W-I-P is this unique place where no matter what the circumstances, its always a positive and uplifting experience. Maybe its the intimacy of the Jump-Start Theatre or the facilitated CRP (Critical Response Process) that brings everyone to a personal level, or maybe its because we have been doing this for so long (19 years ya'll) and we're experts at it.
This months season opener was another exciting occurrence. The audience was small but engaged and our three artists found important connections between their work and their personal history. This happens often when artists meet each other at the performance labs, they find commonalities to share. These inter-artists connections give artists opportunities to learn from each other as well as give encouragement to their fellow artists. Our three W-I-P artists for January 2017 were Laura Yohualtlahuiz - Ameyaltonal Tejaztlan (Aztec dance + Hip-Hop), NXG Dance Crew (Street Dance) and guest artist, Dr. Leonard Cruz (contemporary movement).
Laura Yohualtlahuiz - Ameyaltonal Tejaztlan (Laura Rios-Ramirez) performed with Rosie Torres in what was Laura's first steps into an experimental work that is still taking form in her mind. Laura was a B-girl for 20 years and was drawn to B-girling because it gave her a sense that she was "making math with her body". When she came upon Aztec dance, it was a perfect match for her since the dances are mathematical in their compositional nature.
Laura wore a large Aztec feathered headdress and performed on indigenous acoustic instruments such as a conch shell and various percussion instruments. Rosie wore simple attire that gave her the representation of a mortal being while Laura's attire signified her to the viewer as a god or force. Laura revealed to the audience that this work was to be an illustration of how the "guardians of dance" inspire us mortal humans to create expressive movement, like deified muses. She utilized ancient Aztec dances such as Ome Mazatl which means two deer dance and fused them with contemporary and hip-hop modes of movement. For the future she hopes to incorporate Tochtli which is the Rabblit dance.
The NXG Dance Crew is a group of B-boy, street dancers led by Marques Mireles that we have been trying to get into W-I-P for two years now! We are so happy that they finally were able to get on the stage and share their style with us. Marques was joined by two other dancers Kevin Brewster (Kid Raw) and Malachi (Kid Mayhem, 11 yrs old).
Each dancer brought their unique form of movement to this structured improvisation. The title of their work was "Free Your Style" and was structured as a framework for the dancer to embody their character through their dance. Each dancer had their turn to express themselves and let loose their unique energy into the space. The audience was most captivated by their intense energy and connection with each other during their performance.
The evening closed out with a special performance from Dr. Leonard Cruz. Cruz has a fluid and graceful quality of movement that is both strong/grounded and ethereal. In his performance he utilized his loosely draped sweater-shirt expressively as he dragged it over his head and face, and pressed into it as if it were a second skin, which he was shedding, and clinging to at the same time.
Cruz spoke briefly after his performance sans CRP. He spoke biographically and said that he is "empowered by my indigenous dance forms" and that these dances "give me insight about the universe." The most poignant was when he shared with us that his Father expressed to him that he would not financially support his son if he pursued an education/degree in dance. Cruz then became a presidential scholar and was able to pay for his own education. At this point Cruz began specifically speaking to the young NXG Crew member, Malachi, and encouraged him to continue his passion for dance and always remember that there is a way to succeed with perseverance and support from your community.