The acclaimed Urban Latin Dance Theater company brings a joyous, radically-rousing evening of dance and community to Long Beach’s Carpenter Performing Arts Center.
The immersive experience begins even before entering the theater when audience members are asked to repeat the affirmation “You and I become us.” The mantra prevents the formation of the barrier that typically separates artist and audience while underscoring that CONTRA-TIEMPO’s vibrant new production, “joyUS justUS,” is a collaborative exchange mixing cultures, dance, theater, music, justice, family and community. The Urban Latin Dance Theater company will perform the new show for the first time at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach on Saturday, November 10 at 8pm with live music by Las Cafeteras, an East Los Angeles collective that, much like CONTRA-TIEMPO’s multilingual dance productions, is lauded for infusing rich culture into their musical art.
CONTRA-TIEMPO world premiered “joyUS justUS” last month at USC’s Bovard Auditorium, beginning a two-year run they anticipate visiting at least twenty US cities, including Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County on November 16 and 17. While the show includes passages of recorded music from Las Cafeteras, the Long Beach date is the debut and only performance presently scheduled featuring the band playing live although other live collaborations will take place over the next few years.
“It will be an incredible evening of art and community – like nothing else we’ve experienced. Having Las Cafeteras there live will be a dream. Having their music come alive on stage and then having them play for the post-performance get-down will be brilliant. The band’s music and mission, and their reframing of narratives and reimagining a ‘new futuro’ for us all is a true reflection of our work. We are the embodiment of their vision and they are the vibration of ours,” said CONTRA-TIEMPO’s artistic director Ana Maria Alvarez who conceived and directed “joyUS justUS.”
With joy and love at its essence amidst defiant calls for social justice, “joyUS justUS” tells the stories of the dancers, collaborators and communities of color from South Los Angeles. They shared their personal experiences during workshops and council sessions, each one adding depth and meaning to the show’s elaborate tapestry. Through expressive dance, impassioned spoken word, and enveloping layers of transcendent rhythms, beats and sounds, “joyUS justUS” joyfully celebrates community and connection. The work inspires resistance in response to bitter hardships, oppression and injustice. It empowers people of color who are traditionally perceived as mistreated, victimized and underserved, pleading its case for equal treatment under the law, including at our nation’s borders. “joyUS justUS” instills a sense of wonder, thanksgiving and reciprocity with Mother Nature; welcomes the birth of an adopted child into a loving home; acknowledges the power and ferocity of the “mama”; fosters healing; bolsters hope; comforts through faith; and strengthens collectively through shared truths and struggles.
Audacious, aggressive, athletic and astute, CONTRA-TIEMPO uses physically intense movement, striking visuals and textured sonicscapes to communicate and inform. Adeptly they craft uncompromising amalgams of Salsa, Afro-Cuban, hip-hop, and modern dance that make riveting and engaging theater. It’s diverse membership of professional dancers, artists and immigrants come from the communities they embody on stage, serving as educators, activists, organizers and leaders. Through profound work in the community, the company gives voice to stories seldom heard on stage. For more information, please visit http://www.contra-tiempo.org.