A Letter from UTEP

We were delighted to receive this letter in regards to our residency at the University of Texas El Paso.
We wanted to share with you;

Our program wants to thanks Latina Dance Theater Project for the residency, LOCA (Latinos Over the Top Collaborative Arts) in our campus November 8th and 9th , 2013. We were excited to share with our community the performance of the interdisciplinary piece Slumber of Reason. We also want to express our deepest gratitude for giving feedback to our seniors in their creative work. Your residency made a positive impact on our students.

Below we want to share what some of our students wrote:

“I cannot describe how amazing my experience was learning from the members of the Latina Dance Theater Project. The exercises we performed using other instruments that we have such as our voice and personality was something very new to me. Although, I was uncomfortable using my voice at first, I had an open mind and let go. This workshop showed me that all art forms are interrelated and give a dancer an advantage when they are a multifaceted. I learned to be myself and that interaction with others is a liberating experience. I would sincerely enjoy another workshop from the LDTP to further my education in dance, singing and theatre. I truly felt like my own person during this whole experience and I cannot thank the members enough for that.”
Gabriela Moreno, sophomore BFA

“Attending the LDTP was an eye opening experience as I was encouraged to move beyond physicality within my improvisation techniques and explore larger, and at the same time subtle, ranges. I loved how the workshop pushed me to focus and incorporate my vocal cords, use and draw concepts from props, and improvise language! 
The workshop was definitely an enlightening challenge and I would love to participate in it again. The overall experience was exciting and absolutely fun with the infectious energy of the highly creative and versatile mentors of The Latina Dance Theater Project.” Maximillion Canion, senior BFA.

“Participating in Latina Dance Theatre Project’s workshop and watching their performance of Slumber of Reason was inspiring. I was pushed out of my comfort zone, and as a result, my mind was opened to a world of new ideas and possibilities that are available for me to explore in my future studies. I hope that I am able to work with them again soon.” Emma Butler, Senior BFA

We hope to host the company again in the near future and we are looking forward to develop the work that you have initiated with our students.

Lisa Smith, MFA Head of Dance program 
Fox Fine Arts Center

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BlakTina Festival

We are in full swing for the BlakTina Festival on Dec 12, 13 and 14th, 2013 @ 7:30 pm at Bootleg Theater, LA!
We need your help raising funds for this exciting and important first ever festival featuring Black & Latina (o) choreographers!
Please check out our Indiegogo campaign and make any amount donation–Thanks in advance!
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LDTP doing LOCA at the University of Texas in El Paso

LDTP doing LOCA at the University of Texas in El Paso


November 11, 2013

 Landed in Chicago after taking an American Airlines flight from Rochester, New York; I headed straight for Frontera, the wonderful restaurant chain created by Rick Bayless, you know the dude who does the cooking show, who knows how to do serious food research of another culture he was not born in.  I have to say he has Mexican food down.  Anyway, I went to this place in the Chicago airport as a rehearsal of what was to come in El Paso.  Ordered Cochinitl con Pipil or something like that and it was a delicious blend of sandwich with pork and vinegary red onions.  Delicioso.  Consumed with a glass of Victoria cerveza; it became a cosmic experience when I tried the salsa habaneros. Whew!  My entire nasal system opened up for several moments.

 Arrived in El Paso and found Licia And Jose in baggage claim.  Andrea and JJ picked us up along with Eva and her crew.  I should have tried the enchiladas that Barbara made; she is one of Andrea’s beautiful dance students who also works as a chef; volunteered to make us great home cooking.  Her contribution truly made this a special gig.  Andrea Vazquez is an amazing Latina choreographer, who loves her students and is great at inspiring them to do their best work. Currently, she is a visiting assistant professor at the University of Texas in El Paso.  She faced the challenge of language when she studied at the College at Brockport and walked away with honors.  We did the first LOCA gig on Friday, November 8th 2013.  I began the festival by reading the manifesto I created on the plane.  Licia and Eva loved it and will post it on the website.  I have also included it at the end of this writing.

We then had students do a 45-minute warm-up led by Lulu, who did a fantastic job.  She is so funny and warm the students loved her carefree nature.  Then Jose invited students to do a vocal warm-up, which they got into; he introduced them to a vocal technique known as Farangia, which was taught during the 16th/17th century to vocalists and it preceded the use of full voice.  He uses it as a warmup for his voice so that it is not so taxing.  Following this exercise, Licia and Jose had students engage with the handshake exercise.  He did this before when we did the Dallas gig. 


