On the series: Voices del Camino is our series of stories and reflections from the company, while on tour. El camino, in Spanish, literally means "the road"; but el camino is also the journey that we're on towards witnessing, creating, and sharing the beauty and complexity of humanity, and towards transforming our world through love and movement.

Raleigh, NC | Compassionate Community at NCSU, by Ana Maria Alvarez

North Carolina always feels like a bit of a homecoming for me (afterall, my brother and I were born here, my parents met here, and I went to high school in Greensboro). I get excited by coming “back home”, but also a little nervous. I have some violent memories of this place from childhood (enough to fill a whole other blog post or two), and recently North Carolina passed one of the most horrendous pieces of anti-LGBT, anti-worker legislation: HB 2, the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act. This Act:

  • requires transgender people (and everyone else) to use public restrooms according to the biological sex on their birth certificate
  • strips North Carolina workers of the ability to sue under a state anti-discrimination law
  • bans local minimum wage laws like the $15-an-hour "living wage" ordinances gaining traction around the country. The state minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
Our dancers lead a Salsa Rueda class in the NCSU Commons

Our dancers lead a Salsa Rueda class in the NCSU Commons

The week we were gearing up to come out to Raleigh, the start our four-city tour (supported by the South Arts Dance Tour Initiative), other artists were beginning to cancel shows, boycott and create economic sanctions for NC, to send a strong anti-HB 2 message. Our work has always been about creating dialogue and building compassion and community, though, so we knew that now, maybe more than ever, we NEEDED to be in North Carolina. We rolled our sleeves up and got ready for the work we had ahead of us. 

I had visited Sharon and Stephanie and their team at NCSU in October 2015, to plant seeds for a powerful (albeit brief) residency in Raleigh that included several lecture demonstrations, master classes, community meet-and-greets, lunch meetings and a choreographic lab. 

CONTRA-TIEMPO shares smiles with Dr. Alison Arnold

CONTRA-TIEMPO shares smiles with Dr. Alison Arnold

We found the students that we met on campus to be bright, engaged, politically conscious and fired up. They had so much to share and teach us about HB 2. We learned that the NCSU Student Senate had voted to ignore the legislation, deeming it unconstitutional, against Federal law, and against the anti-discrimination policy at NCSU! We heard about the struggles they were having to advocate for true diversity on their campus. We met future engineers, designers, and architects who will be designing levies and water treatment systems and who felt frustrated that in their chemistry classes, although they were learning the equations for how to measure contamination in water, they weren't talking about Flint. We encouraged them to start those conversations with their professors. It was exciting to meet young people who were so clear about their own personal responsibility to positively impact this world. 


The dialogue is happening. The compassionate community exists. And we’re honored to be part of it and help continue to move it forward. Thank you, NCSU!

(Mother Jones article on HB 2)