“We think of joy as something that people experience or feel when things are going well in their lives, but joy is actually a deeply internal birthright that everyone has,” says Ana Maria Alvarez, one of five contributing choreographers in Sarasota Contemporary Dance’s annual Dance Makers production. LA-based with her own contemporary dance company, Contra-Tiempo, Alvarez spent part of this past summer with SCD dancers, further developing her latest work—joyUS justUs. Inspired by communities of color in South Los Angeles, joyUs justUs celebrates the joyful expressions of the human spirit found even amid oppression and poverty, and identifies joy at the heart of its resistance. “When we move together, create together and connect with one another, we feel joy most present,” Alvarez says. “And joy is a powerful tool to create change. Joy is a radical act.”

CONTRA-TIEMPO PERFORMS JOY US JUST US. PHOTO BY STEVE WYLIE.