¡azúcar! Program Notes
About this Piece
Artistic Director’s Note:
We are so grateful to finally share ¡azúcar! in our hometown. Whether you’ve been inside of the creative process with us as a student, a community participant in a lab, a friend, a family member, or if you’ve never experienced CONTRA-TIEMPO live - we are so glad you are here!
Over the last few years with my family, with our company, with my evolving relationship to spirit and through the art I’ve been engaged with, I have been astounded by the magic, miracles, seemingly coincidental signs, affirming that we are going to be okay. So it’s no coincidence that we’ve been deeply immersed in a work that asks, how do we learn to heal with our bodies as our guide? How can our bodies give us access to move through time, to look at our past and not turn away, to feel the grief and to access joy? How can the wisdom embedded in our ancestral movement practices help us feel the power of our connection to one another and to those who are no longer with us in this physical realm? What are the ways we can access a deep sense of well being and grounding inside of our beings, to feel our connection to something so much bigger than ourselves as individuals and be in kinship with our future ancestors?
Through the process of making ¡azúcar! I’ve continued to become clearer about my role as a choreographer, that the writing of dance for me is in the generating and holding of a space that feels generative, supportive, loving, rigorous and brave. The work is to bring together people who genuinely like one another and who I adore, to set some structures and intentions, to then roll up our sleeves and begin to play, generate, create, share and that from this grounding of respect and love for one another, we all begin to feel safer, more held, a sense of belonging. This allows us to show up fully and this deepening continues to spiral. Choreographing for me is community organizing, it’s trusting and inviting in the brilliance and magic of collaboration.
Every person on stage that you witness tonight has been invited to show up as their fullest selves. We have shared about those who are no longer with us, about the times in our lives that were most sweet and most hard - and through this range we have discovered what it feels like to be heard, to be witnessed, to belong. So tonight we invite you in - and welcome us all to ask you/ourselves.
Where are the places and practices where I/we feel most free? How do we learn to be still and listen? How do I/we learn to heal? How does that healing show up in my/our bodies? What does it move like? What does it feel like to listen to the wisdom embedded in our dancing, singing, breathing, vibrating bodies? Let’s build a future from this place.
with much love,
Ana Maria Alvarez
artistic vision, creative instigator, director, choreographer, community organizer
Jannet Galdamez: cielo
performer, rehearsal director, choreographer, creative generator
Kati Hernandez: celeoshun
cultural consultant, movement coach, collaborator, creative generator, guest artist
Ruby Morales: be(e)
performer and creative generator
Jasmine Stanley-Haskins: see see
performer, creative generator, vocalist
Alék G Lopéz: pi
performer and creative generator
Maria I. Garcia: ethereal grace
performer, creative generator, vocalist
Edgar Aguirre: jelik’ laj b’alam
performer and creative generator
Jose Jose Arrieta Cuesta: fe
performer and creative generator
video projection designer, creative collaborator
Lighting designer in collaboration with Maximiliano Urruzmendi
composer, sound designer, musician
composer, vibration vocalist, musician
Robert “Bobby” Wilmore
David Israel Reynoso
costume designer for performers
Costume designer assistant for performers
Costume designer for Celeoshun
visual design consultant
Maria I. Garcia
celeoshun headpiece designer and stylist, costume assistant
set and prop fabrication/design
responsive body ecologist, set and prop fabrication/design, embodied dramaturgy contributor
Juan “Co-eL” Rodriguez
apprentice and understudy
Felicia “Onyi” Richards
caña prop fabricator
Jocelyn Adame, Ulises Aguirre, Stephanie Ballena, Alejandro Barajas, Ariela Conde, Shana Christopher, Cinthia Duran, Kloii Hummingbird, Norma Ovalle, Edrian Pangilinan, Sydney Richardson
Azucar Negra by Celia Cruz
1619 Project / Nicole Hannah-Jones
My Grandmother's Hands /Resmaa Menakem Rest is Resistance /Tricia Hersey
Celia Cruz’s body of work and life story
Special thanks to our ancestors, you are here with us and we honor you:
Grammy, Aba, Sandy Smith, Cesar Cauce, Michael Nathan, Jim Waller, Bill Sampson, Tia Rebecca, Lela Gaby, Ruth Palacio Castellón, Deyanira Castro Diaz, Ana, Victor, Ajaw Kawoq, Ajaw Aj, Barbara Simmons, Louise Payne, Eddie Rios “El Toro”, Eulalia Gonzalez Conde, Maria de Los Angeles Galvan, Nicolas Garcia Ramirez, Lucila “Chila” Lopez, Rufina Barraza, Maria Balbina Bodrian
Thank you to our families, our friends and special thanks to Sally Alvarez, Joe Alvarez, Cesar Alvarez, Amen Santos, Onyi Love, Bernard Brown, and Farah Sosa. We would also like to thank Quetzal Flores for his continued work with us, helping us to move deeper in relationship with our values.
