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About this Piece

Artistic Director’s Note:

We are so grateful to finally share ¡azúcar! in our hometown. Whether you’ve been inside of the creative process with us as a student, a community participant in a lab, a friend, a family member, or if you’ve never experienced CONTRA-TIEMPO live - we are so glad you are here!

Over the last few years with my family, with our company, with my evolving relationship to spirit and through the art I’ve been engaged with, I have been astounded by the magic, miracles, seemingly coincidental signs, affirming that we are going to be okay. So it’s no coincidence that we’ve been deeply immersed in a work that asks, how do we learn to heal with our bodies as our guide? How can our bodies give us access to move through time, to look at our past and not turn away, to feel the grief and to access joy? How can the wisdom embedded in our ancestral movement practices help us feel the power of our connection to one another and to those who are no longer with us in this physical realm? What are the ways we can access a deep sense of well being and grounding inside of our beings, to feel our connection to something so much bigger than ourselves as individuals and be in kinship with our future ancestors?

Through the process of making ¡azúcar! I’ve continued to become clearer about my role as a choreographer, that the writing of dance for me is in the generating and holding of a space that feels generative, supportive, loving, rigorous and brave. The work is to bring together people who genuinely like one another and who I adore, to set some structures and intentions, to then roll up our sleeves and begin to play, generate, create, share and that from this grounding of respect and love for one another, we all begin to feel safer, more held, a sense of belonging. This allows us to show up fully and this deepening continues to spiral. Choreographing for me is community organizing, it’s trusting and inviting in the brilliance and magic of collaboration.

Every person on stage that you witness tonight has been invited to show up as their fullest selves. We have shared about those who are no longer with us, about the times in our lives that were most sweet and most hard - and through this range we have discovered what it feels like to be heard, to be witnessed, to belong. So tonight we invite you in - and welcome us all to ask you/ourselves.

Where are the places and practices where I/we feel most free? How do we learn to be still and listen? How do I/we learn to heal? How does that healing show up in my/our bodies? What does it move like? What does it feel like to listen to the wisdom embedded in our dancing, singing, breathing, vibrating bodies? Let’s build a future from this place.

with much love,



Ana Maria Alvarez

artistic vision, creative instigator, director, choreographer, community organizer


Jannet Galdamez: cielo

performer, rehearsal director, choreographer, creative generator


Kati Hernandez: celeoshun

cultural consultant, movement coach, collaborator, creative generator, guest artist


Ruby Morales: be(e)

performer and creative generator


Jasmine Stanley-Haskins: see see

performer, creative generator, vocalist


Alék G Lopéz: pi

performer and creative generator


Maria I. Garcia: ethereal grace

performer, creative generator, vocalist


Edgar Aguirre: jelik’ laj b’alam

performer and creative generator


Jose Jose Arrieta Cuesta: fe

performer and creative generator


Meena Murugesan

video projection designer, creative collaborator


Maximiliano Urruzmendi

Technical director


Tuce Yasak

Lighting designer in collaboration with Maximiliano Urruzmendi


Rashaan Carter

composer, sound designer, musician


Anaïs Maivel

composer, vibration vocalist, musician


Robert “Bobby” Wilmore



Daniel Penilla



David Israel Reynoso

costume designer for performers


Jaymee Ngernwichit

Costume designer assistant for performers


Halei Parker

Costume designer for Celeoshun


Emily Orling

visual design consultant


Maria I. Garcia

celeoshun headpiece designer and stylist, costume assistant


Peter Volk

set and prop fabrication/design


holly johnston

responsive body ecologist, set and prop fabrication/design, embodied dramaturgy contributor


Maritxell Carrero

Production Manager


Juan “Co-eL” Rodriguez

production assistance


Ariela Conde

apprentice and understudy


Felicia “Onyi” Richards

healer, priestess


Steve Tolin

caña prop fabricator


Community Cast:

