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EL TEATRO DE DANZA CONTEMPORANEA (DE EL SALVADOR)
DC CONTEMPORARY DANCE THEATRE

History of the Company- From DC to Latin America and Back:

history1The evolution of the Company has been the journey of Founder/Artistic Director, Miya Hisaka and her dancers, that has spanned two continents and 30 years of dedication of promoting diversity and a commitment to excellence in the arts.

It all began in 1984 in Washington, DC, when Hisaka created DC’s first multicultural repertory dance company, The DC Contemporary Dance Theatre (DCCDT), with Associate Directors, Adrain Bolton and Katharine Smith; both graduates of The Duke Ellington High School for the Performing Arts. For over a decade, DCCDT took the City by storm by: gathering some of it’s most outstanding ethnic dance talent; putting together a powerful board of directors; and presenting nationally and internationally renown guest choreographers’ diverse works by Gene Hill Sagan, Rod Rodgers, Kevin Iega Jeff, Jason Taylor, Gloria Contreras and Lloyd Whitmore. In all areas, from artistic to business, DCCDT represented some the most outstanding ethnic leadership.

DCCDT was also one of the first tenants in the Stables Arts Center, and soon became involved with important City issues, such as the redevelopment of the Gallery Row, 14th and T Arts Districts, and the renovation of the Lincoln Theatre. Within their first year, DCCDT became one of the first local, ethnic companies to have a regular season at the Kennedy Center, Dance Place and the first Add Arts Festival. Furthermore, DCCDT brought international acclaim to the District when they were selected as cultural ambassadors to represent Washington, DC to the world, with a ten-year tour sponsored by the State Department and the Sister Cities Cultural Exchange Program taking them from Thailand, Jordon to the Dominican Republic. DCCDT’s School, The 8th Street Studio (in the Stables Arts Center); it soon became a training center for some of the City’s most gifted and talented African American, Latino and Asian dancers. The Company became a feeding ground to major companies, such as the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, Philadanco, along with their counterparts, Cleo Parker Robinson, Dayton Contemporary Dance Theatre, and Lulu Washington. Hisaka also mentored much of DC’s dance leadership such as Dana Tai Soon Burgess, Douglas Yeuell, Juan Carlos Rincones, Lucy Bowen McCauley, among others, in the creation of their own institutions.

Then came the late l980’s, where the national AIDS epidemic brought tremendous loss to the dance world, and DCCDT lost the majority of their male dancers and many choreographers. Thus compelled, Hisaka moved to Latin America in search of what had been lost; and due to the unbelievable outstanding talent at the National School of Dance Morena Celarie, she ended up settling in El Salvador for over a decade.history2

This began the Company’s 2nd chapter of their life that began in l994 in San Salvador, where she met her Associate, Francisco Castillo, and her founding members at the National School. Arriving to the country right after one of Latin America’s most brutal 12-year civil wars with the signing of the Peace Accords, the next decade of post war reconstruction work was nothing less than profound during this historical moment where creativity and self-expression flourished abundantly. Hisaka re-established her Company, giving it the name of El Teatro de Danza Contemporanea de El Salvador (TDC) which was DCCDT’s same name but in Spanish: with a similar artistic vision of nurturing the City’s most outstanding talent. But TDC was more than a dance company. It was distinctive because it was the first professional company in the history of El Salvador, and because its objectives went beyond performance. TDC originally united artistic leaders from all regions of El Salvador with a common vision for dance, as well as a driving commitment for the re-development of the country after a civil war. Because of this history, TDC used dance as a means to: preserve a distinctive Central American history/culture; for self-expression; for the restoration of lost history; for healing and the development of human dignity; to maintain dialogue and exchange between two Central America societies – one in USA and one in Central America, and to help build a new vision and fundamental values upon which a changing US Hispanic society is being built. TDC was committed to a country, to its people and to its unique history with an insistence on artistic excellence and soon brought international acclaim to El Salvador through their storytelling dances, groundbreaking outreach programs, and innovative post-war reconstruction work.

history3TDC worked towards this mission through: the professional dance company; the Youth Dance Leadership Program (YLP); and their School. The professional Company’s repertory and dancers began touring internationally the first year of its inception in l994. On the home front, they were the first company to re-establish an annual season at the National Theatre (after being closed for 12 years during the war) and abroad; they were presented at some of the USA’s most prestigious theaters.history6

In l996, TDC raised the funds, found the land and built their first school, El Centro para Liderazgo en las Arts (Center for Leadership in the Arts, CELARTE), El Salvador’s first professional performing arts school committed to the development of artists with an interest in the arts and public service. Together TDC and CELARTE created innovative programs and worked with hundreds of youth and families, dancers, painters and youth gang “maras”, by bringing dance for the first time to 38 rural pueblos outside San Salvador. TDC won international competitions and became funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, The Humanistic Institute for Developing Countries (HIVOS), among other world organizations.

