“joyUS justUS” is an evening length participatory Urban Latin Dance Theater experience that takes on joy as the ultimate expression of resistance. Whenever humans have survived immense hardship and injustice, prevailing with their humanity intact, the presence of joy or, the knowingness and celebration of our true beauty and power has always been at the root. “joyUS justUS” reclaims the dominant deficit based narrative of people of color in this country as being underprivileged, voiceless, powerless, and victimized, and flips it on its head by embodying stories of joy collected from communities of color in South Los Angeles. The stories shared in this work are personal truths about the power of hope, faith, and family, the strength of the villages that have raised our children and the wealth that lives in our collective histories of struggle and resistance.
These truths are embodied through the technically rigorous social dance forms that were born out of these experiences, that are at the root of our company’s Urban Latin Dance technique, and that are the physical embodiment of that most powerful, healing joy. Through the conversations with South LA communities, retelling their stories through movement on the concert stage, inviting audiences locally and nationally to actively participate in what they’re experiencing on the stage, and continuing to engage broader audiences in the telling of their own truths, we are creating spaces of joy and healing, allowing the collective “us” to feel more connected, loved, powerful, and alive.
"joyUS justUS" was a deeply collaborative effort. Conceived and directed by Ana Maria Alvarez the piece includes choreograph by Alvarez and each company member who contributed their ideas and unique movement palate of styles, music by Las Cafeteras, whose powerful East L.A. sound and socio-political message closely compliment our own, d. Sabela Grimes, whose soundprints were the heart beat of Agua Furiosa, Charlese Antoinette, whose costumes help our dancers radiate joy and power, Emily Orling whose altar quilts create a beautifully sacred visual environment and Tuce Yasak, whose technical direction has literally brought light to so many of our stages.
"joyUS justUS" could not have be created without the generous support of the following: The James Irvine Foundation, Mapfund, Doris Duke Foundation/DanceUSA, New England Foundation for the Arts, National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, California Arts Council, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, L.A. Department of Cultural Affairs, and Ordway Center for the Performing Arts who generously commissioned the work. The work will be touring to over 20 cities in the next two years.
Agua Furiosa challenges audiences to confront harsh realities of race in our country. Inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Oya, the Afro-Cuban deity of wind and storms, artistic director and choreographer Ana María Alvarez, harnesses her unique Urban-Latin movement approach to create a visually stunning and thought provoking evening of dance performance. Agua Furiosa merges call and response, a live vocalist, water themes, fierce physicality and the performers’ own personal narratives. Audiences walk away from Agua Furiosa, impacted and inspired to locate themselves inside the complex and transforming conversation of race in America. Creative collaborators include sound designer d. sabela grimes, vocalist Pyeng Threadgill, lighting designer Masha Tsimring and dramaturg Michael Garces.
For more information and a link to resources about the themes and inspiration driving Agua Furiosa, check out our blog. You can also read the program notes from the show's premiere at the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, and view a trailer of the work.
The creation and presentation of Agua Furiosa is supported by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project (NEFA/NDP), with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC), Center for Creative Innovation (CCI) and Engaging Dance Audiences, administered by Dance/USA and made possible with generous funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Through generous support of the Princess Grace Foundation, Choreographer Marjani Forté set an original new work on the company called SHE WHO: Frida, Mami & Me. SHE WHO: Frida, Mami, & Me is a dance work looking at the life, mythology, and properties of Mexican Visual Artist Frida Kahlo and Mami Wata, a powerful water deity found across the African Diaspora. Their stories, timeless and provocative, have spurred a nuanced and multi-cultural dialogue between African American choreographer Marjani Forte-Saunders and the Urban Latin Dance Theater CONTRA TIEMPO. Together, they traverse the turbulent waters of protest, feminism, resilience, and identity through these earthly and mystic beholders of culture. Costume design by David Reynoso. Lighting design by Tuce Kasak. Media design by Meena Murugesan. Sound design by d. Sabela Grimes. Our first stage showing of the piece at the Ford Amphitheater's summer 2016 Signature Series, received humbling praise.
Full Still Hungry, which premiered September 23, 2011 to a sold out Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, CA. CONTRA-TIEMPO brings together Salsa, Afro-Cuban, urban and contemporary dance-theater, to create an invigorating blend of physically intense and politically astute performance work about food and consumption. Artistic director Ana Maria Alvarez states, "Food is not just the material I put in my body to sustain life - but a web of relationships, histories, choices, decisions that all impact the world around us." These complexities are brought to life through the company's evocative and eclectic movement approach with original music composed by co founder and resident composer, César Alvarez, and is performed live with a six piece band, of all star musicians. Whether you are devouring the fruit of Carmen's headpiece, indulging in Moros Y Cristianos (the Cuban version of black beans and rice), or tasting each performers' deeply personal connection to food and family, Full Still Hungry serves up a blend of both physical intensity with invigorating contemplations.
What audiences are saying about "Full Still Hungry"
" I was blown away. The narrative (as expressed in words, music, movement, costumes, lighting) translated into some of the most powerful dance theater I have ever experienced."
"I was impressed by the accessibility and total hybridization of dance, theater and music - allworking together to reach out and take hold of people's hearts"
" The work was distinctive, the company danced beautifully, the live music and stories were powerful. The space was magical"
" CONTRA-TIEMPO's FULL.STILL.HUNGRY is a master-work that combines emotionally charged choreography, sharp cultural commentary, and an unrelenting sense of humor"
FULL.STILL.HUNGRY is supported by a grant from The James Irvine Foundationand CounterPULSE's Performing Diaspora Program.. Special thanks to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for their continuing support of the John Anson Ford Theatres, a County Regional Park operated by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.
I Dream America is a 40-minute movement opera, which primarily seeks to engage the tensions, commonalities, strains and histories between the Black and Latino communities. Traversing the political landscape of immigration and Hurricane Katrina, I Dream America will investigate compassion and peace and paint a disarming and thought-provoking critique of contemporary life and injustice. Parts of the piece were debuted in Mexico as part of the Festival Internacional de Teatro de Los Angeles (FITLA). The first full performance of this work was debuted in Los Angeles at the Unknown Theater in July 2007. Between 2008-2010 the company performed the work in North Carolina, Georgia, New York, Washington D.C, Virginia, California, Washington DC, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Minnesota.
Ana Maria Alvarez’s first evening length piece, grew out of her thesis work at UCLA’s Department of World Arts & Cultures and gave root to CONTRA-TIEMPO as a socially engaged dance company. Salsa is a dance form that is rooted in Cuban and Puerto Rican cultural tradition. It is laden with social and political contradictions; a dance of resistance. Salsa is an improvisational form that is created and recreated with every new combination of people that dance it; a dance of change. Born from the fusion of African and Spanish musical influences, Salsa was originally created as a cultural voice and form of expression for working class people; a dance of the times. Salsa has always been a patriarchal dance form, in that men are leaders and women are followers. In more recent times, the over sexualized representations of women have gotten more extreme, especially in styles that have been popularized by ballroom dancing and Hollywood films. The cast of CONTRA-TIEMPO flips the script on who leads who... Together they move resistance from being adversarial to being the fundamental key for communication and empowerment between partners and for a people.
The Duet is a piece about power. An audience favorite, it captures beautifully the humorous and sometimes frustrating opposition between fighting and giving in. The piece can be performed alone or as part of AGAINST THE TIMES.
A work commissioned in 2008 by New Dance at Saint Joseph Ballet in Orange County - this piece is set on the MEN of CONTRA-TIEMPO and is a fierce display of the company's signature Urban Latin Dance Theater physicality and strength. Six men dance, crash, lift, fall, throw and explode the intersections and contradictions of manhood, survival and community within the context of war.
Articles written about this piece:
A work created for CELEBRATE DANCE 2008 - Produced by Jamie Nichols. This piece is a comic and grotesque commentary on the 'Plastic' facade of Salsa. A dance form that started as a voice for regular people and an expression of history, power and opinions, has been transformed into a de-politicized, hyper-sexual exaggeration of the Latino body.