Ana María Alvarez, a 2020 Doris Duke Artist in the dance category, is a prolific choreographer, skilled dancer, masterful teaching artist and movement activist who has achieved multiple accolades for her dynamic works. Her thesis work exploring the abstraction of Latin dance, specifically salsa dancing, as a way to express social resistance as related to the U.S. immigration battle became the impetus for founding CONTRA-TIEMPO Urban Latin Dance Theater in 2005 in Los Angeles. Her most recent work with the company, “joyUS justUS” (2017), is a radical celebration of humanity and the feminine and centers on the power of using joy to fight for a more loving and just world. Her work has been presented in theaters across the country and the world, including in Germany, Bulgaria, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile. She was selected as the 2018 BiNational Artist in Residence, connecting communities in the Sonoran Desert, Phoenix (U.S.), Douglas (U.S.), Tucson (U.S.) and Agua Prieta (M.X.), through leading artistic workshops, collaborative performances and public talks, and concluding with a performance at the U.S.-Mexico border. Alvarez and CONTRA-TIEMPO were also invited to represent the best of American Contemporary Dance Abroad through DanceMotion USA, the Obama Administration’s U.S. Department of State cultural exchange program, produced in partnership with Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Alvarez has been recognized with many awards and prizes, including grants from NEFA’s National Dance Project, the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, Los Angeles City Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles County and the California Arts Council, among others. She is the recipient of a Dance/USA Fellowship to Artists, the Mujeres Destacadas award from LA Opinion and a Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival Rainbow Award for her work “Agua Furiosa.” She received a Bachelor of the Arts in dance and politics from Oberlin College and a Master of Fine Arts in choreography from UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures. Alvarez is currently a candidate working towards her Dunham Certification, in order to teach the technique and uphold the powerful legacy of Katherine Dunham. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.