A Letter from Ana Lejava, Director of Smashworks Advocacy

I am an immigrant dancer from Georgia, a product of post-soviet nationalism, and abstract realism; I am the generation born after the fall of a Berlin wall and one that idealized the American sense of freedom, diversity,  individualism, and activism. I grew up doing homework on candlelight, training in the frozen studios with the broken windows and no heating. I saw poverty and struggle since early age, and lived through two wars and never, but despite the challenges growing up, dance gave me the conviction and strength to look beyond the upsetting realities, imagine the better world and to dream about change. Decade ago dance brought me to the States. Without any knowledge of English language,, I was able to assimilate with American culture and make a new home for myself through the powerful and universal language of dance. It has become my passion to use dance as a vehicle for individual transformation and positive change in the society, especially addressing such social justice and human rights issues like immigration, a topic directly impacting mine and my friends’ lives. For the past two years, I have been trying to find the outlets and resources to actualize my social entrepreneurship pursuits, building a network of like-minded artists. It was meant to be that exactly at this moment in life, I was reconnected with my college classmate and a friend, artistic director and founder of Smashwork’s Dance Collective  Ashley McQueen. After sharing our ideas and objectives, we found mutual vision and the purpose. We believe that Dance as an art, carries more responsibility and weight than just a form of entertainment or artistic pursuit, and it our calling to be the social entrepreneurs, driving change with specific causes using our skill set. I could not have wished for better timing for this opportunity to present itself, and I can't think of a better person and the team to work work on this cause.