Artistic Director of Danza Floricanto/USA
Gema Sandoval is the founder and artistic director of Danza Floricanto/USA. Gema is devoted to illuminating her Mexican-American heritage through dance. She and her company have recreated the movement, costume and song of 17 different regions of Mexico, and over half a dozen works on the Chicano experience which celebrate cultural identity for the Mexican American community and the immigrant experience for the rest of America. Sandoval will develop Reflections/Reflecciones, a dance work based on Rudolfo Anaya’s novel Bless Me Ultima, a piece that blends the vocabulary of traditional Mexican and Indigenous folk dance, African influenced and European based contemporary expressions.
2009 Festival Weekend 1 Artist
“Alma Llanera-Spirit of the Plains”
In the 1960’s, Chicano identity in Los Angeles hit a flashpoint when Chicano activist and educator Sal Castro demanded that Mexican Folk Dance (or folkorico) be offered in the curriculum. Gema Sandoval was one of the student beneficiaries of this demand. Within ten years, every school in the east side of Los Angeles had a folklorico class. Spurred by that early experience, Sandoval is now creating a new aesthetic she calls “Chicano Dance.” “I want to not only represent where we came from. I also want to make dances that depict our current moment in time, here in America.” Integrating contemporary movement genres and music with Mexican folk dance in her new work, Alma Llanera-The Spirit of the Plains, Sandoval’s youthful, vibrant troupe draws inspiration from Rudolfo Anaya’s novel Bless Me Ultima about a young boy’s coming of age while negotiating two cultures.