Thank you to Navarro’s Party Supply in Los Angeles for our sugarcane supply and Leticia and Roberto Diaz at La Casa de las Piñatas in San Diego for the local supply of piñatas.
Special thanks to our supporters and partners. ¡azúcar! could not have been created without the generous support of the following: New England Foundation For the arts, LA County Arts & Culture, National Endowment for the Arts, The Getty, The Mellon Foundation, MAP Fund, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Herb Alpert Foundation, Culver City Arts Foundation, Association of Performing Arts Professionals: Arts Forward, UCLA Center for the Art of Performance, The California Endowment and our loving community who has donated to our work over the years.
CONTRA-TIEMPO Activist Dance Theater
CONTRA-TIEMPO is a bold, multilingual Los Angeles-based dance company creating physically intense and politically astute performance work that moves audiences to imagine what is possible. They create a new physical, visual and sonic vocabulary that collages Salsa, Afro-Cuban, hip-hop, and contemporary dance with theater, text, and original music to bring dynamic multi-modal experiences to the concert stage. CONTRA-TIEMPO takes an uncompromisingly radical approach to the ways in which artists function within communities and create their work. They intentionally engage diverse audiences, cultivate dancer leaders, and center stories not traditionally heard on the concert stage, using their engagement process to inform and continuously re-fuel their creative process, and vice-versa.
Much like the communities they reach, CONTRA-TIEMPO is itself a tapestry. The company members are professional dancers, artists, immigrants, educators, activists, organizers, and movers of all types, living and working across Los Angeles and now across the country. Each company member lives, expresses, and struggles within the varied and infinitely complex political and personal landscapes that Artistic Director, Ana Maria Alvarez seeks to address through the company’s work.
To contribute and learn more about CONTRA-TIEMPO visit www.contra-tiempo.org
CONTRA-TIEMPO Administration Team:
Ana Maria Alvarez, founding artistic director
Jannet Galdamez, programming + rehearsal director
Ruby Morales, development director
Karina Sainz, managing director
Maritxell Carrero, production + tour manager
Maximiliano Urruzmendi technical director
Jasmine Stanley-Haskins, communications and social media associate
Juan "Co-eL" Rodriguez, office administrator
holly johnston, responsive body ecologist
CONTRA-TIEMPO Board of Directors:
Dawn Comer Sarah Culberson Tanya Finks Jonathan Lowe Casondra Ruga Vivian Rodriguez Francisca Sanchez Kat Yalung
For booking information, contact Lotus Arts Management, Sophie Myrtil-McCourty, president, at 125-28 Queens Boulevard, Suite 346, Kew Gardens, NY 11415.
Edgar Aguirre (he/him) is originally from Guatemala City, Guatemala and grew up most of his life in Redwood City, California. He graduated from the University of California, Irvine in 2019 with a BFA in Dance Performance. Edgar is most proud of having danced in Donald McKayle's Étude Ensemble (2016 - 2018). Edgar was awarded the Donald McKayle Scholarship in 2019. Upon graduation, Edgar danced with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble in Denver, Colorado (2019 - 2021). He toured nationally and internationally, was a restaging assistant for Donald McKayle’s Crossing The Rubicon, Passing The Point of No Return and choreographed two original works for the company. Edgar is now based in California where he has been working as a freelance dance artist and choreographer between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Edgar is currently a guest artist with Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company, Robert Moses’ Kin, Heidi Duckler Dance, Contra-Tiempo Activist Dance Theater and David Herrera Performance Company. In addition, Edgar has presented his choreography at various festivals and showcases in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Denver, CO and Orlando, Fl. As a Guatemalan born, Latin American dancer and choreographer, Edgar feels a cultural responsibility and desire to highlight the voices and experiences of the Latine community; furthermore, uplift the voices of the BIPOC community. In conjunction with his dance career, Edgar has also embarked on the field of body work. Edgar is passionate about fitness and wellness and is certified to provide one-on-one assisted stretching and is also a certified Pilates instructor. He enjoys working with clients and providing them with the support that they need in order to improve their bodies and achieve their goals.
Ana Maria Alvarez
Ana María Alvarez, a 2020 Doris Duke Artist and an inaugural Dance/USA Artist Fellow, is a prolific choreographer, skilled dancer, masterful teaching artist, and movement activist who has achieved multiple accolades for her dynamic works. Her thesis work explored the abstraction of Latine dance, specifically Salsa, as a way to express social resistance as related to the U.S. immigration battle. This work became the impetus for founding CONTRA-TIEMPO Activist Dance Theater in 2005 in Los Angeles. Her most recent work with the company, ¡Azúcar! was commissioned by NC State Live in Raleigh. Alvarez and CONTRA-TIEMPO have continued to tour “joyUS justUS” (2017). This signature work is a radical celebration of humanity and the feminine, centering joy as a more loving and just future is imagined. Her work has been presented in theaters across the country and the world, including in Germany, Bulgaria, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile and El Salvador. She was selected as the 2018 BiNational Artist in Residence, connecting communities in the Sonoran Desert, Phoenix (U.S.), Douglas (U.S.), Tucson (U.S.), and Agua Prieta (M.X.), through leading artistic workshops, collaborative performances, and public talks, and concluding with a performance at the U.S.-Mexico border. Alvarez and CONTRA-TIEMPO were also invited to represent the best of American Contemporary Dance Abroad through The Obama Administration’s U.S. Department of State cultural exchange program, produced by BAM, DanceMotionUSA. In the Fall of 2022, Alvarez was invited to join the UC San Diego Theatre and Dance Department as a tenured faculty member. In this exciting new chapter of her career, Alvarez, in collaboration with her colleagues and students, is imagining and designing a new future for embodied performance and practice at UCSD.
