Areytos Performance Works creates innovative contemporary dance-theatre rooted in Caribbean traditions and the principles of social justice. By working at the crossroads of African-Caribbean forms, contemporary modern dance and performance art we generate original multifaceted productions that are informed by often untold histories and current community events. Collaborations in the visual and performing arts help define our approach to the creative process. Transformative arts education drive our community based projects. Areytos Performance Works entertains, provokes and pushes the limits of any stage.
Areytos Performance Works is a dance theater company working at the crossroads of performance art, African-Caribbean dances, contemporary modern dance, collaboration and stage environments. APW began in the Manhattan neighborhoods of Harlem and Washington Heights as a multi-disciplinary arts organization dedicated to creating community-based projects that privelege Africanist aesthetics, historical research and artistic risk-taking in the Caribbean community. Areytos is a variation on the Taino/Arawak word areitos, -a days long community ritual gathering including dance, music and art. In 2004 Areytos received a grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council for Nuestra Cultura/Our Culture a community celebration featuring presentations by Afro-Dominican artists as well as artwork created by ten teenagers who participated in a series of related workshops about Dominican history, culture and identity. Areytos went on to create a Bronx Action Lab project TRANSAJE (please see project descriptions). In the Spring of 2008 Areytos partnered with the Bronx Museum of the Arts and Citizen’s Advice Bureau to create Salsa Profunda, a series of workshops in visual art and dance for elementary and high school students, that received support from the New York City Department of Youth and Cultural Development. The residency culminated in a multimedia performance exhibition at the Bronx Museum, that featured the student performers and professional dancers with live Cuban music by Grupo Irek.
Sita Frederick (Artistic Director, Areytos Performance Works) is a choreographer, performer, arts administrator and teacher based in New York City. After graduating from Swarthmore College, Frederick performed with Bessie-winning choreographers Jawole Willa Jo Zollar of Urban Bush Women and Merian Soto, co-founder of Pepatian. In 2003, Frederick and visual artist José Miguel Ortiz co-founded Areytos Performance Works, a multi-disciplinary performance company that presents innovative contemporary dance-theatre rooted in Caribbean traditions and the principles of social justice. From 2007-2010 Frederick produced a body of work reinterpreting Afro-Cuban, Salsa and modern in "Maletumba II," "What Do You Dance On?", "Sirenas" and "Bembé, Salon, y Calle". Frederick’s newest series explores the convergence of Gaga and Guloya, two African based Dominican traditions and the politics of black identity in the Dominican Diaspora, with site specific "Comparsa G" and work-in-progress "Batey y Macorix: Senderos de Carbón/Carbon Pathways" presented by the Hostos Center for the Arts and Culture with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation’s NYC Cultural Innovation Fund. Frederick has received support from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, Bronx Action Lab, Puffin Foundation, Aaron Davis Hall’s Fund for New Work, Harlem Dance Foundation, and Swarthmore College. Presenters of her work include Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center/Kumble Theater, Aaron Davis Hall/Harlem Stages, Pregones Theater, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, Pepatian@Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out, Congress on Research in Dance, University of Texas in Austin, Cornell University, Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, among others. In May of 2012, Frederick completed a Master of Fine Arts in New Media Art and Performance at Long Island University, Brooklyn.
My purpose is not merely to entertain, but to inform, challenge, inspire, and stir. I usually begin with an idea or issue that I want to explore with and through the body, creating multi-disciplinary, social-political work that humors and/or provokes. Movement is my home while text, multi-media set design, and sound are other modes I use to contextualize and layer the body in performance. With each project, I listen for the appropriate tension and integration among these elements. I embrace crosspollination, rhythm, improvisation, partnering and my dancers’ genres to re-interpret and re-envision traditional and contemporary dance forms. I am drawn to the African and popular dances and music of Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico but I also employ minimalist gesture developed from individual experience and modern dance movement. I design performance for the stage as well as alternative venues such as storefronts, streets and galleries.
Through art-making I seek transformation for myself and for my community. I am committed to collaboration and the constant negotiation required in creating participatory work guided by strong leadership. Just as learning is fundamental to my creative process, teaching dance and composition literally and figuratively feeds my art. I learn from and with the communities in which I teach. Through arts and education in local settings and beyond, I cultivate appreciation for Caribbean traditions, critical consciousness, imagination, and progressive dialogue.
- Repertory & Lecture-Demonstrations
- Afro-Dominican, Haitian and Afro-Cuban dance
- Salsa (both On2 and Cuban Style Son/Casino)
- Modern Dance
- Voice and movement for actors
- Creative Movement for arts integration in the classroom
- Visual Arts
José Miguel Ortiz (Co-Founder, Set Designer) was born in Dominican Republic and raised in New York City where he received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts. Ortiz is a painter, arts educator and multi-media artist committed to connecting art with our everyday world. His works layer symbols and myths to create possibilities for connection between all peoples and cultures; to achieve this effect, he uses a mixture of various media: photography, printmaking, collage and paint. In 2005 Ortiz was selected to participate in the NYC MTA: Arts for Transit Project in the Bronx. Ortiz' work has also been exhibited in many galleries on the east coast such as Cultural Fine Art Gallery, Fortuna Gallery, Lehman College, and Temple University. Ortiz is on the Board of Directors for Point-of-Encounter, a volunteer outreach organization that supports community groups with health and art-making projects in Brazil. Ortiz spent nine years as the Program Director and Art Educator for The Children's Art Carnival, a nationally recognized award-winning arts education organization in Harlem. He has also been a Visual Art Instructor for the Joan Mitchell Foundation for the last 8 years and conducted professional development workshops in St. Vincent, W.I. for Youlou Arts Foundation, an International Arts organization introducing visual arts into the public school curriculum on the island. Ortiz is currently the Professional Development Program Coordinator for the Joan Mitchell Foundation.
Leticia Peguero (Exective Director, Performer) was born and raised in New York City by her Puerto Rican family. She is an advocate, educator and artistic collaborator. Peguero has spent a good portion of the past 12 years learning (and unlearning) the nuances of Salsa/Mambo and dances of the African Diaspora. She has performed with New York-based Mambo dance companies Dulce Bembé and Mambo 101 as well as with world renowned musicians such as El Gran Combo, Eddie Palmieri, Ray Barretto and Orquesta Fajardo in Charagueando (2004). Peguero's artistic practice is a cross pollination of genres and thus her credits include artists such as Jesus Aponte, Arthur Aviles Typical Theatre, Sita Frederick and most recently with Puerto Rican Bomba extraordinaires, Los Pleneros de La 21 at their student showcase. Her work with Areytos is multifaceted and her roles varied as she serves as performer, collaborator and producer. She approaches her work from a strengths-based social justice perspective and uses her skills in organizational capacity building and program design to develop Areytos’ ability to create works that inspire and challenge. Peguero is currently the Deputy Director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships where she oversees grantmaking and capacity building efforts for community based organizations that are at the intersection of social determinants, social justice and health.