Dancer Rosa Lina Lima and new immigrant youth from Brentwood NY: final presentation dancing “Ubuntu”. Photos by Segundo Orellana.

Year: 2023-2024
DanceForce Member: Margarita Espada
Artist: Rosa Lina Lima
Community Partners: Brentwood School District; Patchogue School District; Puerto Rican Coalition; Suffolk Community College; Uplift Our Town
Audience: 120
County: Suffolk

This contemporary dance residency, led by dancer Rosa Lina Lima, immerses participants in the vibrant rhythms and traditions of Afro-Caribbean culture. Rooted in the spirit of “I am, because we are,” the residency fosters a sense of connection and community through movement, exploration, and artistic expression.

Involving the harmonious blending of movement, painting, and the rhythmic beats of percussion workshops, Dancing Ubuntu was a collaborative endeavor that brought together a community of individuals. This project culminated in the creation of intricate bead necklaces, symbolizing the collective efforts and artistic expression of the participants. Rosa Lina’s workshops in contemporary dance and contact improvisation paid homage to the Afro-Caribbean heritage and highlighted the interwoven threads of multiculturalism within Latin American culture.

The percussion workshops were offered by the dancers themselves and were integrated into the final piece. Within the final piece, dancers themselves integrated percussion workshops into the performance. At two conferences, Dr. Ivette Chiclana explored the Caribbean, dance, and the influence of African culture, presenting her research and insights on these interconnected topics. The culminating event featured a concluding presentation by Rosa Lina Lima, which included immigrant students from Brentwood School.

Concluding the formal presentation, a Batey, a traditional Taino Indigenous ceremony, was incorporated. It involved all attendees participating by playing Bomba drums and proposing movements to the percussionists. The percussionists, in turn, had to adapt to the dancers’ rhythms and styles, creating a dynamic and interactive experience.

Collaborating local artists, including painters Segundo Orellana and Mark Poppet and photographer Joan Woznia, joined forces to create visual elements for the final presentation and document the process.

Other Collaborations

Angel Pabon, a musician from the Puerto Rican Coalition, joined the ensemble. Brentwood School District generously provided transportation for participating youth.

Marketing: TEY utilized a diverse marketing approach, including social media campaigns, collaborating with other organizations for local advertising, distributing flyers, and sending blast emails to the community partners.

These young participants in our project are recent immigrants who lacked previous exposure to contemporary dance. In describing her experience, 16-year-old Maria expressed her astonishment and delight at the possibility of dancing with a wall during the contact dance workshop. She described feeling deeply relaxed and fulfilled by the experience and she said “ I never imagined that I could dance with a wall”. In the spirit of cultural exchange, Maria taught the traditional Honduran dance of Punta to our dancer, Rosa Lina. This profound moment fostered genuine connection and understanding between us and the local community.