Alvarez has been recognized with a number of awards and grants including NEFA’s National Dance Project, the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, LA City Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles County and the California Arts Council among others. She is the recipient of the Mujeres Destacadas award from LA Opinion and a Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival Rainbow Award for her work with CONTRA-TIEMPO called “Agua Furiosa.” She received a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Politics from Oberlin College and a Master of Fine Arts in Choreography from UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures. Alvarez lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.
Maritxell Carrero is an actress, producer, interdisciplinary artist and facilitator. From a very young age her love for her native Puerto Rico, music, family, art, healing and social justice have been her compass. She holds an MFA from University of California- San Diego and a BFA from Florida International University. She is Co-Founder of Carrero Creatives where she has collaborated as producer and cultural consultant for several artistic projects including the 2023 Grammy Awards Bad Bunny opening number, where she also performed as a dancer. Her dynamic vision for creating spaces where art can thrive has led her to combine her passion for performance to that of producing. She is producer of Calle de la Resistencia, a musical film shot during the pandemic. The film was nominated for Best Puerto Rican Film in 2022 and is available now on Amazon Prime.
She is founder of Taller Kurubina, a space to share her love for her Afro- Puerto Rican musical ancestry, dance and cultural events in Los Angeles . As an actress, she was recently part of the cast of 'Seven,' a play commissioned by female rights organization Vital Voices, and brought to the stage on a national level by L.A. Theatre Works. She was the lead actress in Peter Sellars' opera, 'The Indian Queen,' recipient of five 2015 Golden Mask Awards, which she notably performed at the English National Opera, Teatro Real in Madrid, and Moscow's Bolshoi Theater. She is the writer/producer of 'A Revolutionary Mystic,' a biographical one-woman show retracing the life of famed Puerto Rican activist Lolita Lebrón. She has made it a point to pair her career in the entertainment industry with educational endeavors for various organizations such as Theater of Hearts in Los Angeles, East LA Classic Theater, Libérate Language Justice, Urban Peace Institute, and Acting Conservatory at the Puerto Rican Athenaeum. Maritxell is thrilled to serve as Production & Tour Manager and use her experience in support of CONTRA-TIEMPO'S vision.
Rashaan Carter grew up in the Washington, D.C. area. Through the nurturing of his father, a saxophonist, and his mother, a jazz radio programmer, Carter forged an interest in music. After stints with various instruments, the bass became the voice for his musical expression. He worked and gained experience in Washington’s local music scene, and after high school, moved to New York City to attend The New School University. At the New School, he studied with Buster Williams and began to work with many of the university’s faculty, including Joe Chambers and Jimmy Owens. Since moving to New York, Carter has worked with Wallace Roney, David Murray, Henry Threadgill, Ravi Coltrane, Geri Allen, Nicole Mitchell, Benny Golson, Curtis Fuller, Louis Hayes, Marc Cary, Cindy Blackman, Doug and Jean Carn, Antoine Roney, Sonny Simmons and more. He has also studied with Ron Carter. Rashaan regularly performs with a myriad of artists around the world and can be found on various recordings as well.
Jose Jose Arrieta Cuesta
Jose Jose Arrieta (he/him) was born in Cartagena, Colombia. Growing up he always had a strong, passionate and natural inclination for dance. As a child he participated in several school presentations helping him connect with TV recruiters that later on created opportunities for work in film and television. He had the opportunity to perform and collaborate with great directors, actors and production staff. Arrieta has trained under the wings of some well known and experienced artists, dancers and choreographers such as Nemecio Berrio, Michael Lomeka, Brett Garfinkel, Jared Duster, Crystal Lewis and Kirstin Riehl. Jose’s performance quality is beautiful and authentic, the intention of how he moves is beautiful to watch; his adaptability and range of skills will contribute and fix every production goal.
Jannet Galdamez (she/her/ella) is a dance artist born, raised, and based in South East Los Angeles, CA. Her love for dance and music began at a very young age through social, street, family settings. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance and minor in Education from the University of California Irvine June of 2012 training intensively in jazz, improvisation, modern and ballet. She has been studying Salsa and Afro-Cuban dance, music, and culture for over a decade and a half and she continues to dive deep in her studies of various dance forms inside the Latin and African Diaspora along with a consistent drumming, song and vocal practice.