One person goes out on the floor and strikes a pose that is shape oriented.  A second joins first person and finds a way to express a handshake with that person.  Then, first person breaks their original shape and continues the process of creating a handshake with their partner.  Ad infinitum it goes until it builds.  Then they extended this idea by incorporating sound/language and accelerating movement changes. 

Following this, Eva had them do the object exercise.


Put together a group of varied objects for students to choose from to spark ideas.

Choose an object as a group

Create a list of words you free-associate with that object

Do not veto or edit your thinking as you create the list

Share with group your list

Listen and create a theme from the collection of words

Make a structured improvisation based on your theme

Incorporate sound, language, music, body as design, pure action

Get observation feedback from audience (what did you see?)


Reflect on what you are trying to do, making sure you follow the parameters of the project

Seek connections by listening

Notice relationships

Allow associations to surface

Identify qualities or characteristics of objects

Make observations without vetoing

After the workshop, students wanted us to see their work, which was passionate; the ideas as well as the composition were sound and varied.  Style of dancing was very physical, one in which dancers accepted their impact on the floor.  Lots of partnering involved.  Saw four dance works in all.  Where was my camera when I needed this? Need to ask Andrea to record these works for me so I can add this material or data to my research.  They were so excited to have us view their work, I felt humbled by the experience and they were grateful.

We went through the entire show spacing and running lines.  Trying to remember when you are tired proved to be challenging.

We went to Andreas’ house afterward for a dinner of chicken in a tomato sauce with rice.  Delicious with beer, I also tried Marzipan, which is too rich for me.  But the conversation and food offered us a lovely evening.

Saturday came with our attention on the reconstruction of Slumber of Reason.  And this is after not having done it in a little over a year.  Did a run through and took a break for lunch around 1:00 pm.  With the help of the Hilton Garden Inn van, we got to Rulis, an international eatery where I had a delicious meal of chicken and pesto.  Very good! Drank a lot of water because it is so dry in El Paso.  We walked back to the hotel and held a board meeting.  I took minutes and we talked about Lulu’s work with grant writing.  She is trying to get us there again.  We wish her luck because this has been a challenging year for her; she wrote eleven grants and did not get a single one.  Then we addressed budget; UTEP will attempt to raise $4,000 to bring us back in the spring to continue working with the students there.  Talked about South Coast Repertory, a prestigious gig in California and should be hearing soon from this group.  If we get it, it will be a wonderful opportunity to share our work. 

Afterward, we went to the theater to get ready for the show.  We had a full house with folks being turned away.  Some folks would not leave and I snuck them onto the stage.  Later they were invited to sit on the side to see the video.  During the performance, a female student asked me if she could ask me questions.  I said no and she said why.  And I said, “because I am performing.”  Wow, cannot imagine what was going through her head. 

Show over.  We are a success!  The look in Andrea’s eyes said everything.  She was beaming and said, “I love it!”  Many came backstage to congratulate us.  We all felt great about the effort, especially in light of the fact we only had one full rehearsal.

We learned a lot from this experience and have lots to reflect on.  LDTP is in a position to contribute to the national dialogue concerning interdisciplinary art making.  The work we do is high caliber and it is truly unique.  We shatter the mold of what Nick (dancer in Andreas’ dance department) referred to as high entertainment.  He said there was a scholarly tone to it, meaning that a lot of thought went into it.  We have to find a way to continue this work we do and to connect to the young art maker who is in the process of evolving their aessthetic.  Also, I need to connect to NDEO and find a way to get us a performance opportunity.

Yes, this needs to happen.  AMEN!

Interdisciplinary Training involves a different approach towards the creative process


All can move, all can speak, all can listen, all can reflect, all can embody design and all can put it down on paper.  Reflection.


Be open to all possibilities!  Be receptive to the ideas of others.

Listen with your whole being.  Try not to listen to the sound of your thoughts while listening to others.  This skill comes in handy when interacting or bouncing off others during creative work and performance.  Magical moments can be missed if you are only in your head. 

Ponder over ideas before addressing them.  Do not believe everything you think.  Work to avoid driving only your agenda forward.  Remember it is about the project. 

Enjoy working as a follower and as a leader. 

Be prepared to be able to communicate your reasons as to why your idea works. 

