Mariana Valencia


Photography by Valeda Beach Stull

Featuring Mariana Valencia

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and I’ve lived in Brooklyn, New York for the last 13 years.

Where were you photographed for this story?
I was photographed at a dance studio where I’m currently a resident artist. The organization, Movement Research has granted me a space residency this fall and this is the Edens Expressway dance studio that they collaborate with to provide studio space for dance artists. Edens Expressway is one of those rare gems in New York that still has the energy of old New York from the 60s postindustrial/postmodernist dance era in the SoHo neighborhood.

Please describe who you are / what you do.
I’m a choreographer and performer, I define this as being a dance artist. I make performances in which I amass movement and language. In them, the body is witnessed as the central force through which I transmit my energy to the viewers. I work through marginal subjects that create kinship networks through the collective experience with the viewer and the many worlds that I invoke with my body.

What are you working on / interested in / preoccupied with at the moment?
I’ve recently made the choice to focus on my art making full time. This means that I no longer work a day job-- something that for artists in the US is very difficult to achieve. It feels liberating, and challenging but I cannot complain because I’d rather spend my energy creatively than feel consumed by a work structure that places my creativity as a secondary priority.

Do you make time for self care, and if so what are some of your rituals or routines?
I enjoy going to the Russian Baths in the East Village, it’s an old institution in New York. I like sitting there and sweating out whatever toxins the world delivers and it’s good for my sore joints. I either go alone or with a friend, I highly recommend the experience to anyone, it’s a no frills kind of place where all sorts of people come together. I typically follow this up with a japanese meal or a hearty bowl of borscht. I also enjoy cycling, it’s thrilling to feel the elements pass me as I move through space at a fast speed.

Are you interested in the unseen? What does spirituality mean to you?
I believe in the unseen, the energy comes from what we each carry within ourselves and when it encounters those around us. I have participated in sacred dance ceremonies in Belize where families convene with their ancestors through the movement of dance. That experience has been a truthful window into the unseen realm. This mode of communication is often times deemed as occult, but in my experience, the unseen worlds that we carry and that surround us are always there, we just have to let them into our lives so that we can feel more attuned to our past and present.

Pick a current favourite:

song -
“As” by Stevie Wonder

book -
“A Little Life” Hanya Yanagihara

item of clothing -
French cut cotton underwear

recipe -
My grandmother’s pound cake recipe

scent -

artist/maker -
Strauss Bourque LaFrance
Mariana wears the Diamond Kimono MACA in small from AW 19/20.