Oct 11-13: Arenas Dance Company
Más que bailar en Cuba bailaremos por Cuba
One thing’s for sure: We don’t just dance in Cuba, we dance for Cuba
presented as part of Dance Mission’s WORD Series (Womxn Oracular Radical Dance)
With guest artist, Freila Merencio Blanco
October 11-13 at Dance Mission
Friday-Saturday 8pm, Sunday 6pm
Eso sí, Arenas Dance Company’s latest work, celebrates the 20th anniversary of choreographer and director Susana Arenas Pedroso’s arrival in the States and her contributions to the Bay Area as a lead artist and cultural bearer of Afro-Cuban dance, rhythms, songs, and stories. The evening-length work, performed to both live drumming and recorded music, features Afro-Cuban folkloric and popular dance, incorporates movement and text, and integrates the sacred and the profane in Cuban culture.
Eso sí, which loosely translates to “that’s it!” or “one thing’s for sure!”, tells the story of a dancer in Havana who is preparing to go on tour to the United States with her dance company. We watch as she rehearses, packs luggage, and says her goodbyes. After giving oftrendas or offerings by Havana’s Malecón to Yemaya (the orisha or deity of the sea) so that the journey is blessed, she arrives in San Francisco, where there is temptation to defect.
Pedroso collaborates with storytellers and percussionists, weaving together text, movement, and song with 12 dancers and five additional musicians. She calls on the strength of the mujer, flipping stereotypical images frequently seen in Cuban popular dances (e.g. the gossip, the flirt) and reclaims them. She calls on her own Lucumí spiritual practice, using its cultural legacies and mythologies to ground the piece. And, she calls on her ancestors, and all those that have crossed seas before her. As the subtitle suggests, más que bailar en Cuba bailaremos por Cuba, this work goes beyond just dancing in Cuba. Instead, we dance for Cuba. You can leave a country, but it doesn’t leave your heart.
Says Pedroso: As this current administration is actively undoing much of what we worked so hard to achieve, I can’t help but wonder, as an Afro-Latina, how my immigration story would be different if it happened today vs 20 years ago?
Eso sí is made possible with support from Zellerbach Family Foundation, CA$H Grant, California Arts Council, Dance Mission Theater, and Eastside Arts Alliance.
About Arenas Dance Company:
Susana Arenas Pedroso founded Arenas Dance Company in 2004 to preserve and promote culturally-rooted, ever-evolving Cuban folkloric and popular dance traditions while embracing creative innovation and hybridity. The company has performed at the SF Opera House, Great American Music Hall, Palace of Fine Arts, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Herbst Theater, Chico State University, Laney College, Stanford University, ODC, La Peña, Dance Mission, and Ashkenaz, to name a few, and frequently appears in festivals such as Black Choreographers, CubaCaribe, SF Salsa/Rueda, Yemanja, Stanford Jazz, and San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festivals. Arenas Dance Company’s last evening-length work, Yo Soy Cuba was enthusiastically received with two sold-out runs.
If you are looking for tickets for the Oct 6 show in Oakland, visit www.eastsideartsalliance.org.
(Photos by Brooke Anderson)