After 10 years of post war reconstruction work in El Salvador, the Company’s mission expanded, and in l999, TDC moved to the USA/DC to work with the thousands of displaced Salvadorans residing in the Mt. Pleasant area. Through the generous support of the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, The Meyer Foundation and many patrons, TDC’s launched their YLP geared towards gifted and talented Salvadoran, Central American, Afro-Caribbean, African-American youth (ages 6-16) in Columbia Heights, Mt. Pleasant/Adams Morgan, 14th & Park, Shaw, Reed-Cooke, Tenley Circle, H St. NE, in Wards 1, 2, 3 an 6. This year-round program provided youth the opportunity to gain leadership skills through dance technique and performances, leadership and civic responsibility workshops and public service projects that provided direct services to its most marginal communities. Each season, the YLP culminated in their year-end performances, “Entre Dos Mundos”, involving hundreds of youth and families reflecting upon their cultural heritage and current sentiments of the community. Ten years later, the YLP’s produced over 100 successful graduates who in turn continue to give back to their community.

TDC’s offices were C/O the Office of the Consulate of El Salvador, WDC; the YLP housed at the Centro Nia; and the Company is in-residence at Joy of Motion Dance Center. TDC became a US Non-Profit 501c3 Institution in WDC in 1999. history4

TDC has come along way with their original roots from El Salvador. Today, TDC has reached a diverse audience of 85,000 throughout the US and Latin America, and has been presented by President Obama and the White House, The Kennedy Center, The Smithsonian Institution, The UN Commission for Refugees, Dance Place, Tribeca Center/NYC, The Central American Olympics, The Cleveland Clinic’s Arts & Medicine Institute, University of UNAM/Mexico City, Santa Clara, Georgetown University, among others. They have worked with musical prodigies, Gloria Estefan and Bobby McFerrin in the creation of original works. TDC has become distinguished for bringing international recognition to the Salvadoran community worldwide through quality concert dance programs and has also become the only successful US presenter of cultural exchange with El Salvador in concert dance for 16 years.

TDC has accomplished a lot and has had to face a lot since their inception, however, nothing was as challenging as 9/11. After surviving a civil war, crossing two continents, and making their new home in the US, in 2003 due to increased security measures, many original members were detained in El Salvador after returning for a cultural exchange, bringing TDC’s DC programs almost to a halt. Six years later, the situation was resolved and some original members were allowed to re-enter the USA; however, their absence took its toll. But meanwhile during their absence, Hisaka continued to work and embraced new members who shared the same vision as the organization, and once again its membership reflected their multi-cultural environment. As a result today, TDC has the privilege to work with artists from all over the world, from Cuba, Mexico, Columbia, Guyana, Hawaii, the Philippines, Australia, and continue to nurture some of DC’s greatest dance talent.

history6It has been through this 29 year evolution that in 2013 the Company once again is changing its name back to English, from TDC to DCCDT, reflecting its current residence. These artists come together with a common vision and aesthetic for dance; a commitment for social change through the arts; to cross all cultural barriers through their dance; to instill a sense of peace and hope, and to encourage people to move forward in their lives and personal struggles.

Hisaka is honored to have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of extraordinarily-gifted, ethnic artists. This turbhistory7ulent history is reflected in the Company’s rich and diverse repertory, as well as presenting the power, passion and poetry of its Latin American roots, with an added international flavor of its multi-cultural dance artists. Their mission and programs continue to grow through the work of their current DC members and continue to reflect TDC’s motto, created in San Salvador at the signing of Peace in l994, “The Company’s repertory reflects through dance the human spirit, and continues with the hopes to inspire in people the ability to dream!”

We thank our many sponsors, families, friends and volunteers who have supported us over many decades in both Central America and WDC. But most important, we thank you for supporting a very important cultural vision and for helping to build a more humane world: one with more peace, justice and democracy as created through the power of the arts.

Respectfully,

Miya Hisaka Silva, Founder/Artistic Director


Accomplishments:

The White House and President Obama’s Fiesta Latino Concerts.

