The DAM, Cleo Parker Robinson & Mexican Dance Company Celebrate Unity Across Cultures

The DAM, Cleo Parker Robinson & Mexican Dance Company Celebrate Unity Across Cultures

Unidos, the theme for this month’s CelebrARTE at the Denver Art Museum, means unified or united. We couldn’t be more pleased to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month by celebrating our unity in diversity as we collaborate with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Company, Dancing Across Cultures of Denver, and Arte Crisol of Guadalajara, Mexico. At CelebrARTE on September 21, these three dance companies will perform Azteca Spirit, a work inspired by Mexican and African-American cultures. They also will conduct a taller (or master artist workshop) with visitors.

With this extensive international collaboration, we wanted to learn more from the artists. The following conversation is conducted in English and Spanish. If you want to translate it, click the Select Language tab in the upper right hand corner of the page. (However, please note that will translate the entire page.)

What Inspired Their Collaboration?

Madalena Salazar: An international partnership like this doesn’t happen every day. How did this partnership come about?

Claudia, Arte Crisol: Sucedió a partir del festival de danza y medios electrónicos Baila a pantalla 2015 de mi ínteres como programadora y directora de este festival por tener compañías de alto nivel como lo es Cleo Parker Dance Company, de compartir experiencias entre una compañía y otra, ya que creemos que existen ciertas similitudes entre la compañia de Cleo y nuestra compañía Crisol respecto a la fusión de lenguajes dancísticos.

Sucedió también a partir del encuentro del maestro Jairo Heli Con Cleo Parker en un viaje que tuvo el maestro a Denver y quedó emocionado por el trabajo y la diversidad de técnicas que realiza la compañía de Cleo.

Cleo, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance: Janelle Ayon and our executive director Malik Robinson began discussions concerning a cultural exchange about a year ago when the artistic director of Arte Crisol Danza was here in Denver taking classes at the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance studios. As the year progressed, the artistic and logistical team continued to grow and as plans began to truly take shape, we knew the long-held dream was going to become a reality.

What Inspires Their Work?

Madalena: Can you tell us more about each of your creative projects and what inspires you?

Claudia: Arte Escena Crisol es una compañía que cuenta con tres directivos, estos tres directivos cuentan con carreras diversas en la danza y que se han encontrado por azares del destino, unificando su trabajo, unificando conceptos e ideas, Arte Crisol por sus características cuenta con varias producciones creativas al año, como por ejemplo dentro del marco del 4 festival Internacional de danza y medios electrónicos Bailara a pantalla en éste festival se están creando producciones nuevas e inéditas bajo la dirección de Claudia Herrera, así como la nueva producción de CRISOL danza fusión con su nuevo montaje llamado¨Tierra Mestiza¨ dirijido por Jairo Heli y Betsaida Pardo, este montaje se estrenará en 2015

Cleo: Cleo Parker Robinson Dance has always held to the philosophy of “One Spirit, Many Voices” and for many years, we have developed collaborations with guest companies from around the world.

Cleo Parker Robinson Dance had created two works that were especially relevant to this project. One is our signature work Raindance, which has been performed worldwide since 1983, focusing on the universality of water in all cultures. The other was a newer work, Dreamcatchers, which was created in 2012 and premiered in New Zealand that same year. This work centers on the untold stories of the Americas, including the story of the African-based communities in Mexico that throughout the 1700s and 1800s, became a significant part of the culture. Both of these works will be featured as part of the Azteca Spirit performance.

The work of Arte Crisol Danza is a blending of both traditional Mexican and modern dance forms. Bringing them together with our company, which though deeply rooted in the traditions of the African diaspora is expressed through iconic modern movement, offered the perfect opportunity to explore cultural commonalities.

What to Expect at CelebrARTE?

Madalena: What does unidos, unified, mean to you? Who and/or what are we bringing together this month?

Claudia: Unidos con el arte, unidos con la tradición, unidos con la fusión, unidos con los pueblos, unidos con la unidad y la diversidad de las culturas.

Cleo: For us at Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, the equivalent would be the Swahili word harambee, which translates as “coming together.” This is a celebration of oneness and is the motivating spirit we bring to all of our work, whether it be performance, community outreach, or educational.

Madalena: Can you give us an idea of what to expect from your performances?

Claudia: Se espera la fusión de técnicas, de países de hermanamiento, de aquí para allá, de allá para acá, de experiencias nuevas, de compartir bagajes, de un todo.

Cleo: This is going to be a powerhouse performancetwo incredible companies bringing their artistry to one stage. Audiences will experience a transformation, both artistically and spiritually. They will find themselves both educated and entertained and it is our hope that this will be the start of many more such collaborations.

Photos courtesy of Arte Crisol Danza and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance.

Madalena Salazar is the Latino cultural programs coordinator in the education department at the Denver Art Museum. Madalena has been at the DAM since 2011 and her favorite artwork that has been on view here is Mud Woman Rolls On. This piece reminds her of home, family, and community and serves as inspiration for her practice as a museum educator at the DAM.

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