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The Transfigured Body (2003)

by SCHA-LA Thursday, Jul. 24, 2003 at 3:08 PM

The premiere performance will be held July 30th 7:00 at: Metropolitan Community Church, Los Angeles 8714 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood CA, 90069. Admission is free. A Requiem In Celebration of Gwen Araujo: The Transfigured Body (2003) is a multi-media performance piece celebrating the life of Gwen Araujo, a slain transgender teenager and other LBT individuals who have fallen victim to crimes of hate.

Featuring a music score by Christopher A. Flores, lyrics / videography by Adrian Ravarour, video art / lighting design by R. Aaron Ruiz and costumes by Gustavo Gonzalez, the work incorporates Aztec mythological themes and iconography, the cycle of birth, life, death, transcendence and rebirth in a spiritual journey of affirmation, identity and being. This music / video performance includes the participation of Maria Roman, Alexis Rivera, members of AguaLuna Dance Company and vocalist Joe Ponce.

The premiere performance will be held July 30th 7:00 at:
Metropolitan Community Church, Los Angeles
8714 Santa Monica Blvd.,
West Hollywood CA, 90069

Admission is free.

This event is co-sponsored by The City of West Hollywood and MCCLA.

The Transfigured Body
A Requiem In Celebration of Gwen Araujo

The work is a Requiem in Celebration of the life of Gwen Araujo, a slain teenager, and in memory of other young LGBT Victims of Hate Crimes who were killed due to their identities. Gwen Araujo, 17, a transgendered youth was murdered in October 2002 when it was discovered that she was biologically male. Fred A. Martinez, Jr., a two-spirited Navajo teenager, age 16, and Manuel Reyes Eredia also known as Alina Marie Barragan, age 19, met similar fates.

The text is loosely based upon the Requiem format and incorporates elements of Aztec mythology and folklore as many of these young victims descended from Latino/a heritage. The piece is universal, because all lives emerge from the same source and have the same soul. It opens with an invocation incorporating the Mexican myth of Xochiquetzal as the harbinger of the transformative process and the female consort of the transgendered person. It reflects the historical precedent of earlier people accepting and honoring their diversities. Gwen Araujo acknowledged and accepted her life in being honest and living life honestly. Such heinous Hate Crimes must not be tolerated; and, each victims bravery and heroism must not be forgotten.

The Requiem is a Celebration of Gwen and all LGBT youths who have died as victims of Hate Crimes. It is also a celebration of all individuals who were brave enough to realize and live their lives truthfully and honestly. The Transfigured Body is a modern requiem of five songs that celebrate the journey of self-discovery, realization and transcendence. The work is written from the perspective of the soul. The Requiem asks for society to recognize its LGBT children, to accept all people, and ends with the liberation of the soul in deaththe shedding of the flesh and absorption into the cosmic being in which we all exist and into which we all return.

-Adrian Ravarour

The Artists

Christopher A. Flores (Music / Direction / Visual Design) maintains a diverse background in the musical, theatrical and visual arts as a composer, sound and lighting designer, audio engineer and technician. Past music commissions include scores for Hamlet, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet and A Christmas Carol for Will & Company at Los Angeles Theatre Center, and Las Doradas Puertas del Infierno with Teatro Vivo for the Festival Internacional de la Raza, Juarez and Teatro Cominidad, Oaxaca. Sound designs include Danza Floricanto / USA and Kayamanan Ng Lahis From Acapulco To Manila and music direction for Maria Irene Fornes Sarita at Dramatic New Arts. Lighting designs include Oguris Stream part of the COLA 2000 Fellowship performances, In Between The Heartbeat with visual / performance artist Hirokazu Kosaka, Chisel-In with composer Wadada Leo Smith and Hae Kyung Lees Ancient Mariners which received an Outstanding Achievement Nomination for a Lester Horton Award in Lighting Design. Mr. Flores has provided technical support for The Getty Center, Mark Taper Forum, East West Players, The Rachel Rosenthal Company, Diavolo Dance Theatre, Ramaa Bharadvaj and Los Folkloristas. He is the Techncial Director for AguaLuna Dance Company and Pacifico Dance Company, a technician for The Norton Simon Museum of Art and is currently on staff as a Stage Manager for the Luckman Fine Arts Complex and Luckman Jazz Orchestra under the direction of composer / flautist James Newton. Recent musical compositions include The Songs of Xochipilli (1999-2000), Muses and Other Inspirations (2002), The Passion of Mark (2002), The Transfigured Body (2003) and The Expanse of Angels (2003) written in collaboration with choreographer / poet / spiritualist Adrian Ravarour.

