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Meet Christine Suarez of Suarez Dance Theater

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christine Suarez.

Christine, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I moved to Los Angeles twelve years ago after living in New York City for twelve years. I came here to go to graduate school at UCLA. My goal was to receive an MFA in choreography so I could transition to working in academia. I had founded Suarez Dance Theater in NYC in 2006 as a 501c3, not for profit. I was pretty burned out from the hustle of fundraising for my creative work while also trying to make a living. Graduate school was such a gift to be able to focus solely on the craft of choreographing and not having to focus on all the administrative duties of running a company. I came out of UCLA with a fresh focus and renewed enthusiasm.

I was energized to make new dance-theater works in unexpected places, with unexpected people about unexpected subjects. I had deepened my faith in the collaborative process and harvesting personal narratives. Since then I have had the privilege to have on-going collaborate with many different communities in Los Angeles: students at alternative high schools, veterans who cope with mental illness, school-age kids in addition to a group of highly skilled dance professionals. Over and over again, I see how dancing and dance-making is a transformative experience.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Yes and no it’s been a smooth road. I got pregnant while in grad school which was unexpected. Maintaining my connection to myself as an artist while becoming a mother was tough. There was a lot of – “who am I?” And once again as it has before dance and story came to the rescue. My first evening-length work after my son was born was inspired by his birth and the death of my nephew. This started a five-year journey of making dance-theater works about mothering and parenting inspired by different stories and communities. I worked with a group of teen mothers to make a work about their experiences as moms.

I collaborated with four moms/performers. We made a piece about their experiences as mothers either raising a Black son, a biracial daughter, or a child with impactful special needs. These past three years I have been working outside of the theater performance model – with an effort to present work in alternative spaces. That can be challenging because often alternative spaces don’t know how to support a dance happening in their space. There is a lot of clear communication from my end that has to happen.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Suarez Dance Theater story. Tell us more about the business.
I am really proud of the audiences I serve. Like I said before I am aiming to reach communities that normally would not experience dance-theater. We’ve performed on beaches, parks, churches, synagogues, recreation rooms, classrooms. The company’s aim is to connect and start conversations. Our last piece was called – On Being American.

We promoted it as an “interactive dance event” Throughout the piece the audience was tasked with different things. They connected with one another – they connected with the performers around questions of what it means to be an American.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I don’t know. I really don’t believe in luck. I see perseverance as playing a bigger role in my life and business. I have been working professionally as a choreographer for 24 years. I have often not had financial security as a result. I’ve spent years applying for grants that I didn’t get – until I did. For example, I applied for one grant at least five times before I got it. Luck? or just keeping at it?

Pricing:

  • We keep our ticket prices low from 10-20$.
  • When we offer workshops or classes, again we aim to offer affordable rates of 10-15$

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Nguyen Nguyen, CedarBough Saeji

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