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Gloria Contreras, Mexico's great choreographer, is celebrated with photo exhibit
Réquiem de Mozart.

LONG BEACH, CA.- The ARCOS Gallery—Art in Communities and Schools, 800 E. Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, CA, 90802 presents an exhibit of black/white photography illustrating Mexico’s most important choreographer Gloria Contreras, and her dance company Taller Coreografico de la UNAM. The exhibition remains on view through Sept 10, 2015.

Gloria Contreras is considered Mexico’s most important living choreographer. She is the founder and director of the ballet company, El Taller Coreografico de la UNAM established in Mexico City in 1970. Contreras has a long history of innovation and contribution to dance with over 300 original ballet programs that have been performed by not only the Taller but also other international dance companies such as the New York City Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Canada, among others. During her long tenure at the Taller Coreografico she has developed a dance culture that has been well documented by over 20 publications and several photographic exhibitions; the Taller’s archives are rich with documentary material.

Contreras’s early career was developed under the direction of George Balanchine, the founder and artistic director of the New York City Ballet. Contreras’s choreography, like Balanchine, pursues classic ballet in the abstract; a dance that is explicitly non-narrative. Her story telling is revealed more by the dancer’s emotional expression, speaking to the dilemmas and triumphs of the human condition and form. Contreras states, “The dancer needs to understand the music as if they were playing an instrument. We believe the fuller the dancer’s life, the greater the creative potential.”

The photo exhibit of 24 black and white photographs, Vivir Para Bailar, showcases some of the best photographs taken during the Taller’s history. Of special mention are the photographs by Francisco Murguia, famous dance photographer who recently died in Mexico City. The photos on view have been taken during live performances or rehearsals; none are posed or staged photos. The stage light conditions not only enhance the drama of the movement, but also emphasize the dancer’s prowess, poise and perfection of bodily form, and the choreographic rhythm directed by Contreras. Exhibit curator, Cynthia MacMullin invites the viewer, “to take special note of the compositions on the wall where each photograph compliments the other to reveal a pairing of masculine and feminine qualities revealed in the dancer’s emotional, physical, and almost ethereal forms.” Each photograph illustrates the figurative dynamism and discipline of the individual ballerina, her danseur and the elegant compositional language of movement.

Gregorio Luke is well-known for his Murals Under the Stars program whose repertoire of lectures has been presented in museums, cultural and community venues such as, The Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution, Georgetown University, Washington D.C.; at Harvard and Columbia Universities; and at Mexico’s, Palacio de Bellas Artes and National University UNAM, among others. Luke is the former Executive Director of the Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA), Long Beach, California (1999-2006); ); the Cultural Attaché of the Mexican Consulate, Los Angeles (1996-1999); and the First Secretary of the Mexican Embassy, Washington D.C. (1988-1996).

ARCOS Gallery—Art in Communities and Schools is located in the Villa Rivera Office of the Long Beach-based non-profit organization established by Gregorio Luke in 2014. ARCOS is dedicated to providing free public educational event lectures for all communities and audiences to learn more about the shared cultural and artistic practices of the Mexican, Mexican American, Latino and Anglo experience through the universal expression of world art, culture and history. ARCOS gallery and office is located at 800 East Ocean Blvd, Suite 104, Long Beach, CA 90803. The exhibition VIVIR PARA BAILAR is on view at ARCOS Gallery from July 25-Sept. 11, 2015.

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