Seek connections amongst the arts and find ways to express the same thing using different disciplines.  Make room for other ways to express besides just movement even though there is motion in everything.  For example, how could the concept of a wave be conveyed using voice, movement, character, visually through shape design, texture, with a partner?  Scenario: a beautiful wave has decided to leave its home to come and live with you.  What scenarios might surface on the basis of this idea?  What is your relationship with the wave?  What do you have to do in order to accommodate the wave? How is life disrupted because you have a wave in your living room?

How can you enhance or build off of someone else’s efforts or ideas to create a rich, descriptive moment? 

Notice the skills of others and when possible, encourage them to contribute those skills when you think they might effectively contribute to the process.  Sometimes you can see something in others they cannot see in themselves.

Think like a Holon, that is to say, work to be a complete whole within yourself but also be aware you are a part of an interactive network of parts that come together to create a larger whole.

Be patient with the idea of collective leadership.  Two steps forward, one step back.  Remember that community takes time.


Embody your ideas.  Avoid stasis.  Explore levels, spatial organization and dynamics.  Be aware of the group composition and dynamic at all times.  This requires you to think on many levels.

When is an idea a good idea?  A good idea has lots of possibilities and it is open to many different interpretations.  A good idea allows parallels to other great ideas possible.  Usually a good idea relates to what is going on now because folks can relate to it.

Collaborative. Interdisciplinary work does not have a kind of look or style. It can be truly varied.  It can emerge in many forms.

That is it for now!

Long shall we live the interdisciplinary process!


Submitted by Juanita Suarez

Latina Dance Theater Project









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BlakTina Festival Choreographers Have Been Selected!

Licia and the Latina Dance Theater Project were overwhelmed with the quality of the applications submitted to us for the first BlakTina Festival – wow – all of you are amazing in your artistic vision and we wish that we could include all of you!!!  

The 3 person panel (2 co-artistic directors from LDTP and artistic dir. of Bootleg) has finally come to a most difficult decision for our first BlakTina Festival.  

The choreographers that will represent the first BlakTina at Bootleg December 12th, 13th & 14th, 2013 are:

1.  Jasmine Burgos, Sensualidad
2.  Sofia Carreras, El Toro
3.  Hugo Diaz, Entry #2
4.  Michelle Funderburk, Trademark
5.  Dorcas Roman, Casa Tomada
6.  Cyrian Reed, Woman
7.  Joshua Romero, Aurora Borealis
8.  Eluza Santos, Markas

Personally I’m so gratified and thrilled to see such incredible work from all the applicants in the greater LA AREA!  

The BlakTina festival is on its’ way and I know that it will only grow into a staple of the LA Dance scene!

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Request for BlakTina Festival Choreographer Proposals is OPEN!!

BlakTina Festival presented by

Latina Dance Theater Project And Bootleg Theater

Due Date: October 15, 2013 (Postmark Deadline)
Festival Participants Announced: October 25th, 2013
Submit Proposals to: BlakTina Festival c/o Latina Dance Theater Project 2159 Lyric Ave. LA, CA 90027
FESTIVAL DATES: December 12th, 13th and 14th, 2013 at Bootleg Theater

The BlakTina Festival is presented by Licia Perea and the Latina Dance Theater Project (LDTP) and the Bootleg Theater in a first ever festival featuring Latina (o) and Black choreographers based in Los Angeles! This exciting new festival will feature 6 – 7 choreographers of color, including work by the Latina Dance Theater Project. LDTP is excited to be partnering with the Bootleg for the premiere of this new festival of cutting edge work.

