Dance is movement that sparks social change thanks to visionary choreographer and founding artistic director of CONTRA-TIEMPO, Ana Maria Alvarez. Harmoniously merging dance and social justice, Alvarez wouldn’t change anything about CONTRA-TIEMPO’s inspiring journey as the ups and downs produced profound growth for herself and the company, which will soon engage in the upcoming premiere of ¡azúcar! In Los Angeles.
After working as a professional Afro-Haitian and Tango dancer in New York, Alvarez made the vibrant city of Los Angeles her home, receiving an MFA in choreography from UCLA. Alvarez’s MFA thesis sparked her to found CONTRA-TIEMPO. The prolific activist dance theater organization is dedicated to building a loving and just future with ancestral themes. Alvarez’s passion for the work CONTRA-TIEMPO does still burns brightly after almost two decades, leading to her receiving the esteemed Doris Duke Arts fellowship.
Starting a company came with challenges, as CONTRA-TIEMPO was sometimes thought to not belong in the concert dance world. As a woman of color in a leadership position, Alvarez struggled to be taken seriously in the predominantly male world of choreographers. CONTRA-TIEMPO also had to work hard to champion the validity and visibility of dance beyond modern ballet. The company found people truly understood the value of its work once they experienced it. Alvarez notes, “The world is changing, and I think that there’s a way in which the value of what we do is really being heard and felt differently.”
While Alvarez didn’t initially see herself starting a dance company, CONTRA-TIEMPO has blossomed powerfully and will soon shine in the upcoming creative residency ¡azúcar! CONTRA-TIEMPO activist dance theater has partnered with The Ford Theater for a community-unifying celebration that honors heritage, resilience, and unity.Love, resistance, and radical joy are at the heart of CONTRA-TIEMPO’s upcoming creative residency ¡azúcar! Rooted in the Afro-Latine ancestral movement, the captivatingly vibrant performances in ¡azúcar! address important contemporary issues, such as anti-blackness in the Latine community and the historically oppressive impact of sugar. The performance ultimately weaves in an uplifting message, highlighting the resilience of ancestors across Latine cultures. ¡azúcar!’s West Coast premiere debuts Friday, August 18th, 2023, at 8 pm at The Ford Theater. Promising an unforgettable evening of enchantment, healing, and transformation, ¡azúcar! is sure to immerse and inspire through a thought-provoking dance journey.
After overcoming challenges with enthusiasm and determination, CONTRA-TIEMPO is thriving and continues to transform the world with a fusion of activism and dance. Perseverance truly paid off as Alvarez’s CONTRA-TIEMPO now meaningfully impacts the community, country, and world with growing recognition in its field and from funders. At its core, CONTRA-TIEMPO’s commitment is building a community focused on both honoring the past and painting a bright future.
CONTRA-TIEMPO encourages the collective to unite, invent, and imagine together through creative outlets. The company’s work is liberation work, focusing on not just entertaining but building a society where people feel free in their bodies.