Jannet has danced with Paula Abdul, Spanish Rock Band Mana, Prince Royce, Keaira LaShea's Dance Fitness Series, Maite Perroni, El Dasa, Luis Coronel, Chiquis Rivera, Ozomatli, La Sonora Santanera from Mexico City, Los Angeles based Cuban Roots Band Changui Majadero, Quitapenas, Chicano Band Las Cafeteras, and the 2017 ON YOUR FEET Broadway Musical Promo Cast. She also volunteered and worked closely as a teaching artist and behind the scenes with The Floor Improv Night and The Open Floor Society, a 501 (c) non profit organization connecting the youth with a community of professional artists, engaging in multi-cultural dance and music, using improvisation to build confidence and self empowerment.
Jannet is CONTRA-TIEMPO’s rehearsal director and director of programming. She is also simultaneously dancing with Kimbambula Cuban Dance and Music Ensemble directed by Kati Hernandez, touring with Spanish Guitarist Roni Benise’s Emmy Award Winning World Music and Dance Spectacular, and is a Teacher in Training with Embodiology, a methodology developed by Dr. S. Ama Wray that originates from ancestral West African principles of human communication and performance practices where movement, language, and music combine.
Jannet continues to blossom in her versatility as a dance artist, always grounded with the beat of the drum, and with deep gratitude and respect for her teachers, mentors, and elders. She is passionate about her journey - a journey guided by love, balance, connection, gratitude and rooted in celebrating and uplifting cultural and ancestral roots, community-building, personal growth and self-discovery through dance.
Maria I. Garcia (she/her) is a BFA graduate from the University of Florida. She began her dance training with Michelle Grant-Murray at Miami-Dade College. Maria’s undergrad consisted of being the Fall of 2019 choreographer in residence at the HARN Museum, being a teacher assistant for Afro-Brazilian classes, and assisting with the yearly African show Agbedidi. Aside from her undergrad dance classes, Maria was the assistant director for the Zafire Ladies salsa team. Now a Los Angeles-based artist she is an apprentice with Contra-Tiempo Activist Dance theater and a guest teacher at Valley College teaching Latin Social and Salsa Dance. Maria is a Latina creator, performer, and educator that seeks to bring communities together through movement, visual arts, and live music. She works within a space that is driven by her Latine roots and the cultural, spiritual, and emotional ties in the world around us. Her main goal is to supply access to the arts for underserved communities, sharing the joy of movement creativity, and community.
A native of Cuba, Kati Hernández grew up surrounded by the sounds of the drum and Afro-Cuban dance traditions. Her dance studies included Afro-Cuban and international folklore, popular, modern, ballet, choreography, composition, and staging. These shaped her into the electrifying choreographer, educator, and dancer of today. Her knowledge of dance and choreography reveals her intricate and versatile style, making her a highly sought-after performer nationally and internationally. She launched her international career at an early age, touring throughout Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas with renowned Cuban productions, musicians, and visual artists.
In her hometown of Los Angeles, Kati is a central figure in a large dance community. She was recently presented with a Community Leader of Excellence 2023 award honoring her artistry, work, and leadership. She is dedicated to spreading the treasures of her Afro-Cuban roots in the US. Her nationally acclaimed signature program Oricha Dance Therapy, which she is currently touring with, is a language of expression through movements and rhythms of the rich Afro-Cuban Dance diaspora. Hernández is founder of a pioneering online dance, and music program that preserves and promotes Cuban culture worldwide to create vibrant cross-cultural communities. She is also founder and artistic director of Kimbambula Cuban Dance and Music Ensemble, and co-founder of Kimbambula Productions. The latter serves as a platform to promote Cuban culture in LA where she produces annual events such as “Essence of Cuba” a paramount reunion of Afro-Cuban masters, Kati’s Cuban Ganga, and The Cuban Social.
Kati has led successful Afro-Cuban “Jam Sessions” at both Grand Park and the Ford Theater, where she served as lead choreographer for several of their programs and has also co-hosted dance workshops with the acclaimed Afro-Cuban rock band, Síntesis. More recently, Kati was artistic director for the joint production “Cuba Antes y Ahora,” at Grand Park and the Getty Museum, as well as the choreographer and cultural advisor of “Tentacion” a new production at the Walt Disney Concert Hall for LA Philharmonic’s Pan-American Youth Initiative. She has choreographed and performed in music videos including “Un Poquito de Amor Every Day” with world renowned Colin Hay and San Miguel Perez, and Iris Sandra Cepeda’s “Vete Por Donde Vinistes.”
She was featured in Spotify’s Latinx Heritage Month 2021 campaign “Aquí Siempre - Retratos de una comunidad en movimiento” spotlighted in Times Square, and is currently part of the American Heart Association’s worldwide P.S.A. “Get Down with your Blood Pressure” featured in the NY Times, national American and Spanish tv, and multiple print ad campaigns. She just finished shooting as one of the actors for short film “72” which centers around a search to belong, and the ways in which immigrants find sanctuary in community, breaking away from the pervasive limited narratives about Cubans, Latinx folks, and immigrants in general.
Kati also flows between public and academic venues, teaching dance classes, intensives and lectures at colleges, dance studios, and congresses around the country. She has worked with dance and music departments like CalArts, UC Irvine, University of Oregon, Pomona College, and is a yearly guest instructor at the top Cuban dance festivals in the nation. Kati’s work is a true illustration of her heritage and an endless celebration of Cuban Culture.
holly johnston (she/her) is a Human Performance Systems and Production Ecologist for CONTRA-TIEMPO and the Envisioning Director of Responsive Body- a social movement and body liberation practice. More information on her work as a human systems ecologist can be found at www.responsivebody.com. holly is an artist, creative and critical thinker, galvanizer and dedicates her time to the work of enhancing resources for human beings creating conditions for wellness, equity, prosperity, and artistic excellence. She is a choreographer, dance artist, teacher, and trauma-informed somatic specialist. She was the artistic director for LEDGES AND BONES. She has been faculty and guest artist in residence for universities and colleges throughout the United States. holly’s work with human beings and organizations is simultaneously therapeutic and organizational, it is joyful pleasure but also critical thinking, it is healing and asks for the rigor that transforms passion into social change. holly is a relentless generator of creative energies who loves the beautiful chaos of being alive.
Alék G. Lopéz
Alék Gabríela Lopéz (they/them) was born in Lancaster, California and was raised in Tijuana, Mexico.They received their BFA in Dance at California Institute of the Arts (2016) and attended the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company International Dance Journey (2017). When they returned to the states, they started dancing for multiple dance companies in Los Angeles including B.Dunn Movement, Kybele Dance Company, and Pasadena Dance Theatre. They are also a part of a dance company in New Orleans named FLOCK. Alék attended the CONTRA-TIEMPO Futuro Summer Intensive in 2019 and began working with CONTRA-TIEMPO shortly after.
Anaïs Maviel's work as a vocalist and composer focuses on the function of art to address Relation. With sound, she intends to lay common grounds for utopian futures. Connecting intimacy and subconscious narratives with collective and large-scale principles, Anaïs navigates song, choral, instrumental music and staging with a strong connection to cosmologies of sound and speech rooted in oral traditions such as mantra and ring shout.
Ruby Morales (she/her) is committed to equity, facilitating life-affirming spaces, and cultivating community relationships rooted in reciprocity, trust, and love through life and her artmaking. She is a dance artivist investigating culturally informed teaching methods, circular leadership models, and her relationship with movement as a bgirl and Mexican style cumbia. After receiving a BFA from Arizona State University she completed Urban Bush Women's Summer Leadership Institute, The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond's Undoing Racism Training, and is continuously training in breaking and learning about hip hop philosophy/theory. She is currently touring with internationally renowned creative Liz Lerman performing her most recent work Wicked Bodies, CONTRA-TIEMPO Activist Dance Theater, and Tucson, AZ based choreographer Yvonne Montoya. She creates work locally in Arizona and recently presented and toured her own evening length show, Breaking Pachanga as part of her Arts in the Park partnership with the City of Tempe. She is CONTRA-TIEMPO’s Director of Development and co-founder of The Pachanga Collective in Arizona. Ruby Morales is always continuing to learn and lead as a 2021 National Association of Latino Arts and Culture Advocacy Leadership Fellow, a 2021 Intercultural Leadership Institute Fellow, and 2023 Critical Response Process Certification Program participant. Locally, she has been awarded a Research and Development Grant and Professional Development Grant from the AZ Commission on the Arts, The Artist Forward Fund from Artlink, a Phoenix Project Support Grant, and a Phoenix Stabilization Grant.
Meena Murugesan (they/them) is a Bessie Award winning video artist and movement artist living on Tongva-Kizh land. Meena creates experimental non-linear narratives at the intersection of live performance, video art installation, and social issues. Grappling with the practices of improvisation, somatic bodywork, dominant caste bharatanatyam, collage, projection mapping, and contemplative documentary, Meena centers an anti-racist, anti-caste, feminist, queer, melanin-rich creative liberatory practice. They are directing a multimedia series entitled Dravidian Futurities about African-Dravidian connections, casteism, colorism, and trance/possession movement rituals. Meena is a current founding member of two collectives: SAEDA (South Asian Experimental Dance Artists, Mellon awardee 2021-2022) and SiriusShapeShifters (with d. Sabela grimes). Meena's dance, video art, or collaborative video projection design work has been presented at Getty Museum, Getty Villa, Underground Museum, Broad Museum, MOCA LA, The Ford Amphitheater, Pieter, LACE, UCLA, ODC, YBCA, Dance Mission, Abrons Arts Center, Gibney, NYLA, 651 Arts, EMPAC, Jacob's Pillow, SOPHIENSALE, Pearlstein Gallery, Black Star Film Festival, ICA Philadelphia, Opera Omaha, Tangente, MAI, Le Gesu, Monument National.
