Tania Pérez-Salas is one of Mexico's noted contemporary choreographers, and her dance company, Tania Pérez-Salas Compañía de Danza, has graced stages from Kennedy Center to the Middle East. Missing in the company's 21-year history, however, is a performance in Los Angeles.
That will change Friday when Pérez-Salas begins a three-night stint at the Ahmanson Theatre. Audiences, she said, can expect an emotional experience that mixes drama and comedy as dancers perform two pieces, "Ex-stasis" and "Made in Mexico."
Pérez-Salas spoke with The Times about her company and its delayed debut in Los Angeles.
How would you describe your company and its style of dance?
I don't put my work in a frame, and a lot of artists don't like their work in a frame. You will see bodies and lines of the body that make it feel like they've been trained in classical ballet, but it's a contemporary, abstract language. It's not too intellectual or technical, though technique is present. It's more emotional than anything else, with a lot of communication with the audience. Even though the language is abstract, you can feel the emotion of the dancers because it's a body language that is passionate.
As an artist, what inspires you?
We artists tend to get inspired by what we live and when we get touched or connected with something that moves us. It inspires us in a very different way than other people. I remember reading "The Hours" by Michael Cunningham, and what I created from that, some would say, has nothing to do with the book. As an artist, you transform and have another perspective of things.
You have performed all over the world. Why will this be the first time in Los Angeles?
I am so excited to finally get to L.A. When you do a tour, the best theaters sometimes aren't available within that time period. I wanted to come to L.A., so we pursued this like an independent project. I asked my manager a year ago to make this happen.
Describe the pieces that will be performed here.
Like with the drug Ecstasy, "Ex-stasis" is about the mind letting itself go so the body can let itself go. The rhythm of life is supposed to be when the body is the master of the mind. I don't think humans can continue to go without hearing their bodies. It's also an analogy for technology and how it has been good or not good for our life. There is different music to go along with this like techno and blues.
The second piece, "Made in Mexico," or "Macho Man," came to me when I went to France, and for the first time in my life, I started to understand how important Mexican music (that I wasn't hearing in France) was. The piece is how I see Mexico and my culture. It involves the body language of Mexicans, which is very different than the body language of Americans or Canadians or Europeans. It also deals with the violence of gender and machismo and feminism. It's both funny and dramatic.
What do you hope Angelenos take from your show?
When I go to do something, like see a film or theater, I want to leave the theater feeling different from when I came. It's not about understanding. It's about emotion. It's a gift to the audience. I want them in L.A. to simply let go and be open to what they're going to see and let the dancers communicate their feelings with their dancing. I want the emotions to be tangible.
Tania Pérez-Salas Compañía de Danza
Where: Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday