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With funding from the City of Santa Monica's Community Access and Participation Grant, Suárez Dance Theater has commissioned choreographer/performer: Bernard Brown/ bbmoves, poet/songwriter: Jessa Calderon and dance group: Primera Generación Dance Collective to create films in collaboration with film-maker Leonardo Rivas. Each artist will highlight the site of a different history of Black, Native and Latinx people in Santa Monica, amplifying  stories that are often erased and ignored. 

They will be releasing one film a week online from their Instagram account  and on YouTube channel Fridays in April - starting April 16. The film series will culminate on Friday, May 7th @ 6pm with a virtual gathering to screen all the films and hear from the creative artists.  Register here for the May 7th event.

Encouraging further exploration and inquiry: 

Audiences will receive a map of where each film was made so they can take their own historical walking tour.  Each film will be accompanied by a list of resources for audiences of all ages to further understand and research.

The Films:

“low riting” :: Primera Generación Dance Collective (PGDC: Alfonso Cervera, Rosa Rodriguez-Frazier, Irvin Manuel Gonzalez, & Patricia “Patty” Huerta)

Inspired by the history of Westside Classics Car Club in Santa Monica, CA, "low riting," focuses on the mechanics behind sociality, embodying ways in which lowrider clubs construct legacies and cars that strengthen community, familia, and cultura. PGDC pays homage to the many processes involved in the development of lowrider clubs. From the hydraulics that bounce to oldies tunes to the familial grooving that takes place at gatherings, the dance film showcases the power behind the cars and people that maintain lowrider culture alive in LA.

“ leisure...” :: Bernard Brown/bbmoves

" leisure..." seeks to reinsert the Black, queer body into the public space of Santa Monica's historic Belmar Triangle community. This once vibrant African-American neighborhood will be enlivened, resurrecting ancestral spirits. Choreographer and arts activist Bernard Brown collaborates with composer DeFacto X to retrace and expose lineages of visibility, on the street, in front of God and on the shore.

“Before the Noise”  :: Jessa Calderon 

Filmed in Tongva park and the Santa Monica beach, Jessa shares an original poem that explores what is now and what once was. She was inspired by the question: What was it like before this area was called Santa Monica?  With this film she  aims to bring to light the Native peoples who were here before colonization, as well as knowing that they are still here.

The Artists

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Bernard Brown, Artistic Director of Bernard Brown/bbmoves, is an artist-citizen who situates his work at the intersection of blackness, belonging, and memory. In addition to presenting his choreography across the US and internationally, Brown has presented his scholarship on blackness, queerness, and post-modern dance at conferences across the U.S. and abroad. Recipient of the Westfield Emerging Artist and Lester Horton Awards, Brown has been featured in Dance Magazine, the New York Times and Los Angeles Times for his dance activism. He is Assistant Professor of Dance at Sacramento State University and a Certified Katherine Dunham Instructor Candidate. The LA Times has called him “…the incomparable Bernard Brown…”


Jessa Calderon is a Tongva and Chumash songwriter, poet, hip hop artist, performer, hypnotherapist, massage therapist, energy worker and does guided meditations. Jessa encourages our community and youth to find their healing mentally, physically and spiritually through her words, music and practices. Jessa has worked with community and youth from many Nations, helping them find themselves while helping them to feel good about themselves.

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Primera Generación Dance Collective (PGDC), formed by Alfonso Cervera, Rosa Rodriguez-Frazier, Irvin Manuel Gonzalez, and Patricia “Patty” Huerta, is an artivistx group based between Riverside and Los Angeles, CA. The collective’s work focuses on the visibilization of Mexican American corporeality, creativity, and potential through movement-based exploration, fusion, and performance. PGDC finds roots in eclectic, multilingual, Latinx aesthetics that are intermixed to investigate our conceptualization of desmadre. As a collective, they are also committed to centering BIPOC artistic experiences, working through curations and collaborations to highlight the imaginative potentials of underrepresented communities in the U.S. PGDC has presented work at Redcat (LA), Highways (LA), Pieter Performance Space (LA), HRLA (LA), FLACC (SF), UW-Whitewater (Wisconsin), UC Riverside (Riverside),  and BLAKTINX (LA & Arizona).


Leo Rivas teaches Video Production at A.B. Miller High School in Fontana, and Cinema Studies at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga. His industry background includes working as an Associate Producer for FOX Sports, as well as editing for music videos and short films.

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