Middle and Upper School Arts News & Stories

Dance As Activism
Posted 01/14/2015 05:38PM


Contra-Tiempo, an urban Latin dance company based in Los Angeles, finds inspiration in the idea of resistance.

Ana Maria Alvarez, the company's artistic director, told Middle School students at an assembly today that "pushback is necessary" in our culture. "Resistance does not have to be negative," she said. "It can bring around shifts in thinking."

Drawing on salsa, hip hop, Afro-Cuban dance, and other forms of street dance, Contra-Tiempo explored themes related to immigration, poverty, race, and the politics of food.

The performance was part of the Middle School's assembly series on the theme of invisibility, which has featured speakers and performers on a range of subjects related to artistic expression, identity, and social justice.

Afterwards, the dancers met with Upper School dance students and talked about the company's creative process. Contra-Tiempo is drawn to difficult social issues, particularly the experiences of people who are "not cared about in this country," Alvarez said. They conduct research using media and documentary film, and do "story circling," based on a Native American practice, which encourages dancers to reflect on their personal experience and take a stand on an issue.

Their emotional involvement gives the work its energy and power. They want to unsettle their audience, encourage conversation about uncomfortable topics.

As Alvarez told the Middle School students: "Engagement back and forth with the audience is really important. We want to hear that we are making a difference."


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