Jocelyn Adame, Ulises Aguirre, Stephanie Ballena, Alejandro Barajas, Ariela Conde, Shana Christopher, Cinthia Duran, Kloii Hummingbird, Norma Ovalle, Edrian Pangilinan, Sydney Richardson


Music sampled:

Azucar Negra by Celia Cruz


Source material:

1619 Project / Nicole Hannah-Jones
My Grandmother's Hands /Resmaa Menakem Rest is Resistance /Tricia Hersey
Celia Cruz’s body of work and life story


Special thanks to our ancestors, you are here with us and we honor you:

Grammy, Aba, Sandy Smith, Cesar Cauce, Michael Nathan, Jim Waller, Bill Sampson, Tia Rebecca, Lela Gaby, Ruth Palacio Castellón, Deyanira Castro Diaz, Ana, Victor, Ajaw Kawoq, Ajaw Aj, Barbara Simmons, Louise Payne, Eddie Rios “El Toro”, Eulalia Gonzalez Conde, Maria de Los Angeles Galvan, Nicolas Garcia Ramirez, Lucila “Chila” Lopez, Rufina Barraza, Maria Balbina Bodrian

Thank you to our families, our friends and special thanks to Sally Alvarez, Joe Alvarez, Cesar Alvarez, Amen Santos, Onyi Love, Bernard Brown, and Farah Sosa. We would also like to thank Quetzal Flores for his continued work with us, helping us to move deeper in relationship with our values.

Thank you to Navarro’s Party Supply in Los Angeles for our sugarcane supply and Leticia and Roberto Diaz at La Casa de las Piñatas in San Diego for the local supply of piñatas.

Special thanks to our supporters and partners. ¡azúcar! could not have been created without the generous support of the following: New England Foundation For the arts, LA County Arts & Culture, National Endowment for the Arts, The Getty, The Mellon Foundation, MAP Fund, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Herb Alpert Foundation, Culver City Arts Foundation, Association of Performing Arts Professionals: Arts Forward, UCLA Center for the Art of Performance, The California Endowment and our loving community who has donated to our work over the years.


CONTRA-TIEMPO Activist Dance Theater

CONTRA-TIEMPO is a bold, multilingual Los Angeles-based dance company creating physically intense and politically astute performance work that moves audiences to imagine what is possible. They create a new physical, visual and sonic vocabulary that collages Salsa, Afro-Cuban, hip-hop, and contemporary dance with theater, text, and original music to bring dynamic multi-modal experiences to the concert stage. CONTRA-TIEMPO takes an uncompromisingly radical approach to the ways in which artists function within communities and create their work. They intentionally engage diverse audiences, cultivate dancer leaders, and center stories not traditionally heard on the concert stage, using their engagement process to inform and continuously re-fuel their creative process, and vice-versa.

Much like the communities they reach, CONTRA-TIEMPO is itself a tapestry. The company members are professional dancers, artists, immigrants, educators, activists, organizers, and movers of all types, living and working across Los Angeles and now across the country. Each company member lives, expresses, and struggles within the varied and infinitely complex political and personal landscapes that Artistic Director, Ana Maria Alvarez seeks to address through the company’s work. 

To contribute and learn more about CONTRA-TIEMPO visit


CONTRA-TIEMPO Administration Team:

Ana Maria Alvarez, founding artistic director
Jannet Galdamez, programming + rehearsal director
Ruby Morales, development director
Karina Sainz, managing director
Maritxell Carrero, production + tour manager
Maximiliano Urruzmendi technical director
Jasmine Stanley-Haskins, communications and social media associate
Juan "Co-eL" Rodriguez, office administrator
holly johnston, responsive body ecologist


CONTRA-TIEMPO Board of Directors:

Dawn Comer Sarah Culberson Tanya Finks Jonathan Lowe Casondra Ruga Vivian Rodriguez Francisca Sanchez Kat Yalung

For booking information, contact Lotus Arts Management, Sophie Myrtil-McCourty, president, at 125-28 Queens Boulevard, Suite 346, Kew Gardens, NY 11415.

Tel: 347.721.8724