January/February 2020 In Dance

Rulan Tangen’s Between Underground and Skyworld / photo by Paulo T Photography

Arenas Dance Company / photo by Brooke Anderson

says, "someone is going to find you while you’re dancing in the Malecon and take you abroad." And this is how my journey to United States begins. At the time, the situa- tion between U.S. and Cuba was hard. But, it’s my job as a cultural bearer to teach and educate others about my culture. We dance more for heart than for money. Más que bai- lar en Cuba bailaremos por Cuba. Founded and directed by Susana Arenas Pedroso, Arenas Dance Company’s mission is to preserve and promote the rich and diverse Cuban folkloric and popular dance traditions. Krissy Keefer’s upcoming show, Butterfly Effec t, runs from January 26 – February 9, 2020 at Dance Mission Theater. Her lat- est work is site-specific centered on climate crisis. Since 1975, Keefer’s work explores contemporary social issues by creating, pro- ducing, presenting, and teaching feminist and multicultural dance and theater. Finding her- self in the same trajectory over the years, at the intersection of arts and politics. CJF: With the heightened awareness of the unprecedented global climate crisis we’re facing, why is Butterfly Effec t so relevant? Krissy Keefer: I came out of the 1970s, deeply aware and conscious of the environ- mental crisis. Back then, we were all about not shopping at Safeway, or at least, not taking plastic bags from Safeway. Save the Whales! Save the Planet! But, it all changed with this massive march towards consumer- ism. However, in our current environmental and political state of things, a lot of people are taking a hard stance around the world right now about the climate breakdown that is happening in their cities, towns, and coun- tries. There’s a huge global environmental movement coming out of the U.K., Extinc- tion Rebellion. In Honduras, hundreds of activists have been killed each year, trying to defend their lands and rivers, against multi- national interests.

I have never done an entire, even-length work on the complete degradation of our cli- mate until now. Butterfly Effect is all about climate change and catastrophe. With a cast of 16 performers, people are singing, drum- ming, acting and dancing. Images depict the apparent climate crisis, people in a state of despair, who feel trapped and caught up in day-to-day activities. They are so focused on Trump, they don’t even notice the bigger problem. The dances take place in different rooms. One room is about consumerism and fash- ion. Getting sucked into the beauty of a fashion show display that turns dystopian at the end. The audience will witness through visual imagery how entire towns get wiped out because of flood and fire. Remember- ing PARADISE and people trying to fight for their lives in SONOMA and SANTA ROSA. It’s time for me as an artist to participate in the best way I can to make a difference, and piggy back on grassroots movements that are trying to enact social response and social change. Dance Brigade’s Artistic Director Krissy Keefer explores the intersection between art and social issues with fierce inventiveness and a deft comic touch. We breathe life into our WORD, and it becomes reality. Like the Holy text reads, “In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God, and the WORD was God.” So let’s continue to uplift the beginning of the WOMXN SPEAK: WORD! And the oracu- lar knowledge and spirit that follows it. Visit dancemissiontheater.org for more info and if you’re interested in donating to sup- port this work. CHRISTINE JOY FERRER is a multi-disciplinary creative from San Francisco, California. A youth movement arts instructor by day and a freelance media producer and designer by night. Founder of EO MVMNT, Media & Design (eomvmnt.org). She dances with Parangal Dance Company.

story, as a dance instructor, as a professional dancer and as an Afro-Latina. Eso sí is about who I am through Afro-Cuban folklore and dance. I came to the U.S. from Cuba 20 years ago. It’s about my spirituality, with the ori- shas and Santeria, Yoruba traditions that come from Nigeria, and Bantu culture. It’s about ceremony. Eso sí is about music, and that no matter what age you are, everyone’s welcome. I mix rhythms of Rhumba and Comparsa with both passion and heart. I honor the two cultures of Bantu and Vodou through dance. In Eso sí , the Godmother ( La Madrina ) has a dream of one of the dancers (me), traveling to different places, teaching and performing Afro-Cuban Folkloric dance, making money, learning about other cul- tures. So, bless Yemaya. Connect with the ocean. Yemaya provides safe passage across the ocean, and represents the seven seas. In Cuba, El Malecón is very important. It’s the place where Cubans come to sing, cry, dance, maybe find a love. La Madrina

The first act is about storytelling setting up the journey. The second act is more of an energetic ritual. You move through this por- tal through a staircase, running away from the apocalypse, learning about the creation story, traversing waters, climbing moun- tains. They open up their backpacks to find medicine bundles and pieces of trash. They process their connection to the objects. Rec- ognizing that the energy and life force that is spirit, matter, history and future, connects us all, which is directly invoked in imagery on stage. It’s not about spirit vs. matter or inorganic vs. inorganic. Or even the past vs. present. It’s about the in-between. Everything is sacred. Dancing Earth Indigenous Contempo- rary Dance Creations dynamically activates their mission to support Indigenous dance and related arts, to encourage and revitalize awareness of bio-cultural diversity through artistic expression, for the education and wellness of all peoples. Eso sí , Arenas Dance Company’s latest work, celebrated the 20th anniversary of choreographer and director Susana Arenas Pedroso. The evening-length work featured Afro-Cuban folkloric and popular dance, live drumming, incorporated movement and text, and integrated the sacred and the profane in Cuban culture. With sold out performances, Eso sí ran at Eastside Arts Alliance and and Dance Mission Theater October 6-13, 2019 at Dance Mission Theater. CJF: In Eso sí , you integrate your own spiritual practice and honor your ancestors through Afro-Cuban folklore and vibrant visual storytelling. What does Eso sí mean to you? How does it reflect who you are as a cultural barrier within the Afro-Cuban diaspora? Susana Arenas: Soy hija de Elegua y mi mama es Yemaya. As a Cuban, raised in Havana, for me, dance is about life, spirit and soul. Cuba is all about music and dance. We are born with its rhythm. Eso sí is my


in dance JAN/FEB 2020

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