The Latina Dance Theater Project seeks applicants from Latina (o) and Black contemporary choreographers based in Los Angeles, drawing from a full range of styles and culturally based approaches that represent contemporary Black and Latina (o) dance in the world today.
Eligibility Requirements:
• Choreographers who have produced and presented their own choreography in a non-student context.
• Applicants must be a resident of Los Angeles County, have lived in Los Angeles County for at least one year, and have produced choreographic work in Los Angeles County.
• Applicants must be 18 years of age or older
• Full-time students are not eligible
Project Description:
• Presentation – Artists are expected to present an original work no more than 12 minutes. The evening will be shared with approximately 6-7 choreographers.
Selected artists will receive the following:
• Marketing/PR will be provided by LDTP and Bootleg. The Festival will be marketed to the press, as well as in LDTP’s and Bootleg’s own publicity materials
• Tech Production support will be provided including lighting design, overall technical direction, and light and sound operators. Lighting, sound, masking, and sprung dance floor, as owned by Bootleg, will be provided. A reasonable attempt will be made to accommodate any special needs, subject to time and budget constraints.
• In house production support will be provided by LDTP and Bootleg staff.
Selection process:
The panel seeks a spectrum of dance styles and aesthetics, with particular interest in contemporary and innovative approaches. The panel will make decisions based on quality and innovation of the artist’s work and interest in the Festival.
Applicants must submit the following materials for consideration: Narrative materials (must be typed 12 point font):
1. Cover Page listing 1) the choreographers name, contact name if different, address, all phone numbers, and email address; 2) any unusual technical requirements you may have.
2. Describe the work you propose to present (title, choreographer (s), music and premier date) and describe its unique qualities and why you would like to be part of the BlakTina Festival.
3. Resume – one page
4. Work sample – Please submit your work sample on a DVD format. The work to be viewed must be at the beginning of the DVD, in a separate chapter, or the only work on the DVD. Include a work sample information sheet that indicates the title, performance dates, and your role in creating the work (no more than 1 page).

Please contact Licia Perea with any questions about these application guidelines.

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Teaching Dance Research for CENIDI by Juanita Suarez

I taught a course titled “Dance Research” in Mexico City at the Centro Nacional de Investigacion, Documentacion E Informacion De La Danza “Jose Limon” located within the National School of the Arts August 12-14, 2013. The course spanned three days and each class was three hours in length. Dancers and actors comprised the membership of the class as well as an art history major. I was escorted by two van drivers who were responsible for getting me to the center and back to the Hotel Gillow. The force of the divine was with me as a male visitor presented himself to me; he was affiliated with one of the female students. A professional translator by trade, he was born in Maine but worked in El Salvador and his name is Jesse. Generous in his offer, he volunteered to serve as the translator for the class. He spoke beautiful Spanish and was adept at translating concurrently what students were speaking about and helped the students understand the density of the material being covered. The experience was very rich and rewarding.

I focused on presenting research class material relating to their Mexican-specific heritage. One research model was based on the Aztec Moon Goddess Coyoxaulqui. I shared the story of the Moon Goddess with them, which many of them did not know. The research question posed was: “What is the one question Coyolxauhqui did not ask that would have changed the course of her story?” I also related the iconic figure of La Malinche to feminist inquiry stating how different the image of woman would be had her story been told in its entirety. I began by letting everyone know how sensitive the next topic is and how as researchers, we must be open to new information even if it contradicts everything you have come to accept as truth. And so I proceeded to tell the story of La Malinche and how it intersected with the story of La Llorona, which is a story that existed before the arrival of Cortes. How could a fourteen-year-old girl be a whore? Is it possible Malintzin (La Malinche) was brilliant, and talented as a strategist; that she was an opportunist who made the most out of the cards she was dealt? I could see the wheels of cognition spinning in the heads of many women in class. I presented the idea of history as a continuous series of excavations, which Mexico engages in heavily to recover lost artifacts, to the research process itself.

I also had a chance to reconnect to Anadel Snyder, an American, who has been living in Mexico City since she was 18 years old. I met Anadel in 1995 in Denton, Texas during a CORD (Congress on Research in Dance) Conference. Anadel works with the Zapatistas, teaching creative movement to children living in one of the five districts they control. She is excited by the work she does and her conversation over dinner as to the cultural/gender dynamics of the Zapatistas was very interesting. What she finds most amazing is how they took over five cities in Mexico with a few rifles and long sticks and the genius strategy work of Marcos, the charismatic leader of the Zapatistas. Lately, they have decided to be taught by insiders to the group and so she is one of those rare individuals who is able to work with them as an outsider.

Prior to teaching I attended dance rehearsals of two contemporary dance artists, Rocio Gutierrez and Bruno Ramri, who created work out of Fabienne Lachere’s dance studio “Escuela Frances de Ballet.” Fabienne is a dancer who arrived in Mexico City when she was twenty years old and never returned to Paris. The artists asked if they could present a current work they were developing in order to receive feedback. The process of generating the work was very different between artists but both were quick paced and decisive. Bruno spent a lot of time asking questions whereas Rocio focused mainly on the craft of shaping and timing. I noticed how contemporary dance in the city is very athletic, similar to what we see in the United States.

