DanceForce Member: Paz Tanjuaquio
Artist: Leonard Cruz
Leonard Cruz Tanztheater presented a new work at TOPAZ ARTS with creative residency time, culminating in a performance of “Amihan: Moon Warrior of Miracles” on May 21, 2022. Dr. Leonard Cruz (PhD in Urban Education with a focus on the Performing and Creative Arts) was born in Pampanga, the Philippines, raised in San Antonio, Texas (USA), and has lived in Germany the past 25 years. He started dancing at the age of four learning Filipino and Hawaiian Folk Dances. He completed his PhD dissertation on, “Laban Movement Analysis as a Methodology for Promoting Creativity and the Arts Across the Curriculum,” in 2013 from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Cruz has performed for internationally renowned choreographers including: Robert Wilson, Kei Takei’s Moving Earth, Shapiro and Smith Dance, Sally Silvers, and five years with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane and Co. In Germany, he was a guest with Pina Bausch in Wuppertal and a member of the Folkwang Tanz Studio in Essen Werden. From 1994-2001 he was a soloist at the Bremer Stadttheater under the Directorship of Susanne Linke and Urs Dietrich. He has directed his own dance company, “Leonard Cruz Tanztheater” the past 20 years. Leonard specializes in Civic and Community Engagement through the creative and expressive arts and believes in life long performing and learning.
The planning process began in January 2022 with an initial visit by Leonard Cruz in conversation TOPAZ ARTS Co-Founding Directors, to discuss the artist’s needs for a Spring Residency and performance in May 2022. The following is a reflection written by Leonard Cruz on his residency and performance experience at Topaz Arts:
“Todd Richmond and Paz Tanjuaquio, Co-Directors of Topaz Arts were very welcoming and accommodating during my residency from May 16-May 21, of 2022. The space both as gallery and performance studio were optimal for a solo dance evening that has had a rich history of supporting pioneers of contemporary dance icons in Woodside-Queens, New York. As a Filipino-American Dancer/Choreographer it is important for my work to be in spaces that inspire, that cultivate freedom of expression and identity, that allows for collaboration and experimentation. My current choreographic work is Filipino inspired and focuses on themes of de-colonization, gender ﬂuidity, and animist beliefs that all things are alive. The Topaz Arts Gallery at the moment featured visual art works by deceased Cambodian artist Srey Bandaul and Todd B. Richmond that creatively aroused themes of transformation, celebration, and renewal in my choreographic and performance work. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed us all, especially Arts spaces, Artists, and those that have gotten Covid-19, and or have passed away. It was important, vital, and meant for me to be in residence at Topaz Arts. This residency and performance opportunity allowed me to heal myself, others, and the universe as I continue to be empowered in following the footsteps of my Filipino ancestors.”
The hour-long performance was a very moving, and healing experience for all participants and audience. Followed by a reception and post-performance discussion with Cruz.