"How much is a migrant worth in southern Mexico? A migrant's worth 100 pesos, or 9 bucks, to the border guard who slips him into the country. He's worth 150 pesos to the bus driver who overcharges him for a ride. He's worth 200 pesos to the cop who shakes him down on the highway heading north."
In my dancing career I've played many parts: A fairy, a vivacious young spanish girl, cupid, snowflake, doppleganger of the Baby Grace (and that last one is not my strangest yet). This time, I got to step into the shoes of a migrant worker.
When we mounted a version of this show last spring, it was a learning experience for me, and it was a learning experience this time around as well. The ballets in this show tackle subjects such as César Chávez, working in the fields, the life of a farm worker, and migrant workers in search of a decent wage...and the lengths they must go to to find it.
Our final piece, and probably my favorite one in this particular production, is called Marketplace; from the NPR show of the same name. Our piece focuses on a segment from January 2007 called "Migrants as Pesos." We are telling the story of people who are leaving their homeland. We are on the lookout for the authorities. Someone keeps watch as the rest of us rest uncomfortably on the ground, piled on top of one another. We sustain injuries (in one phrase we turn holding the bottom of our foot-- many of these people are making this journey barefoot. Just.....think about that one. Are you holding your foot and cringing now? Thought so). At one point we precariously cross a river, which in our piece is made of a line of dancers rolling towards us. I feel that the choreography accurately drives the point across-- to both the audience and the dancers performing it.
Perhaps my favorite passage from the text is the final paragraph:
"The town of Arriaga is where migrants with no money end up. It's the departure point for a freight train headed north. There are dozens of people waiting in the pouring rain for the train to pass — though you'd never know it. You can't see them. When the train springs to life at daybreak, migrants emerge from the tree canopy, from under cardboard, from between grave stones. They emerge from the shadows to gather along the tracks, hundreds of them, a silent army." (Source)
It gives me chills every time.