Presented by The Kennedy Center, The Smithsonian Institution, Dance Place, Central American Olympics,
University of UNAM/Mexico City, Tribeca Center in NYC, The Cleveland Clinic’s Art & Medicine Institution,
Santa Clara, Georgetown University, The University of San Francisco, San Francisco’s Cowell Theater,
among other prestigious sites;

Completed tours and residencies to New York City, San Francisco, Cleveland and Central America and
receiving critical acclaim from the Washington Post, New York Times, Dance Magazine, La Prensa Graficia,
among other international press;

2009-2010:

A culmination of 16 successful consecutive years of Cultural Exchange with El Salvador;

Highlight performance at the White House with President Obama for “Fiesta Latino”;

Highlight performance at the Embassy of El Salvador in celebration of National Independence Day;

Expanded local Seasons at Dance Place, The Tivoli Theater and American Dance Institute;

Expanded performance sites to the University of MD/College Park, College of S. MD in La Platta, among others;

Groundbreaking work with the Cleveland Clinic’s Art & Medicine Clinic bringing innovative arts/healing programs to
4 million patient views and 38,000 affiliate doctors from Ohio to Abu Dhabi;

Site visits to El Salvador to work with new government officials to help to re-open doors for cultural exchanges
to the US;

Increased funding from 18 new institutions;

2006-2008:

Debut local season at Georgetown University’s New Gonda Theatre at its new 30 million dollar installation’s
Davis Performing Arts Center;

Continued expansion of local outreach program, “Llevando la Danza al Pueblo”, to Cardoza High, the Maret School,
among others;

Recipient of the University of San Francisco’s Social Justice and the Arts Jesuit Fellowship;

East Coast West Coast Performance Exchange with the City of San Rafael, Marin County and
The Cowell Theatre in San Francisco;

Expanded Youth Leadership and Civic Responsibility Program to the San Francisco Bay Area through the
generous support of the San Francisco Foundation, Marin Arts Council, and the Everloff Fund;

2002-2005:

Central American and Caribbean Olympics Game Commission, Opening Ceremony in El Salvador involving
4,000 athletes, 1,500 performing artists with over 25,000 spectators;

President of El Salvador and the Latin American Cultural Space of DC’s Award for Outstanding Community
Service to the District of Columbia;

The Smithsonian Institution’s Latino Initiatives and Education Program Commission of “Stabat Mater” – a dance
and video documentary in collaboration with 12 of Central America’s most renown human rights photographers;

Catholic University Dept. of Music and TDC’s collaboration in the production of “Agamemnon”;

Expanded performance sites to DC LatinoFest, UN Commission for Refugees, The Kennedy Center’s Millennium
Stage, the Publick Playhouse, The Theatre Project of Baltimore, among others;

Consolidation of the Youth Leadership and Civic Responsibility Program based at Calvary Bilingual Multicultural
Learning Center (Centro Nia) with over 80 Hispanic youth participants from Wards 1 and 2, generously sponsored
by the Meyer Foundation;

Consolidation of Outreach Program, “Llevando la Danza al Pueblo” in collaboration with DC Arts Collaborative,
The Smithsonian Institution, DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities. First time, bringing together of DC’s
most highly populated Hispanic schools to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month at the Smithsonian.
Partner schools included Oyster Bilingual, Ross, Fillmore, Adams, Brightwood, Walker Jones, Sacred Heart
School and Church, Bancroft, HD Cooke and the Studio School, among others;

1999-2002:

Recipient and winner of a worldwide competition involving 14 competing countries for what has now become
the world model youth leadership programs funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, and Humanistic
Institute for the Cooperation of Developing Countries (HIVOS). A first of its kind program involving dancers
and muralists and inner city youth gangs (mara gangs “13” and “MS”) in an effort to curb inner city
violence in El Salvador. This model transferred to DC in l999;

TDC has come a long way: with its roots from El Salvador, expanding to Washington, DC in l994, beginning with one performance at Dance Place, and today presenting over 55 performances/season, reaching a diverse audience of 75,000/year. Today, TDC is renowned for their powerful, passionate and elegant repertory reflecting a distinctive Central American aesthetic with an expressive and exuberant style. “Infused by the passion of living, the Company gives soulful meaning to the term expression dance.” (Washington Post) “With compelling simplicity, freshness, directness in dancing, powerfully in the moment…physically sumptuous…” (New York Times).

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TDC is a Resident Arts Partner at Joy of Motion Dance Center and is a Non-Profit 501c3 organization in the District of Columbia.
TDC is funded by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

©Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved. El Teatro de Danza Contemporanea de El Salvador.
Photography: Dave Cunningham www.enmotionphoto.com, Augusto Vasquez, Enoch Chan

 

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