Taja Will (they/them) is a non-binary, chronically ill, queer, Latinx (Chilean) adoptee. They are a performer, choreographer, somatic therapist, consultant and Healing Justice practitioner based in Mni Sota Makoce, on the ancestral lands of the Dakota and Anishinaabe. Taja’s approach integrates improvisation, somatic modalities, text and vocals in contemporary performance. Their aesthetic is one of spontaneity, bold choice making, sonic and kinetic partnership and the ability to move in relationship to risk and intimacy. Will’s artistic work explores visceral connections to current socio-cultural realities through a blend of ritual, dense multi-layered worldbuilding and everyday magic.
Taja initiates solo projects and teaching ventures and is a recent recipient of the Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship, in the dance field, awarded in 2021. Their work has been presented throughout the Twin Cities and across the United States. Including local performances at the Walker Art Center Choreographer’s Evening, the Red Eye Theater’s New Works 4 Weeks, the Radical Recess series, Right Here Showcase and the Candy Box Dance Festival. They were the recipient of a 2018-’19 McKnight Choreography Fellowship, administered by the Cowles Center and funded by The McKnight Foundation. Will has recently received support from the National Association of Latinx Arts & Culture, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and Metropolitan Regional Arts Council.
In 2015 Will instigated the Taja Will Ensemble, a project based, contemporary performance-making collective of artists. The culture of this ensemble exists as a collective of artists working with modular hierarchies, collaborative authorship, and cultural equity practices in the artist workplace. TWE enthusiastically adopted the We Have Voice code of conduct in 2018, and even through shifting collaborators and new projects, we find foundation in space and abundance listening for each other’s access needs; physical, emotional and spiritual.
TWE has produced works such as Gospels of Oblivion: To the End, Blood Language the performance and digital archive, and dance film LÍNEAS de SANGRE. Amongst these performance we’ve had several iterations, excerpted performance in collaboration with touring ventures and partnerships with The National Center of Choreography Akron, New Movement Collaborative (Boston), the Lion’s Jaw Festival (Boston), The Walker Art Center, Candy Box Dance Festival, the Cowles Center, the McKnight Foundation and more. TWE is currently working on a new performance, Dearest Liberator, DISASTER! DISASTER! DISASTER! with ongoing primary collaborators Marisol Herling, Marggie Ogas and Brandon Musser. In 2021 TWE contracted over 15 independent artists, majority QT + BIPOC for our project LÍNEAS de SANGRE and aims to continue to work in community centering QT + BIPOC, and diaspora artist voices.
In other forms of healing and community work, Taja maintains a dynamic Healing Justice practice that includes consulting with individuals, organizations, and communities in the context of workshops, conflict mediation, one-on-one somatic healing sessions, nervous system triage, disability justice and access training, board development and organizational cultural competency, and individual coaching on unwinding from white body supremacy culture.
Their training and foundations are in developmental psychotherapy, Body-Mind Centering (™), Energy Medicine, and they are a certified Somatic Attachment Therapy practitioner. Taja values blending approaches to tailor to each client’s desires and needs.
They ground their work in indigenous solidarity and decolonization as a means to undo white and able body supremacy and its pervasive relationship to capitalism. Taja is committed to working for healing and liberation of Black, Indigenous and people of color and radical care work for folks with chronic illness and disabilities.
My first collaborations with Taja Will were characterized by devising, co-improvisations, and leanings toward the non-hierarchical, and yet even through those horizontal leadership structures I quickly developed the desire to be in a coaching and learning relation with Taja. Taja’s strength is complex and manifold. Taja’s laughter is incisive and is medicine. Taja is ready like water, to bathe you or swallow you or demonstrate the mystery of stillness or ebb with the rocking of the planet and its satellites… just like all the liquid in your body.
In both our artistic and personal partnerships, I have witnessed Taja wrought wisdom, compassion, mind-body fluency, and a well-practiced receptivity that I understand as not just receptivity to what is immediately perceivable, but as vision. These all are wrought into integrations that serve justice — a justice that is honest, complex and fluid to the needs of the moment and the persons in the circle.
The coaching and guidance that I received from Taja came at a pivotal moment in my artistic career, and a tumultuous moment in my personal life. Taja put a lot of energy into affirmations of boundaries, affirmations of present-moment-situation, affirmations of curiosity in the process.. all while simultaneously providing critical response to the technical aspects of my artmaking. Because of this guidance, I was able to accept that all moments and aspects of my experience would be part of the process, whether I liked it or not. Taja also modeled for me ways to articulate the inseparability of my values from my artistic compositions, and ways to evaluate how my values were showing up.
Creating arts and cultural works within the systems that we do is challenging. These systems drive artists like so many cattle from “opportunity” to “opportunity”, and ask us to establish categories that may not fit our work, our bodies, our experiences. For a long time, my career has been stuck in a liminal space between emerging and emerged, without the tools to vision myself outside of that framework. After the coaching agreement with Taja was completed and my work was witnessed, it was the first time that I was able to witness my own work with acceptance. I was able to break a pattern of harmful self-deprecation. I was able to see my own agency, and see my work as a point in a continuum. I am certain that I will experience the benefits of working with Taja Will for many years to come. – Kat Purcell activist, performance & installation artist.