the vibe is right?
Rokafella: I can’t say that I have a signature move or pose but I always owned the fact that I was a woman … and that it was unorthodox to excel and take no shit from the guys. I celebrated my small victories against the negativity in my life through dance.
I get open when I hear a great DJ and the circle is full of potent energy that pulls on everyone … I constantly have to think about my injuries so “goin’ off” isn’t always possible for me. When everything is lined up just right, I offer the world some impressive moves and let them know if you see this little girl doing these difficult things … you can conquer your mountains too! We can do it together and represent the underdogs!! That is what I got from Hip-hop so many years ago … let’s be independent thinkers and represent how excellent we really can be, get to it!!
Full Circle Productions (Full Circle Soul): http://fullcirclesoul.com/
CityParks Foundation SummerStage: http://www.cityparksfoundation.org/summerstage/