Carpenter Performing Arts Center to Present JoyUS JustUS, a Dance-Theatre Experience by CONTRA-TIEMPO with Live Music by Las Cafeteras

Carpenter Performing Arts Center to Present JoyUS JustUS, a Dance-Theatre Experience by CONTRA-TIEMPO with Live Music by Las Cafeteras
LONG BEACH, California. — Carpenter Performing Arts Center, located on the campus of Cal State Long Beach, will present joyUS justUS, the newest work by urban Latin dance-theatre company CONTRA-TIEMPO with live music by the East LA band Las Cafeteras on Saturday, November 10, 2018 at 8:00 pm.
joyUS justUS is the product of a collaboration between CONTRA-TIEMPO and a group of multifaceted designers, artists, and community organizations celebrating the beauty and power of people who have survived immense hardship and injustice with their humanity and joy intact. The concept for the piece started with a two year partnership with social justice-based organization Community Coalition (, through what CONTRA-TIEMPO artistic director Ana María Alvarez calls, “a profound experiment in building community and collaboration.” CONTRA-TIEMPO led weekly community get-downs or ‘Sabor Sessions’ with Community Coalition, which became spaces to create communal joy. “Joy is our most powerful tool in building a more just, compassionate and loving world—we need to learn to use it—and use it fully,” says Alvarez. From these sessions a theme emerged: a desire to disrupt the deficit-based narrative of people of color in South L.A. in favor of lifting voices that celebrate the resilience, hope, and joy of this community.
CONTRA-TIEMPO collaborated with artists from across Los Angeles to bring joyUS justUS to life. South L.A. residents engaged in choreography labs to shape the piece, providing feedback and sharing stories. For the performance, sound designer d. Sabela grimes (Assistant Professor at USC Kaufman School of Dance) layers in sounds of Alvarez’s sons crying and laughing with candid conversations about the ensemble’s families and sounds of protests from L.A., Mexico, and Brazil. Those sounds are then joined by Las Cafeteras’s up-beat genre-bending music. Born and raised east of the Los Angeles river, Las Cafeteras remixes roots music and Afro-Mexican beats using traditional Son Jarocho instruments like the jarana, requinto, quijada, and tarima while singing in English and Spanish, with lyrics aimed to inspire love and justice. The Los Angeles Times described Las Cafeteras as “uniquely Angeleno mishmash of punk, hip-hop, beat music, cumbia and rock … live, they’re magnetic.”
From Artistic Director Ana María Alvarez:
“Whenever humans have survived immense hardship and injustice, prevailing with their humanity intact, the presence of joy—or, the knowingness and celebration of our true beauty and power—has always been at the root. joyUS justUS reclaims the dominant deficit-based narrative of people of color in this country as being underprivileged, voiceless, powerless, and victimized, and flips it on its head by embodying stories of joy collected from communities of color in South Los Angeles. These stories will be personal truths about the power of hope, faith, and family, the strength of the villages that have raised our children, the wealth that lives in our collective histories of struggle and resistance…. Through the conversations with South LA communities, we have built a dance theater work that is an embodiment of our own personal stories and the collective resilience and inspiration of community members. By inviting audiences locally and nationally to actively participate in what they’re experiencing on the stage, and continuing to engage broader audiences in the telling of their own truths, we will create spaces of joy and healing, allowing the collective ‘us’ to feel more connected, loved, powerful, and alive.”
The presentation of joyUS justUS was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Single tickets are on sale now for joyUS justUS and season subscriptions to the Carpenter Center’s Dance Series which includes Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana and Trinity Irish Dance Company are available through November 9. For tickets and more information, visit or call the Carpenter Center Ticket Office at (562) 985-7000. This season is made possible in part by Season Media Partner KPCC 89.3-FM.
Founded and directed by Ana María Alvarez in 2005, CONTRA-TIEMPO’s unique Urban Latin Dance Theatre brings to life voices that are not traditionally heard on the concert stage. Their work is rooted in Salsa and Afro-Cuban, and draws from hip-hop, urban, and contemporary dance-theatre. They create an invigorating blend of physically intense and socially astute performance that pushes the boundaries of Latin dance as an expressive cultural and contemporary form. Taking Salsa back to its roots as a mode of expression for the struggles of the working class, the company is committed to making high quality, professional performance work accessible for all, regardless of race or class. CONTRA-TIEMPO exists inside of and embodies the ‘in-between’ space: leader/follower, immigrant/American, English/Spanish, performer/listener. They fully embrace that liminal experience as artists within communities, both on and off stage. CONTRA-TIEMPO is a rich tapestry of professional dancers and performers from varied styles, many of whom are immigrants or first generation North Americans, and exist within the varied and infinitely complex political and personal landscapes that they address in their work.
“The new face of Los Angeles dance, and the new voice as well.”
– Lewis Segal, Los Angeles Times
“A performance that moves beyond just dance, but expresses with its movements the strength of the Latino community in their struggle as they live in a country that is not their own.”
– Washington Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *