Gema Sandoval

Artistic Director of Danza Floricanto/USA

Pasadena, CA

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.

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We are super excited to have had the opportunity to meet the truly kind and professional folks from the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Culture Wire. Watch the video below to hear from Jessica Robinson Love and 3 Performing Diaspora artists Gema Sandoval, Charlotte Moraga and Adia Tamar Whitaker talk about what Performing Diaspora meant to […]

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Gema Sandoval is a Performing Diaspora Resident Artist at CountePULSE. See her and Danza Floricanto/USA at weekend 1 of Performing Diaspora, November 12-15. Buy tickets now! Floricanto’s Journey at CounterPULSE Although I have worked as a dance artist and choreographer for over 30 years, I am still a neophyte to many aspects of the creative […]

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When you choreograph folk dance and work to transfer movement from its natural habitat to the stage the considerations are: : Is the representation accurate? Am I being true to the spirit of the dance? Have I accurately reflected the integrity and idiosyncracy of the music, dance and people of that area? As important as […]

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Mexican folk dance has been a part of California since the the late 18th century. In those days the itinerant dance “maestro” went from Rancho to Rancho teaching the latest European dance fads to a multigeneretional clientele. When the Californios held their “meriendas” and “bailes”, this was the perfect opportunity for every elegible bachelor and […]

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Upcoming Event
November 25 @ 6:30 pm / Contact Improvisation Class & Jam – NOV 2014

Class: 6:30-8:00PM (Beginning-Intermediate Level) Instructor for November: Jess Curtis Jam: 8:00-11:30PM $15 Single Class, $5 Single Jam, $18 for both How do we use Contact skills, principles and specific pathways to deepen and expand our dancing (and teaching) rather than letting them become habits we are stuck in?  How do we use habits productively and how […]

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