Emily Orling (she/her) is a visual artist, designer and poet working with paint, clay sculpture, fabric and installation. Since becoming a mother Emily has worked with textiles and ceramics to build art objects and garments that live and function in performance and alongside children. Emily's work on the musical FUTURITY earned her Lortel and Drama Desk nominations for Set Design. Set and Costume Design: FUTURITY (Soho Rep/Ars Nova; A.R.T.; Walker Art Center; MASS MoCA) Set Design: Joy(us) Just(us) for Contra-Tiempo (Jacob's Pillow, National and International Touring) NOISE (NYU. Upcoming: Hopkins Center for the Arts) Costume Design: The Universe is a Small Hat (Babycastles, Sarah Lawrence College, Princeton University); Full Still Hungry for Contra-Tiempo (Dance Motion USA, National and International Touring). Emily is the co-book writer and contributing lyricist on The Elementary Spacetime Show (NYSAF, NYU, UArts, Polyphone, Philly Fringe, EST/Sloan Commission, developed at Ars Nova). Solo Exhibitions: Lo River Arts Gallery, 473 Broadway Gallery, Dactyl Gallery. Group Exhibitions: 95 1/2 Main (Nyack, NY), Cal State Fullerton, Corridor Gallery.
Halei Parker is a visual storyteller, graduate of UC San Diego’s top ranked MFA Theatre program, and Union Costume Designer with the Costume Designer's Guild 892 and USA Local 829.
As a collaborative artist Halei has had the privilege of working with many theatre companies across the country and is always looking for more adventures and collaborators. Now based in Los Angeles, Halei is a member of Chalk Repertory Theatre’s Artistic Circle, a Company Member at Rogue Machine Theatre, the Resident Costume Designer for the Troubadour Theatre for several years, and a member of the adjunct faculty at Cal State Los Angeles' Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance.
In 2016 Halei was nominated for an LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award for her costume designs for The Hairy Ape for the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble and was again nominated in 2018 for her work on How The Princh Stole Christmas with the Troubadour Theatre Company. In 2020, Halei was a recipient of the Gratitude and Tonic grant from The Princess Grace Foundation US for her work sewing masks and making art to uplift her community. In 2022, she was honored with a nomination for a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle award for her costume design of Lizastrata at the Getty Villa.
In addition to theatrical costume designs Halei also designs costumes for film, TV, commercials, dance, opera, circus, and immersive experiences.
Her artistic skills are not limited to costume design but also extend to chalk art, digital and analog collage, photo-realistic portraiture, theatrical photography, leather work, and metal-smithing.
Daniel Penilla (he/him/el) is driven to find ways of bringing joy, love, healing, and liberation to our communities. Daniel moves through spaces as a creative, an actor, a coach, producer, facilitator, enthusiast of community collaborations, and a lover of stories.
As an actor, he was most recently in the award winning short film, La Serenata, by Ernesto Martinez and produced by Adelina Anthony and AdeRisa Productions, currently playing on HBO. He played “Bernardo” in The Play You Want by Bernardo Cubría, produced by The Road Theatre Company.
Daniel was Associate Artistic Director and an Ensemble member with Cornerstone Theater Company. Along with directing, he led projects that were part of the Creative Seeds programming: events that bring together artists, activists, thought leaders, and community members. He was the Assistant Director for Cornerstone’s California: The Tempest, a yearlong tour across California, and the Associate Director on Cornerstone’s production Urban Rez, an immersive experience with Native and Indigenous peoples of Los Angeles.
Daniel most recently produced the experiential event Rio Reveals and Rio Records with 13Exp. Bringing together over 60 leading artists from across entertainment in partnership with the nonprofit organization, River LA.
He trained at Circle In The Square Theatre School in NYC and was a member of the LAByrinth Theater Company’s first Intensive Ensemble and is a member of the artEquity 2016 cohort. Daniel completed the Coaching for Healing Justice and Liberation’s, Liberatory Coaching Certification Program. He is the founder of (presente) coaching and working as a Liberatory Coach.
His work is fueled by the current state of our every day and he believes that sharing our stories is essential in our movement toward healing and social justice. He is constantly in search of ways to create space where creativity can be expressed and shared with joy and gratitude- especially with BIPOC, othered, and marginalized peoples and communities.
David Israel Reynoso
David Israel Reynoso is an internationally renowned scenic, costume, and exhibit designer, as well as the Obie Award–winning costume designer of Punchdrunk's Sleep No More and The Burnt City. His celebrated theatrical designs have been featured at The Finnish National Ballet, La Jolla Playhouse, The Old Globe, American Conservatory Theater, Portland Center Stage, American Repertory Theater, Arena Stage, Berkeley Rep, Seattle Repertory Theater, Signature Theatre, Roundabout Stage, among others. He is the founder of OPTIKA MODERNA and the creator of Teatro Piñata, Portaleza, Las Quinceañeras, and Waking La Llorona. His work includes designing for Meow Wolf, and Museum of Us, and The New Children's Museum, and globally recognized theme parks.
Felicia “Onyi” Richards
Felicia “Onyi” Richards is a multi-disciplinary creative, multi-modality healer, priestess and teacher dedicated to guiding people through their journey of awareness, healing and transformation through her brand ONYI LOVE. In 2022 she officially launched HEAL the HEALERS, an initiative with a mission of supporting those who serve, lead, create for and inspire the collective through profession and industry specific conversations, advocacy, and group healing experiences. Onyi is a practitioner of Ifa, the ancestral philosophical and spiritual system of the Yoruba people of West Africa. Within this tradition, she is initiated into the priestesshood of Ọṣun and Ọbatala and named Ọṣuntayọ Ọbatolu Ifafunkẹ. She is a member of the LA-based Ifa community Ile Orunmila Afedefeyo, led by Awo Falokun Faṣegun and Iya Fayomi Ọṣundoyin Egbeyemi. Onyi honors and enjoys learning about the spectrum of ways through which we navigate and understand our connections to the divine, Earth, ourselves, and each other.
IG handle: @onyi.love
(direct link: https://www.instagram.com/onyi.love/)
Juan “Co-eL” Rodriguez
Juan "Co-eL” Rodriguez is a Hip Hop Dance and Performance Artist originally from Phoenix, Arizona. He began his artist venture training and engaging with the Hip hop community at an early age, his primary form being breaking. He later attended Arizona State University where he became interested in a variety of artistic practices including studying and expanding upon his Street Dance knowledge which included House, Locking, Breaking among other Hip Hop and adjacent based techniques. He also studied postmodern contemporary dance and a variety of improvisation based forms including contact improvisation, battling, cyphers and other structure based work. His interests revolve around hip hop research, performance and performance studies, education, history, improvisation, battling, ethnography and choreography.
Co-eL currently lives in Los Angeles where he runs operations for CONTRA-TIEMPO and dances as a company member for DIAVOLO Architecture in Motion. Co-eL’s current engagements include teaching, performing, choreographing, administering and designing for various local and touring companies and projects. Notable production partnerships include Lighting and Production Management for Jumatatu M. Poe’s “Let ‘im Move You” series, Passionfruit Dance Company’s “Dance Within your Dance” and J. Bouey’s “Chiron in Leo”. He has also worked as an educator for several institutions including Dance For a Variable Population, Mark Morris Dance Group and Dancewave as well as holding residencies at several universities and institutions.
Karina Zaidé Sainz
Karina Zaidé Sainz is making her way back to California after four years at the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College as Associate Producer. There she focused on curating student produced events, while maintaining relationships with visiting artists and campus partners. Karina is a 2006 graduate from University of California, Santa Cruz where her event career began as an undergraduate. Her 15+ year experience in Event Production includes various outdoor festivals and events throughout California, most notably Golden Gate Park's Outside Lands, Power to the Peaceful, and Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival. After the recession her career evolved to Tour Management, touring with Los Angeles legends, Ozomatli and Nickelodeon's Yo Gabba Gabba Live! Karina is very excited to bring her expertise and network to the Contra-Tiempo family.
Stanley (she) started taking dance classes when she was 5 years old in Annapolis, MD. Through the years, she attended different dance studios allowing dance to grow into her passion, especially after her family moved to Wake Forest, NC. There she explored multiple ways to move her body in ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, and modern classes. In college, she grew into her own identity as a mover and as a choreographer, ultimately earning a B.A. in dance from Columbia College in Columbia, SC. She first experienced dance as social action in 2013 when she was given the opportunity to dance with Vincent Thomas and his restaging of “Take Off…” an excerpt of a larger work titled “Occupy”. She was so moved by the power that movement can have over audiences. After attending summer programs outside of her hometown, she was exposed to even more styles including West African, Dunham, Rumba, Horton, Graham, and salsa. She was selected by Debbie Allen to perform with Stevie Wonder live at the Special Olympics World Games in 2015. Since moving to Los Angeles, Stanley has worked with many choreographers including Reegan Haynes, Joe Brown, Tai White, and Darrel “Friidom” Dunn. She has danced with artists such as Tye Tribett, Kanye West, and Shaunte Usual.
In addition to dancing, Stanley worked as a full-time biochemist. She is currently attending the University of Southern California to receive her Doctorate of Physical Therapy.
When Stanley first learned about CONTRA-TIEMPO in school, she became curious about their mission and movement. After moving to Los Angeles in the Summer of 2017, she attended the CONTRA-TIEMPO Futuro Summer Dance Program where she saw her own personal values and mission align, and in September of 2018 Stanley was asked to join CONTRA-TIEMPO as a company member. Stanley also manages CONTRA-TIEMPO’s marketing and social media.
