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A three-part workshop series + co-created performance

On Being American is a participatory dance-theater work that investigates how we think of, relate to, and understand what American citizenship signifies. Premiering in November 2017 at the Miles Memorial Playhouse, On Being American weaves together gathered stories from local communities including students, immigrants, veterans, refugees, school teachers, musicians, and retirees. Artistic Director Christine Suarez will lead the workshops. Christine and collaborating artist Shelby Williams-Gonzales will perform the full 45-minute piece at all locations. The pair is eager to work in conjunction with partner sites to ensure the project is organically woven into the ongoing activities.


• Partner organizations collaborate with Suarez Dance Theater; logistics, specific duration and quantity of workshops are are fine-tuned based on the needs of the participants.

• At each site, participants are invited to be interviewed. As a result, the project continues to evolve and grow: reflecting different stories and points of view.

• At minimum, three 60-minute workshops, a collective performance, and 20-30 minute post-performance discussion.


Books/articles/podcast of interest:

Quindlen, Anna. “A Quilt of a Country.”

1619 Project Podcast

On Being American is a project conceived by Christine Suarez, choreographed in collaboration with Shelby Williams-Gonzalez, and developed with

local residents and interviewees.

Direction and dramaturgy by Nguyen Nguyen

Original sound design and editing by Skye Steele

Costume design by Michelle Groisman.


On Being American was made possible through support from the Community Access & Participation Grant from Santa Monica Cultural Affairs and individual donors. Christine is also honored to have received an Artist Fellowship grant from the city of Santa Monica

to support this project.

Top two images were created by high school students reflecting on how they see themselves in relationship to the United States. The bottom images were written by audiences when asked what they could do to make this country a better place. These images and writings become a part of the performance – allowing the project to carry ideas from each site.

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