“Ms. Suarez has had considerable theater experience… [it] shows in the savvy staging of the piece and in the way Ms. Suarez uses the stage space…” — The New York Times
Christine Suarez is a Santa Monica-based choreographer, performer, educator, feminist and community activist. Born in Caracas, Venezuela and raised in Baton Rouge Louisiana, I made my first works of choreography in my backyard to the Grease soundtrack. Since then I have created seventeen evening-length dance-theater works, numerous site-specific and community-based dance events and dozens of dances for the theater and film. While living in New York City from 1994-2006, my work was presented at various venues including Danspace Project, P.S. 122, HERE, Joyce SoHo and Dixon Place. In 2003 I founded SuarezDanceTheater, a New York-based not-for-profit, ensemble of dancers, actors and musicians. I was an Artist in Residence at Tribeca Performing Arts Center from 2003-2006. My work has toured nationally and internationally to over 20 cities.
Since relocating to Los Angeles, I have been invigorated by making dances in unexpected places with unexpected people about unexpected subjects. The longer I create the more I believe in the power of the creative process and how this process can transform people, space and ideas. I am also always struck by how this process of creating creates community -a community among those who normally would not mix. Witnessing this time and time again is what keeps me going. Each new project evidences my faith in the collaborative process and belief that this generosity creates an intimate shared space with the viewer. I have created work in theaters, houses, parks, Churches, galleries, sidewalks and alleys. I have collaborated with multi-generational performers along with parents, children, veterans, health-care workers, and high school students. The subject matter has ranged from Cajun Louisiana to skateboarding, from female orgasm to motherhood.
Wet Spots (2008) was a site-specific performance about female orgasm that I created in collaboration with a multi-generational cast of women. The Los Angeles Times called it “ingeniously crafted…poignant…hilarious.” a beach dance (2009) was a community-based, guerilla-style performance that happened on the Santa Monica Beach and Santa Barbara South Beach. Wet Spots: Solo has toured to Tallinn, Estonia, Movement Research at Judson Church (New York City), The Garage (San Francisco), Emory University (Atlanta, GA) and The A.W.A.R.D. Show! (REDCAT).
From 2010-2016 I researched the subject of motherhood in libraries, rehearsal studios, classrooms, theaters, parks and over coffee in her real life for the past six years. She premiered MOTHER. (aka Mother. F*cker.) at Highway Performance Space in Santa Monica and Motion Pacific in Santa Cruz in 2012. As an extension of my creative process, I developed a ten-week residency with a school that supports pregnant or parenting teens. Together we created a work about their experiences, which they shared alongside Mother. In 2014 we premiered Mother.Redux. – a collaboration with an inter-disciplinary, inter-racial, and inter-cultural group of five women performing artists/mothers. For the final installment of my mother research, I created Mother.Father. a dance-theater work about family-making inspired by lesbian moms, gay dads and LGBTQ parents. We presented Mother.Father. at liberally religious institutions throughout Santa Monica/Los Angeles.
In 2017 I began more deeply experimenting with collaborating and connecting with audiences. Together with three dancers I created Family Dinner. The process started by co-hosting a series of home-hosted potluck dinners where participants will engage in a series of games and playful conversation in improvised situations around the Book of Ruth – a Biblical story of hope, survival and immigration. These conversations served as the foundation of the piece. The project culminated in performances at Santa Monica park recreational rooms. All performances had a post-show potluck as well.
Presently I am actively working on two on-going projects. One is the development of On Being American, a participatory dance-theater work that investigates how we think of, relate to, and understand what American citizenship signifies. On Being American premiered at the Miles Memorial Playhouse in 2017. In 2019 we partnered with two LAUSD high schools, Santa Monica School Alternative School House, Turning Point Housing and Wise & Healthy Aging offering workshops and performances on site. We have developed curriculum tailored for each site to engage in the theme in creative and expressive ways. I hopes to continue to partner with these schools and organizations for their upcoming 2019-2020 season – deepening connections with each community. The second project I am working on is continued performances of Mother.Father. The long-term goal is to take the show beyond the mostly welcoming communities into places that may find the material more challenging to their beliefs.
As an educator, I have worked at public schools all over the New York City and Los Angeles area. I have been a guest teacher at Emory University, Indiana University, Southeastern University of Louisiana, Louisiana State University California State University San Marcos and California State University Los Angeles. I hold an MFA in choreography from UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures Department and a BA in Theater and English Literature from Emory University. I have co-created a dance program for severely mentally ill veterans for The School for Better Living, a psycho-social research initiative a the West Los Angeles VA Hospital. I teach and train veterans and clinicians the Dance for Veterans curriculum throughout the VA system. I am currently an adjunct faculty at Santa Ana College.
I have been awarded grants from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Santa MonicaCultural Affairs, California Arts Council, Network Ensemble Theaters, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Puffin Foundation, Meet the Composer, the Association for Hispanic Arts, JP Morgan Chase Regrant, The Flourish Foundation, the Center for Cultural Innovation, the Field and the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center. I am honored to be a Hispanic Scholarship Fund/Cheech Marin Endowed Scholarship Scholar and recipient of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund McNamara Family Creative Arts Projects Grant.
Marie France (costume designer) began her career collaborating with musician-composer Prince, designing his features “Purple Rain” and “Under the Cherry Moon”, and his music videos. Marie France then went on to design other well-known features, such as: “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey,” “Tom and Huck,” “The Borrowers”,”Garfield”all directed by Peter Hewwitt. She also has worked with director Vondie Curtis Hall on “Waist Deep” and “Gridlock’d” and director Ernest Dickerson on “Bulletproof,”and “Never Die Alone.” Other credits include “Encino Man,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Coneheads”, “The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit”, “Black Knight”, “The Dangerous Life of Altar Boys” and “A Texas Funeral” among others. She also worked on the pilot for the hit series “Beverly Hills 90210” directed by Tim Hunter and on the pilots “Zip”and “Bad Mother’s Handbook” directed by Richard Shepard.
Tessa Blake (director) is a writer and director working in film, television, and theater. Tessa’s feature Five Wives, Three Secretaries and Me premiered at SXSW and was selected by the Academy as an Outstanding Contemporary Documentary. Her second film Project ALS won the Media That Matters award at the Human Rights Film Festival. She is currently directing a film for Google about women leaving prison and just completed a short action-comedy filmed in Hawaii.