American Artscape Notable Quotable: Vanessa Sanchez of La Mezcla

By Paulette Beete
Vanessa Sanchez, who is a Mexican woman performs on a wooden platform. She is holding an orange scarf

Vanessa Sanchez of La Mezcla. Photo by Danica Paulos, courtesy of Jacob's Pillow

"My heritage drives everything that I do through dance, everything that I do with the company, everything that I do in my daily life. I use “we” a lot during interviews and grant applications because I truly feel that this is much bigger than me. I'm here because of my ancestors. I would not be doing what I'm doing if it weren't for my grandfather crossing the border in the 1940s, if it weren't for my grandmother who was a migrant farm worker her entire childhood. I wouldn't be able to do any of this if it weren't for the hundreds and hundreds of people who, despite colonization, land stolen, the generational trauma of enslavement, continued to fight for a better future for generations, five generations down the line, ten generations down the line."

Vanessa Sanchez is the founding artistic director of the San Francisco-based dance company La Mezcla. Whether it’s the role of women in the Zoot Suit movement of the 1940s or the complexity of how migrant farm workers feel about their work, Sanchez is interested in telling overlooked stories of the Hispanic/Latinx community. In the new issue of American Artscape, Sanchez describes what led to the founding of La Mezcla, and the challenges and opportunities of being a culturally specific dance company.