R.Evolución Latina utilizes the arts to empower the Latino community to discover their full potential and this year’s “Beyond Workshop Series 2016,” a two-week dance intensive in March gave participants a chance to audition and perform at the choreographer’s festival weekend. We caught up with Daniel Fetecua-Soto, one of the choreographers who is a part of the festival to talk dance, the importance of festivals like this and their hopes for the future of dance.
Where did your love of dance originate?
I think my love for dance came from when I was in my mother’s belly! She loved to dance, she danced salsa, twist, and loved Colombian music. I remember she kept repeating to me when I was little, “it is important you learn how to dance.” Then I found “formal” dance at age 18, and since then, I haven’t stopped.
Why are festivals like this one important for choreographers to be a part of?
As a choreographer, I’m always looking for the next dance, the next opportunity to bring into reality all the images, ideas, feelings, frustrations, and exciting things that are running in my mind. This is a wonderful opportunity to not only get all this rolling in the studio with a large group of talented dancers and human beings, but to co-create with other fantastic artist that are on the same journey.
It’s been said that dance is a universal language. How have you found that to be true?
I greatly agree with this statement. I had the opportunity to live in three different countries (and continents) with different cultures: Colombia, Germany and the USA. Everywhere I went and lived, I found that we are all humans. Once I was in the studio or on the stage, we were all the same. It didn’t matter if I spoke another language, if my color was different or a had a different cultural background, we were all dancing together as one and we were all communicating through the universal language of movement.
What keeps you interested?
There is constant inspiration to create new work to continue sharing what I have learned and to keep learning something new every day. But what’s most important is to get closer to people that have not had the opportunity to experience the arts. In a class, in a performance, in a workshop or in a conversation there is always a seed to be planted. Hopefully, there is room to help make a change in people’s lives, in a good way. Art and especially dance help us become better humans and live better lives.
Why do you continue to dance?
Dance is my passion. My feet keep moving when I hear the music and my heart keeps bumping with it. I will dance as long as my body allows me to do so, and if I can’t dance difficult dances, I think I will keep dancing social dances like salsa, tango, and Cumbia until I can’t walk.
In a world where schools are removing arts programs and the emphasis on arts education is dwindling, what are you doing to help ensure future generations are experiencing and furthering dance?
I think this situation keeps repeating over and over, like an infinite circle. The more cuts they do, the more we need to keep creating and sharing our art. There are always ways to bring the arts to kids or adults that don’t have the opportunity to access them.
Here in NYC, I’m part of Limon4kids where we share this wonderful work with kids in public schools. Also I’m the dance director of Cumbia For Kids a program that we direct with musician and composer Pablo Mayor and his wife Anna. We have been sharing Colombian dance and music traditions for more than 7 years in public schools here in the city. I also travel back to my country to share the Limon’s technique.
What’s coming up for you apart from the festival?
I’m looking forward to a great transition with new Limon Dance Company’s Artistic Director Colin Connor, working with him and continuing my process in the Limon company. Also I’m working on getting my costume together for a fantastic piece choreographed by the one-and-only Daystar/Rosalie Jones who has given me the right to perform her signature piece “Wolf, A Transformation” and that will be performed in November in Santa Fe.
I keep working with my company, Pajarillo Pinta’o Dance Company, performing both traditional Colombian dances and new works I create, fusing traditional dance with modern and contemporary dance. We will have a season in the city in the spring of 2017. And then I’m teaching. There are lots and lots of kids to inspire.