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Contra-Tiempo en su momento de Miami

Photo: Contra Tiempo Ashlee Thomas; photo by Tyrone Domingo
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En los años 1970, la salsa alcanzó su pico como expresión sociocultural latina. Hoy día, para la coreógrafa y bailarina cubano americana Ana María Álvarez, ese pasado como grito urbano poético de las calles sigue más relevante que nunca.

Gracias mayormente al sello discográfico Fania y a gigantes del género como Héctor Lavoe, Celia Cruz, y Tito Puente, este ritmo tropical de raíces puertorriqueñas y cubanas contagió a millones en todo el mundo y destapó problemáticas de los latinos en este país.

Con el propósito de llevar a nuevas generaciones la idea de que la música y la danza todavía tienen mucho que decir, Álvarez y su hermano César fundaron en 2005 en Los Ángeles la compañía de baile urbano latino Contra-Tiempo.

El 20 y 21 de este mes, Contra-Tiempo hará su debut oficial en el sur de la Florida en el Carnival Studio Theater de Adrienne Arsht Center de Miami. Antes de las presentaciones en el Arsht, el 18, el grupo se reunirá con estudiantes y maestros de escuelas públicas del condado. Para Álvarez, toda esta ocasión representa una mezcla de entusiasmo y nervios. Como ir a bailar a casa del trompo.

“Éste es un gran momento para nosotros, especialmente porque toda mi familia está en Miami”, dice Álvarez desde California. “Siento que finalmente llego a compartir lo que hago con mi familia. Hemos estado trabajando tan duro por los pasados nueve años, en la mayor cantidad de mercados posible, y Miami siempre ha sido un lugar al que habíamos querido ir pero para el cual no se había presentado la oportunidad”.

Contra-Tiempo llevará a escena una pieza artística de impacto estrenada en el 2011, Full Still Hungry, en la que el cuerpo de nueve bailarines se expresará sobre las temáticas del hambre y del exceso de consumo a través de la salsa, ritmos afrocubanos, teatro y danza contemporánea y urbana.

“A lo largo de los años, he incorporado a mi trabajo mucho de mi ‘cubanía’, pero también mis estudios de danza cubana”, destaca Álvarez, de 37 años. “Una danza cubana que no es la tradicional aunque está nutrida por mis estudios sobre los orishas, la rumba, la salsa”.

Por un mundo mejor

Las creaciones de Álvarez cuentan con un componente social que encuentra raíces en el trabajo de sus padres como líderes sindicales.

“Sé que la política de Miami es muy distinta a la de otros lugares cuando se habla de resistencia y de movimientos sociales”, analiza Álvarez. “Crecí con la idea de que nosotros como seres humanos debemos hacer de este mundo uno mejor. Eso fue parte de mi formación, y es muy diferente a la forma de crecer de mucha otra gente. Tengo emoción entonces y un poco de nerviosismo por cómo pueda ser recibido mi trabajo aquí”.

Pero eso es parte de ser artista, considera.

“Estás creando una obra que es auténtica y fiel a tu propia voz, y algunas personas oirán lo que tienes que decir, y otras no”, reflexiona. “Pero eso está bien, porque no puedes crear algo sólo para que alguien lo escuche de cierta manera, y yo considero que nuestro trabajo proviene de un lugar verdadero”.

Esa autenticidad la evoca la pieza Full Still Hungry, que Álvarez y su hermano concibieron en tres partes, full (lleno), still (quieto), y hungry (con hambre).

Full es sobre la sociedad hoy día y su consumo desmedido y colosal de todo”, dice Álvarez. “Still mira al pasado, de dónde venimos, la conexión que originalmente teníamos antes con la comida pero también los problemas que había. Y Hungry es sobre el futuro y el impacto que estamos teniendo en el mundo y lo que va a suceder sino hacemos algo ahora”.

Su forma de ver la vida

La pieza, agrega, refleja su visión de lo que ella cree como artista.

“Que si nos damos cuenta de que necesitamos estar más conectados, y si todos tomáramos el tiempo para escuchar nuestras historias, de dónde viene la gente, cuáles son sus experiencias”, sostiene, “eso afectaría nuestras decisiones y viviríamos en un mundo de mayor compasión”.

Esta filosofía ha moldeado su forma de ser y su manera de crear. Álvarez comenzó a bailar desde muy jovencita, estudiando ballet, adentrándose en la técnica de baile de Katherine Dunham y en los bailes folclóricos afrocubanos y afrohaitianos. Cursó estudios universitarios en Oberlin College, graduándose en danza y política, y luego se mudó a Nueva York. De ahí partió para Los Ángeles en 2002. En UCLA completó su MFA con una tesis sobre la danza latina, en particular la salsa, como vehículo para expresar resistencia ante la batalla inmigratoria que afecta adversamente a tantas personas en este país. Ésa fue la semilla de la cual brotaría Contra-Tiempo.

“Fui a Los Ángeles para llevar a cabo mis estudios graduados”, recuerda Álvarez. “Para ese tiempo estaba bailando en Nueva York, enseñando, y decidí que quería obtener mi título en coreografía. De veras pensé que después regresaría a Nueva York, pero una vez empecé a hacer mi trabajo en torno a la tesis, con la salsa como metáfora de resistencia, me quedé. Había un interés en lo que hacíamos y sentí que llenábamos un vacío que había”.

El año pasado, el Departamento de Estado americano invitó al grupo a formar parte del programa de intercambio cultural DanceMotion USA, que conecta compañías de danza aquí con artistas y comunidades de otros países. Contra-Tiempo se presentó en Bolivia, Chile, y Ecuador.

“Fuimos embajadores de la danza”, dice orgullosa. “Eso fue como una confirmación de nuestro trabajo, de que, sí, aquí estamos”.

Contra-Tiempo en estreno en el sur de la Florida, Carnival Studio Theater, Adrienne Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Cuándo: 20 y 21 de febrero. Horario: 20 de febrero 7:30 p.m., 21 de febrero 2 p.m. y 7:30 p.m. Boletos: $40. Tel. 305-949-6722, 877-949-6722;

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Journalist, arts writer, instructor of English and Spanish

A bilingual journalist and writer for over 20 years, Juan Carlos studied Communications at Fordham University in New York. He holds a Master&rsquo..

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