Arts & Life, Events

joyUS justUS radicalizes joy with movement and live music

A vibrant and engaging dance performance from CONTRA-TIEMPO explores issues in today’s society through diverse movements and the expression of joy.

CONTRA-TIEMPO, a dance company that combines multiple styles such as salsa, Afro-Cuban and contemporary, is collaborating with Los Angeles band Las Cafeteras to premiere its show joyUS justUS 8 p.m. on Nov. 10.

The one-night show will explore joy as a radical expression to engage audiences on issues such as dismantling colonialism, patriarchy and social hierarchy to build a more inclusive future, according to Ana Maria Alvarez, founder and artistic director of CONTRA-TIEMPO.  

“There is so much injustice, pain and disconnect in the world, to ignite joy is radical and is an act of resistance and empowerment,” Alvarez said. “To choose joy in the face of injustice, pain and disconnect takes our lives and existence outside. It is flipping the script to be tools for action.”

She drew inspiration from her experience as a woman of color and her value of diversity in society to create a show that did not have a “star” amongst the dancers. Rather, the dancers are contributors to creating the show and expressing their stories in a collective “us” seen in the title.

“The dancers really stepped into the work and showed up not only as dancers but authors of movement, material, stories and really brought themselves to the mix,” Alvarez said.

Eight LBSU dance major undergraduates and graduates will be performing alongside CONTRA-TIEMPO’s dancers on stage. Dancers include Da’Shauna Anderson, Jewell Curtis and Temria Airmet, according to an emailed cast list provided by Manny Macias Villanueva, graduate assistant in the Department of Dance who will also be in the show.

In order to generate excitement from students at Long Beach State, there will be two free sneak-peeks of the show at different locations on campus. On Monday, Nov. 5, members of CONTRA-TIEMPO will dance in front of the University Art Museum at 12:30 p.m. They will also perform on Nov. 6 in the campus bookstore plaza at 1 p.m.

For both previews, students are encouraged to have a “community dance moment” by watching or dancing along with CONTRA-TIEMPO, according to Olivia Sather, director of marketing for Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center.

The dance performance will have live accompaniment from Las Cafeteras, a seven-member band from East Los Angeles, on Saturday during the concert. The band found inspiration from Son Jarocho, a native music style that originated from Southern Veracruz. They utilize instruments such as an eight-string rhythm guitar, a donkey jawbone and Zapateado, which is an Afro-Mexican dance style that consists of rhythmic tapping movement.

Las Cafeteras also blends poetry and Afro-Mexican beats while incorporating their LA heritage of hip-hop and rap to create a unique sound, according to Héctor Flores, a vocalist for the band and a Long Beach State alumni.

“We want to celebrate in a time of hate where love and music and dance becomes a revolutionary act,” Flores said. “We tell narratives, tell stories as children of immigrants through music, song and dance.”

The band composed a song titled “Brown” for joyUS justUS that pays respects to the Earth and people of color, it will be played while two men are dancing on stage.

Following the joyUS justUS, there will be a solo set from Las Cafeteras to showcase songs separate from the dance performance. Flores describes the songs they will play as having a “tropical dance feel” with hip-hop and cumbias, an Afro-Colombian music and dance style.

Students can purchase tickets for $10 with promo code “CSULB4JOY” up until the day of the performance. For regular attendees, tickets are currently being sold for $50 online or at the Arts Ticket Office on Atherton Street with cash or credit card.

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