CSUSM Arts & Lectures Series hosts dancer, activist Mayfield Brooks


Photo credit to Mayfield Brooks

CSUSM hosted Mayfield Brooks in the Arts & Lectures series on Feb. 18.

Jaelyn Decena, A&E Editor

CSUSM‘s Arts & Lectures series hosted their second event of the semester,“DE-Composing Dance: A Discourse for Dance Decomposition and Choreographies of Breath,” featuring Mayfield Brooks on Feb. 18.

Mayfield Brooks is a New York-based dancer, “vocalist, urban farmer, teacher and writer,” according to their website bio. Brooks has an MFA in interdisciplinary performance from UC Davis and another master’s degree in performance studies from Northwestern University. 

Brooks combines activism with art through their work. The performance “DE-Composing Dance: A Discourse for Dance Decomposition and Choreographies of Breath” is based off of their experience being quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic, living secluded in their apartment in Brooklyn, New York.

As someone who is transgender and Black, Brooks experiences what is known as intersectionality. Brooks explores this concept through “DE-Composing Dance,” as they almost cry out to historical transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson. Brooks said that they are strongly inspired by their “Black queer ancestors Marsha P Johnson and Julius Eastman.” 

Another one of Brooks’ works is titled “Improvising While Black,” a series of performances that explore the concepts of the “creation of spontaneous movement, racial representation, survival and a collective of dreams and desires for a different future.” 

The performance is completely improvised, and is also based off of Brooks’ experience as an urban farmer. Brooks’s piece plays off of the idea that like plants, humanity has many opportunities to explore the idea of rebirth and decomposition. 

“DE-Composing Dance” also explores the idea of breaking down the societal constructs that we currently live with. It is a call to action to recognize that there are other humans decomposing before us, and it’s vital for others to be inspired to do the work of bringing sunshine and life back to their lives.

Brooks also hopes for the deconstruction of ideas revolving around polarity, as life is more than just a series of one or the other. “DE-Composing Dance” encourages thinking that has to do with the fluidity of life, each day is a new opportunity as humans, like plants, go through a series of seasons of changes. 

To learn more about Brooks and their work, visit improvisingwhileblack.com/.

To find out about upcoming Arts & Lectures events, visit csusm.edu/al/index.html.

Jaelyn Decena is a transfer student from MSJC majoring in literature and writing studies with a double minor in film/TV production and film studies. She currently holds the position as the Arts & Entertainment section editor at The Cougar Chronicle. A fun fact about her is that she loves Disney and enjoys roller skating.