Art in Action
A New-York based dance company with a mission for social change enters its fourth season.
Nine women crawled across a dimly lit stage, whispering faintly. Neon wigs adorned their heads, while bruises darkened their shoulders and faces. Moments before, choreographer Valeria Yvette Gonzalez had painted the purple and red marks on the dancers, who portrayed victims of domestic violence.
“My vision is to create … a collective consciousness about today’s main social issues through dance,” she said.
“All Women in Me Are,” which premiered last month at New York University’s Jack Crystal Theater, is Gonzalez’s newest creation for her company, VALLETO. She founded the ensemble in 2014 after recovering from a herniated disk injury.
“Dance came back to me with a sense of responsibility,” Gonzalez said. “I decided … I needed to make a difference.”
In additional to its exploration of domestic abuse, the ensemble has also addressed alcoholism, anxiety, urban isolation and equal rights. “IN(touch),” the company’s first full-length work, which premiered in June of 2016, examined female desire.
It was “the first time I was really ‘in touch’ with myself … and it spoke about the desires of the heart versus … the feminine body,” she said. “As usual, it also had a bit of absurdism in it.”
The performance’s reception featured an exhibition by feminist Mexican artists, created exclusively for the show.
“This was for me to … celebrate my roots as a Mexican, and also support my fellow Mexican artists,” Gonzalez said.
The company employs dancers from Mexico, as well as from Cuba, Japan, Ecuador and the United States.
VALLETO was created with “the idea of celebrating diversity in dance,” Gonzalez said.
Such an international focus appeared in VALLETO’s 2014 Kickstarter campaign, as well, which drew nearly half of its support from donors abroad. The $6,233 raised funded the company’s first three seasons.
Now entering its fourth season, VALLETO is collaborating with the Creators Collective, a nonprofit organization for artists in Brooklyn.
“This work will be experimental and will reflect the nightlife of Brooklyn,” Gonzalez said. It will be “inspired by … the photographs” of Luis Nieto Dickens, a New York-based cultural photographer.
The production will also feature costumes by Cassie Mills, who designed for the company throughout its previous seasons.
Gonzalez’s goals for the upcoming season include “becoming a nonprofit, creating a … bigger Kickstarter campaign, and creating … new work … that will speak up for humanity,” she said.