This is Steve Tolin’s maiden voyage with CONTRA-TIEMPO. Steve is the owner/operator of Tolin FX, an award winning Special Effects and Specialized Design & Fabrication studio serving the film, television, and theatre industries for over twenty years. Some of Steve's most notable film and television credits include work on Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, Jack Reacher, Warrior, Adventureland, Outsiders, and the Netflix hit Mindhunter. He also produced the feature film It Came from Yesterday, for which he and his team created the creature effects and Production Design.
On stage Steve's work has been seen locally and internationally. He has worked with many of Pittsburgh’s theaters, including Bricolage, City Theatre, The Pittsburgh Public, PICT, Kinetic Theatre, The REP, and Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company. Some notable theatre credits include the world premiere of Stephen King and John Mellencamp's Ghost Brothers of Darkland County (Alliance Theatre, Atlanta), Sweeney Todd (Opera Theatre of St. Louis), and Tug of War: Civil Strife (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.) Steve has become the go-to effects artist for more than fifteen productions of Martin McDonaugh's The Lt. of Inishmore, winning a Joseph Jefferson Award for work on Northlight Theatre's Chicago production in 2009.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia to Uruguayan immigrants, Maximiliano is a community trained multidisciplinary actor, teacher, technical director, lighting designer and college dropout living in the Bay Area. They fell in love with theater at a young age as a way to find allies. Maximiliano feels incredibly fortunate to conspire within artistic communities that prioritize engagement work centering listening, learning, healing and reflecting creatively to offer transformative art. Maximiliano has had the privilege of working in varying artistic capacities with: First Peoples Fund - We The Peoples Before (LD), Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s Peh/LO/tah(TD), Teada Production’s Masters of the Currents(TD/LD), Axis Dance Company (TD), Joanna Haigood’s Dying While Black & Brown (TD), Campo Santo/Ben Fisher’s Candlestick(LD), Paul Flores’ We Have Iré(LD), Be Steadwell’s A Letter to my Ex(LD), Noelle Viñas’ Abuelito(Father y Abuelito), Contra-Tiempo’s Joy(Us) Just(Us) (TD/SM), Campo Santo/Star Finch’s Side Effects (LD), Kristina Wong’s Sweatshop Overlord (Broadcasting/SM).
It is an immense pleasure to be a part of the ¡azúcar! creative team.
set and prop fabrication/design
Peter Volk (he/him) creates set designs that shift static scenery into dynamically modular spaces and surfaces. He has worked with TONGUE Contemporary Dance, LEDGES AND BONES, Chadwick School Dance Program, and most recently with CONTRA-TIEMPO as a set designer and fabricator for ¡azúcar!. Peter is a collaborative artist and self-taught musician playing a wide range of instruments and can be found playing bass and singing with local bands in Los Angeles. He lives in Long Beach, CA with his family and works as a master carpenter, musician, and custom construction specialist.
Bobby Wilmore has been performing and teaching music since grade school. Since he moved to Los Angeles to study at USC, Bobby has become a prominent drummer in the Afro-Cuban scene. He works regularly with legendary singer/drummer Lazaro Galarraga creating shows, recordings and educational material. He enjoys playing all styles of music and has had the honor of recording with many greats such as Herbie Hancock and Justin Timberlake. Currently Bobby is most often found playing with his Cuban group SitaraSon or spreading his love for music teaching classes at schools and universities.
Tuce Yasak graduated from the Department of Industrial Design at Middle East Technical University in Turkey in 2004 and has been following light in NYC since 2008, creating over 100 site-specific light installations for performance in the US and abroad. Yasak received the 2018 BESSIE (...Memoirs of a... Unicorn by Marjani Forte-Saunders at Collapsable Hole and NYLA) and 2019 BESSIE (Oba Qween Baba King Baba by Ni'Ja Whitson at Danspace) for Outstanding Visual Design with her lighting design.She has ongoing collaborations with Raja Feather Kelly / the Feath3r, Ana Maria Alvarez / Contra Tiempo, Ni’Ja Whitson, Nia Witherspoon, Justin Hicks. Among her recent collaborations Hysteria by Raja Feather Kelly at New york Live Arts, The Bridge Called My Ass by Miguel Gutierrez (The Chocolate Factory/NY, Montpellier Dance Festival/France, The Walker Center/Minneapolis, PICA/Portland) Skinfolk: An American Show written by Jillian Walker/ directed by Mei Ann Teo (The Bushwick Starr, NYC), We're Gonna Die written by Young Jean Lee, directed by Raja Feather Kelly (2nd Stage Theater/NYC) -all three have recently been reviewed on New York Times-, M---ER by Autumn Knight (On The Boards), JoyUS JustUS by Contra Tiempo (national tour), Patch the Sky with 5 Color Stonesby Daria Fain at the Chocolate Factory among many others. Light, movement and architecture intertwine in Yasak's work to support space-making and story-telling.