CONTRA-TIEMPO | Activist Dance Theater

A FirstWorks residency free to all March 18-25, 2021

“The new face of Los Angeles dance, the new voice as well…”
–Los Angeles Times

Founded and directed by Ana Maria Alvarez CONTRA-TIEMPO has been dedicated to transforming the world through dance for over 15 years. Through their unique and dynamic dance-theater work, both on and off stage, CONTRA-TIEMPO builds community, facilitates dialogue, and moves us to imagine what is possible in the world.
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A Black female dancer with her arms outstrecthed looking up against a colorful fabric backgroundjoyUS justUS Performance
Watch with us Thursday, March 18, 7:30 PM EST
Watch On Demand March 19-21

Experience Activist Dance Theater that takes on joy as the ultimate expression of resistance! 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. These stories, from the artists and community participants of South Los Angeles, are personal truths about the power of hope, faith, and family, the strength of the villages that have raised our children and the wealth that lives in our collective histories of struggle and resistance.

“Joy as revolution is a much-needed antidote to the times we live in, and “joyUS justUS” promises to be about as much fun as you can legally have.”

A Black female dancer leaping high into the air and smiling as seated audience members look onDancing Familias Workshop
Saturday, March 20, 11 AM EST

Join via zoom and groove with CONTRA-TIEMPO Artistic Director Ana Maria Alvarez and Company Member Ruby Morales in this full-body dance class. Designed for all levels, caregivers, parents, kiddos or anyone who wants to work that radical joy muscle! CONTRA-TIEMPO will guide the group in a powerful experience rooted in Afro Latin movement and grooving to build connection.

Shey Rivera RíosFirstWorks Creative Conversation: A Place at the Table
Tuesday, March 23, 5 PM EST

Watch a recording below

CONTRA-TIEMPO Artistic Director Ana Maria Alvarez talks one-on-one with fierce creators about how they work as activists and artists in this world.

Providence-based interdisciplinary artist, cultural strategist, and arts administrator Shey Rivera Ríos takes their place at the table for the FirstWorks installment of this weekly series. (photo credit: Erin X. Smithers)


ANA MARIA ALVAREZ is a Cuban-American choreographer, born and raised in the Southern and Northeastern United States. A 2020 Doris Duke Award recipient, she has received other numerous awards and recognition from the arts world and beyond, including selection for DanceMotionUSA (BAM and US Department of the State), The Association of Performing Arts Presenters Emerging Leaders Institute and Leadership Think Tank, Mujeres Destacadas from LA Opinion (newspaper), LA City Council District 11, Durfee Foundation, Puffin Foundation, Instituto de Cultura de Puerto Rico and Brooklyn Arts Exchange’s Artist in Progress Award among others. She is a five-time grant recipient from the Center for Creative Innovation, a four-time grant recipient from the National Association for Latino Arts and Cultures, four-time LA Department of Cultural Affairs Artist in Residence grantee and was recently awarded a grant from the NEA as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Most recently her new evening length work “Full Still Hungry” was supported by the James Irvine Foundation and United States Artists (through their online support program). In the last few years, Alvarez has been commissioned by Jamie Nichols’ Celebrate Dance, St. Joseph’s Ballet (Now called the Wooden Floor) and CounterPULSE’s Performing Diaspora Festival. Last year Alvarez was invited to choreograph the first of seven plays about Hunger with Cornerstone Theater and Homeboy Industries. Alvarez is regularly invited to speak about her work, and recently spoke at a DanceUSA Annual Conference and at El Teatro del Lago in Frutillar, Chile, about “fusion and the use of traditional movement forms in contemporary dance.” In 2012 Alvarez was invited by the LA Department of Cultural Affairs and America Dance Abroad, to represent Los Angeles contemporary dance and CONTRA-TIEMPO at the Internationale Tanzmesse, in Dusseldorf, Germany. Several months later, she was invited back to Dusseldorf to participate in a new choreographers lab called IPAY Kindling/Fresh Tracks. Alvarez was selected from a competitive pool of applicants, as the only North American Choreographer to participate in this new program. The development of her newest work, an Urban Latin Dance Theater version of the Tempest is being supported by UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, where she is currently an artist in residence.

SHEY RIVERA RÍOS (pronouns: they/them. pronombres: elle, ellx) is an interdisciplinary artist, cultural strategist, and arts administrator. Their artistic creations explore the topics of home, capitalism, queerness, magic, and our relationship to technology. Rivera has 10 years of experience in the arts sector intersecting creative practice with urban planning and racial equity. Their trajectory includes 8 years of leadership at AS220, a non profit arts organization and artistic incubator in Providence, RI, and being part of the team of the Community Innovation Lab (MIT CoLab) of the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Rivera majored in Psychology and Sociology at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR-Rio Piedras), and has postgraduate studies in Culture and Contemporary Media from Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, Puerto Rico. Rivera serves on the Board of Directors of the Artist Communities Alliance and the Providence Downtown Design Review Committee. Key artistic projects include the LUNA LOBA performance series and the FANTASY ISLAND transmedia project. Rivera’s work has been featured in publications such as Hyperallergic and Art Scope New England.

A group of Latinx women in colorful skirts and tops dancing togetherCommunity Dance Class
Thursday, March 25, 5:30 PM EST

Get down in CONTRA-TIEMPO’s weekly community class! Whether you need to shake off a day at work or school, or you want to continue in your dance training, this class is designed for everyone.


CONTRA-TIEMPO is a bold & multilingual Los Angeles-based dance company founded and directed by Ana Maria Alvarez. Their work, rooted in Salsa & Afro-Cuban, draws from Hip-Hop, urban & contemporary dance-theater. Alvarez and her company create physically intense and socially astute performance work that pushes the boundaries of Latin dance as an expressive cultural and contemporary form. CONTRA-TIEMPO takes Salsa back to its roots as a mode of expression for the struggles of the working class and is committed to making high-quality, professional performance work accessible for all, regardless of race or class. The company exists inside of and embodies the ‘in between’ space: leader/follower, immigrant/American, English/Spanish, performer/listener. They embrace this liminality 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 Alvarez addresses both on and off stage. Resident composer and co-founder, César Alvarez, approaches the music for the group as if it were a new genre. CONTRA-TIEMPO’s movement narrative calls for a complete rebuilding of “dance music” using a sonic vocabulary as far-reaching and diverse as the company members’ backgrounds. In the original music he composes for CONTRA-TIEMPO’s performances, César deconstructs salsa, collaging Americana with hip-hop, poetry with clave, industrial and found sound with the powerful rhythmic traditions of the African Diaspora.
New England Foundation for the ArtsFunded in part by the New England States Touring program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program and the six New England state arts agencies.

FirstWorks gratefully thanks all our donors, sponsors, partners, and community for their support.

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This program is free thank to generous, arts-loving supporters like YOU! Please help us continue lifting all Rhode Islanders through the arts with your donation today.