Ordway Blog: Stay connected here with what is happening at Ordway and take a look at what is going on behind the scenes.
Wed, Nov 17, 2010 11:21 AM by Kristie Gaalswyk
The Los Angeles based dance company, CONTRA-TIEMPO, is a social activist dance company that infuses Afro-Cuban, hip-hop and abstract dance-theater to change the way people experience social dancing. The Ordway talked with the founder and director, Ana Maria Alvarez, to gain more insight on this spectacular dance company and its ability to transform the world through dance.
How did the idea for CONTRA-TIEMPO come about?
CONTRA-TIEMPO began as single dance piece. It was my thesis concert from graduate school. It was an exploration of Salsa as a metaphor for social and political resistance. I was fascinated by the idea that “pushing back” at the time, especially in dealing with the immigration debates, was being called anti-American. This “pushing back” or what I call resistance in Salsa, is the key for communication between partners as well as the key to being American. America was founded on redefining and transforming circumstance and pushing back, standing up for what you believe in. This piece has now become the inspiration for much of my work with the idea of using the social dance form of Salsa as a tool to teach communication, compassionate partnership and social responsibility. This can be done all through the experience of dancing!
What makes CONTRA-TIEMPO stand out from other dance companies?
One of the main things is our diversity as performers - none of us has the same training, background, but we all have at least one form that is our expertise. Through this, we create a powerful and compelling tapestry onstage that is amazing to witness! We are about not only sharing ourselves as artists, but also sharing ourselves as human beings. We live and breathe our work. We are the voices we are representing on the concert stage and the authenticity of what we are saying speaks to people across cultural, geographic and economic divides. We are portraying characters on stage. We are portraying life and audiences recognize that. We are also committed to building a collective of powerful and self-expressed artists. I know many companies are made up of individuals, I feel like we are who we are because of the community we have built offstage. You feel our connection to one another onstage and it is this that makes our work powerful.
How does CONTRA-TIEMPO “transform the world through dance”?
Through our choreographic work, arts residencies, master classes, through our writings, interviews and lecture demonstrations, and through the way we share our work and ourselves. Every opportunity we get! Our goal is to leave ripples of inspiration in every place we go!
CONTRA-TIEMPO infuses Salsa, Afro-Cuban, West African, Hip-Hop, and abstract dance-theater. How are you able to combine these very unique genres of dance into a cohesive dance piece?
I think the mistake so many folks make, who do fusion work, is to have each form remain intact. I am not interested in being a company that does each form the way it is done traditionally. I am interested in working with the essences of each form and creating a new genre that draws on these essential qualities of each form. I play a lot with rhythm and timing to create a fusion that feels seamless.
Why did you decide to combine these particular dance genres?
They are the genres that I have trained in my whole life and the movement forms that our dancers have brought to the table! They are also all forms that exist in the Black/Brown experience in the U.S.
What do you hope audiences will take away from a CONTRA-TIEMPO performance?
I hope they will leave inspired. I hope at some point during the show they will see either their own experience onstage, or that they will be able to fully connect with and relate to someone else's experience. I hope that they leave feeling filled up and overflowing with questions, thoughts and a newfound sense of engagement!
In addition to your dance performances, your company also conducts workshops and classes. Why do you find the educational component of your work to be important?
This part of our work is crucial. Our commitment is to empower individuals and create community without breaking that fourth wall. If we didn’t ever roll up our sleeves and engage fully through our teaching, I don't think our work would be as powerful. Our inspiration comes from working directly with folks and listening in our teaching.
What do you hope to instill in the students of your workshop/classes?
1 - Compassionate partnership
2 - That anything is possible
3 - That they are part of something much larger than themselves
4- Contribution to others is empowering
CONTRA-TIEMPO will be performing on the Ordway stage for one-night-only on November 19, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.
Posted in CONTRA-TIEMPO
Wed, Nov 10, 2010 2:38 PM by Danielle Schumann
The Ordway is gearing up for a jam-packed series of events with CONTRA-TIEMPO, the urban Latin dance company from Los Angeles. Ana María Alvarez, founder and director, will make personal appearances at a number of Twin Cities schools and community organizations during her time here. Best of all, she and her company members are leading two salsa dance classes open to the general public on Monday and Tuesday next week.
These workshop classes offer you the rare opportunity to learn Casino Rueda: Cuban Salsa danced in a circle with frequent partner changes. CONTRA-TIEMPO will also introduce you to concepts of “compassionate partnering.” These classes will certainly leave you feeling inspired, productive, engaged, and communicating better with barriers broken down. No partner is required and any level of experience is welcome.
Community Latin Social Dance Classes with CONTRA-TIEMPO
Monday November 15, 6:30pm—8:00pm
Tuesday November 16, 6:30pm—8:00pm
The Ordway, Drake Room [Please enter through Stage Door on 5th Street]
$10; Free with a ticket to the public performance on Friday, November 19
RSVP to Amy Miller (651.282.3017; firstname.lastname@example.org)
It’s worth arriving early to the CONTRA-TIEMPO show on Friday, November 19 for the Ordway Extra which runs 6:30pm-7:00pm in the Marzitelli Foyer. At this point, you have your ticket for CONTRA-TIEMPO, the urban Latin dance company from Los Angeles. Their show will fuse Salsa, Afro-Cuban, West African, hip-hop, and abstract dance-theater to create an invigorating blend of physically intense and politically astute performance. To warm you up for this show, the Ordway Extra presents a dynamic duo of local Latina artists: Maria Isa and Shira Naharit. These wonderful artists will share original work reflecting their unique Latina voices.
Born and raised in the Twin Cities to NuyoRican parents, emcee/singer/songwriter Maria Isa is recognized for celebrating her cultural diversity through music and political activism. Like CONTRA-TIEMPO, Isa believes in creating performances that address community and identity while moving body, soul, and mind. She is recognized as a 2010 Rising Star by the National Hispaña Leadership Institute for her outstanding work with incarcerated youth throughout the Twin Cities. She is also co-founder of SotaRica, an independent record label.
Shira Naharit is a writer, painter, and yogini living in the Twin Cities. A native of Minnesota, she grew up strongly influenced by her Seminole and Cuban ancestry, developing an early love of oral storytelling and magical realism. Shira was published in International Family Magazine, and won a mentorship in the Loft’s Inroads program for emerging Latino writers. Shira also won a residency at the University of San Francisco, and studied with acclaimed Chicana writer Ana Castillo. Shira is most recently the recipient of a Playwrights’ Center Many Voices Fellowship.
Together, Isa and Naharit will engage themes of language, gender and culture, while sharing personal stories as artists. This special event is not to be missed!
This blog is a group effort by Ordway staff, actors, artists, musicians, dancers and all those involved in the creative process of performances, programs and events at the Ordway to provide a behind the scenes look at what happens onstage, backstage and in support of the work presented at the Ordway. We also hope to discuss pertinent topics in our industry.
The purpose of this blog is to engage with you in the blogosphere. We wish to let you know that our posts do not go through any official editorial process for spelling, grammar or fact checking, therefore errors may occur – please be kind! Every blog post is open for public comment, questions or suggestions and the Ordway chooses not to pre-screen these responses. That being said, we do reserve the right to remove any offensive, illegal, or inappropriate content at the Ordway's sole discretion.
As part of our new branding initiative surrounding the joy provided by performing arts, by posting a comment, question or suggestion you provide the Ordway with the right to use your submission for marketing and promotional purposes. (I know, I know, I promise to not make future posts as boring as this one!)
Phew! I'm done talking "legal jargon." Thanks for stopping by and reading our blog!