This blog focuses on VSA North Fourth Art Center and its primary programs: Day Arts and Arts Adventures, arts learning programs designed to enhance and inform the lives of people with disabilities, and N4th Theater & Gallery created to enrich the cultural lives of the entire community.
Now at the end of February 2011, as the spring edition of Global DanceFest approaches, the next few weeks will focus on the world of dance. Global DanceFest (produced by NewArt New Mexico with partners, VSA arts of New Mexico and National Hispanic Cultural Center) runs for three weekends (March 11-26).
This spring our dancers come from Mozambique, New York and Los Angeles. They’re an interesting collection of artists—all with ties to Albuquerque in one way or the other—a season of artists we know and love.
Panaibra Gabriel Canda: I got to know this soft-spoken young Mozambican dancer two years ago during a two-week research trip to Maputo for the Africa Contemporary Arts Consortium. When he brought (IN)DEPENDENCE to Albuquerque in 2009, it was obvious that Panaibra’s thoughtful, almost gentle persona encompassed a forceful sense of social justice, expressed through dance of such intensity it was sometimes hard to watch. Now in 2011, the mood has changed but the aim is the same. In Time and Spaces: The Marrabenta Solos, Panaibra and his fellow artist, musician Jorge Conceicao, offer a new understanding of marrabenta, the music of Mozambique’s struggle for independence—music played by Panaibra’s father during those years as Panaibra was growing up in Maputo. Panaibra’s work compliments and extends the mission of so many young African artists—to bring the stories of their personal and political worlds to the attention of others through their own artistic mediums—and to present it in such a way that there is no doubt about the power of their intentions.
Licia Perea: Licia is a hometown girl…made good in the big city of LA. I’ve known her for many years—first as a striking young UNM student, already with that indefinable quality called presence. Sometime, while I was away, she grew up, moved to LA and became a beautiful and accomplished woman who had added classical Latina passion to her persona. Goya’s Los Caprichos provide the basis for Slumber of Reason, a piece in which Licia’s abilities as choreographer, dancer, actress and storyteller are apparent. This artist’s mission, in some part at least, is to incorporate the stories of her own artistic and cultural heritage into a special brand of dance-theater?
Panaibra, Stephen and Licia are as different from each other in many ways as it is possible to be—different places in their careers, different cultural backgrounds, even—to some degree, different dance missions! I know artists frequently object to anyone attributing the idea of mission to their work—they make art, they say, without having to attach another idea to where their creativity takes them. But isn’t there a sense of mission in what we all do in our work and lives? Mission just means purpose after all—it just sounds more profound. What the serious young Mozambican, the charismatic New Yorker and the talented Angelino all have in common is that they create work that is thought-provoking, mesmerizing, informative and a joy to experience.