On the second day of my stay, I saw an evening performance, “Silencio Compacto,” that took the topic of torture and the impact of being silenced from the perspective of the psyche when it is denied light and voice. Rocio and Bruno performed in the work. Haunting imagery, the work began with a woman entering with a microphone stuffed into her mouth as she tries to communicate something to the audience. She is blindfolded and leashed like a dog, escorted in by a man in military garb. Later in the work, a beautiful folkloric dancing woman is presented but the image is dissipated as two men in military uniform begin to laugh at three women being tormented; the images were separate but relatable. There was a lot going on in the work and more than can be conveyed at this point. Prior to this concert was a tango performance in the outdoor theater. Beautiful in its execution, it was obvious this was a place where a lot of dance was being explored and developed.

In closing, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Saw lots of street performance art (superheroes, a female archangel suspended in the air); went to El Museo de Memoria y Tolerancia and saw humankind’s inhumanity to the “other.” Checked out El Museo de Popular Artes and ate great food served in the streets as well as home cooking with a family of Pita, short for Lupita, who is the mother of Andrea Vazquez. Andrea teaches at the University of Texas El Paso and is a past graduate student of mine. She stayed in communication with me during the entire stay. In closing, I would like to thank Andrea and especially Pita for their help and generous hospitality.

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I am just now starting to crawl out of the energy spent on the Dance 2050 Symposium, which was a huge success. Fifty-three scholars in dance from around the country came to Rochester to discuss the future of dance in higher education to figure out how we can better prepare for it by the year 2050. It was also historic – It is an honor to be considered one of the leaders of this movement. 


Simon Dove, an independent curator out of NYC and a past chair of the department of dance at Arizona State University opened the symposium with a review of statistics in terms of dance audience numbers and the number of dance companies closing their doors.  In 2008 we had 18.3 million people watching dance. Sounds like a lot but it only reflected 10 percent of the population in this country; with the numbers dwindling every year and accelerating in how much they are decreasing.  It was an eye opening presentation and spoke to why dance groups are not performing and touring the way we used to and not likely to for a long time.

The assembly was divided into four groups who were titled the Seekers, Dreamers, Futurists and Visionaries.  We met for two days and on the first day addressed issues of leadership and how to generate it among emergent artists in the university.  We changed the strategy for the second day and began developing action plans.

On the second day, we began by having Simon share along with his colleague Karen Schupp, the change in curriculum Arizona underwent when he served as chair.  It was like witnessing the movements of the Titanic with two curriculums taking place at the same time. The total result was revolutionary and crazy.  Very risky. We were all excited by the end of the second day and educators all took on specific tasks to attend to.


I have been invited to present the results of the symposium in October for the NDEO conference being held in Miami.  

The main points were:

1.)  The paradigm of a modern/ballet department is antiquated and needs to be revised;

2.)  We need to open our doors to urban dance forms and dances of the African diaspora;

3.)  much more community outreach is necessary for dance to survive period;

4.)  we need to listen to the public who now is taking the lead in defining what they like and do not like in terms of dance styles and popular movements (flash mobs to name only one of many);

5.) we need to develop courses online and have a say in terms of establishing the quality of dance online; 6.)  we need to develop interdisciplinary courses in our curriculum (teaching engineers how to dance to help them solve creative problems or creating courses like math dance).  


Diversity was central to all of these discussions as well as classism and racism.  We were all also aware of how difficult this will be for the traditionalists because there is a nostalgia for the past that is not serving the field; the numbers of how much dance has dwindled were revelatory.  It will be a risk to make such major changes but riskier if we do not.

My ten graduates outdid themselves and served as transcribers for the two day event and I was delighted by the kudos I received for presenting an event that was highly organized and generated a high impact.  Marielys Burgos Melendez helped me to coordinate the event; a graduate from Puerto Rico, she was amazing.  The results of this symposium and the one held last year will impact and redefine the curricular nature of the dance department for the next forty years.


We are still in the brainstorm stage because ideas are still emerging as we try to make sense of it all.  Why? We are experiencing a new dynamic that did not exist when this kind of thing took place in 1968 (technology and its speed to convert everything online, corporate influences, students not wanting to pay high tuition, employers not concerned with hiring students with degrees because it is cheaper to higher people with little credentials, governments having no money or serious delays in budget formations).

Lastly, I have been invited to teach a course in Mexico City for the National School of the Arts on practice-based dance research.  I am excited about going in early August and will share the ideas of the symposium with the artists I will be working with at the university.  This will also inform my teaching.  I am very excited and wanted to share this with you.



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