A group of dancers on an outdoor stage with red and white skirts.

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The Dance Theatre: Afro-Latin Immersion Performance Ensemble brought together 24 creative artists into a collaborative cultural immersion experience led by Program Director Maria Torres and accompanying Creative Team including Akasia Ruthy Inchaustegui, Dwayne Beach, Jaime Lozano, Milteri Tucker, Oreste Abrantes, and Wes Veldink.

Maria Torres hugs Cleo Parker Robinson. A group of dancers stand around them and clap.
Program Director Maria Torres hugs Cleo Parker Robinson

Of the Creative Team, Maria Torres says, “The creative team guided a culturally immersive process where dancers integrated a range of dance styles with media, poetry, and spoken word, celebrating the beautiful facets and kaleidoscope of colors making up the Latin Community.”

A group of dancers performing the Latin Hustle, where they partner dance, for an audience in a studio. The dancers are wearing all black and paired in groups of two.
Performers doing the Latin Hustle during the Pause-in-the-Process Showing

Throughout the program, performers displayed keen focus, boundless imagination, and a strong desire for evolution. Whether singing or dancing in Perles Family Studio, their infectious joy raised up the power of creative expression. 

A dancer in a blue t-shirt opens his mouth and shifts his shoulders facing the camera. His arms are slightly bent with wrists flexed.
Mark Aguirre in rehearsal

For Allison Fabrizio, the highlight of her time at the Pillow was “exploring ourselves in the first week and finding my chosen family.” She loved “how much we were able to connect.”

When describing her vision for the program, Program Maria Torres says, “My choreography is a fusion of technique, numerous dance styles, and human movement. I strive to create a rehearsal environment that presents opportunities to gain self-awareness, mind and body connection, and be a conscientious mover.”

She adds, “This program highlights both the vibrancy and profound historical legacy of Afro-Latino/a/x/e identity and culture while acknowledging its invisibility and erasure in America. AfroLatinidad connections are reflected in our ancestors who migrated here and are carried forward by the new generation – some claiming Latinx and some not; as no one term can uniformly capture our identities.”

A dancer faces a drummer in a studio. The dancer spreads his arms, holding a yellow cloth in his right hand. He is in motion and looks as if he is about to whip the cloth.
Edrai Morales improvises with Creative Team Member Oreste Abrantes during the Pause-in-the-Process Showing

For, Will A. Ervin Jr., “The people I shared time with were the best part. They made the experience magical.” Dancer Miriam Hermina echoes this sentiment, saying “getting to know everyone including the staff and dancers passing through during meals and free time was really special!”

Two dancers sit on risers and face each other holding hands.
Miriam Hermina shares a moment with Daniela Ruiz between rehearsals

Looking forward, Caleb Ballantine says, “I will carry the wisdom I was taught from my teachers, the land, my friends, myself, and the special experiences I had for the rest of my life.”

They continue on, “I believe Jacob’s Pillow is an essential part of a dancer’s career and helps them develop so exponentially in such a short period of time.”

Two dancers face each other and lean backwards, arms bent and held open at their sides.
Caleb Ballantine with Lakeria Robinson in class with Cleo Parker Robinson

Watch the Dance Theatre: Afro-Latin Immersion Performance Ensemble show excerpts of their work after one week in the program here. Plus, here’s a sneak peek behind the scenes in rehearsal.

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