Adrian Ravarour (Lyrics / Videography / Movement Design) is the author of nine books of poetry, two books on Energy Flow dance theory and a manual on the aesthetics of dance videography. He is listed in Cassells Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol and Spirit as a writer and creator of the EFD philosophy and system of arts which incorporates dance, writing, painting and videography as spiritual signifiers. Ministerial guidance and work as a staff member at Intersection Center for Religion and the Arts laid the philosophical groundwork for consciousness and art studies with Dr. Jose Arguelles. The interconnectedness of art and spirituality as animating factors is inherent in all of Mr. Ravarours work, and expressed in his doctoral dissertation on the Principles of Transformation and Transcendental Dance. His dance theories reflect geometric patterning and rhythms in their transformation of shape and form. In the medium of video and television he has been a director and focused upon the problem of accurately documenting dance choreography. His flowing camerawork has been instrumental in recording such dance luminaries as Bill T. Jones, Mark Morris, Paul Taylor, Royal Swedish Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Susan Marshall, Lyon Opera Ballet and as the official Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival videographer. Mr. Ravarour is the president of The Ruth St. Denis Foundation for Dance and a board member of the Lester Horton Dance Theatre Foundation. He holds two M.A. degrees in Theatre Arts, Dance and Video and a Ph.D. in Creative Arts and Dance. His spiritual philosophy is also apparent in his paintings which reflect a flow of line, rhythm and form in dynamic space.

R. Aaron Ruiz (Video Artist / Editing / Lighting Design) works across the fields of video / projection design and editing, lighting design and as a theatre technician. He is currently the lighting designer for Pacifico Dance Company and AguaLuna Dance Company, video engineer and master electrician for the Luckman Fine Arts Complex, a technician for The Norton Simon Museum of Art, and videographer / editor for San Pedro Ballet. Past projects include the video and production design for Danza Floricanto / USAs Hombre de Bronze and as film editor / photographer for the works of C. Jerry Vargas including Different Worlds and Between Heaven and Hell. Mr. Ruiz has also provided technical support for UCLAs Royce Hall, Freud Playhouse, Highways, and the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre and technical / production services for films including Dead Silence, Tomorrow Man, Amityville VI and Savage. He holds a B.A. in Television, Film and Broadcasting from California State University, Los Angeles.

Gustavo Gonzalez (Costume Design / Movement Design / Artistic Consultant) is the Founder and Artistic Director of AguaLuna Dance Company. A native of Guanajuato, Mexico, he was raised in Los Angeles and has trained Mexican folklore, ballet, jazz and modern styles and continues a life-long pursuit in dance. Mr. Gonzalez was a former dancer with Danza Floricanto / USA with whom he continues to work as a guest artist while presenting his own company and original choreographies at venues across Los Angeles.

Maria Louise Roman (Xochiquetzal) is a 33 year old Puerto Rican transgender mujer who currently serves as the Transgeneros Unidas / Trangenders United Program Manager at Bienestar Human Services, Inc. She triumphed over homelessness, drug abuse, transphobia, and violence acted on her to become a boisterous activist in the transgender justice and visibility movement. Over the past five years Maria has assisted in outreaching to and mobilizing the monolingual Spanish speaking transgender community that resides in the Hollywood area. She has passionately worked to educate and combat the medias constant misrepresentation of the transgender community. Her aspiration is to raise awareness on the hate crimes enacted against her community in hopes of getting the LBT community and allies involved.

Alexis Rivera (Gwen) is a Proud Queer Latina Transfeminist whose mission is to educate society on the diversity of the Transgender Community. Alexis is the case manager for the Transgender HARM Reduction Program at Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles, the Chair for The Transgender Youth Consortium, a member of the Adolescent HIV / AIDS Consortium, and holds a seat on the Los Angeles County HIV / AIDS Health Commission. She describes herself as an advocate, leader, educator and mentor to young transwomen. Her quote "The power of embracing ones self as TRANSGENDER will give you a sense of understanding ones self."

Jissel Luna and Eva Malgarejo / Members of AguaLuna Dance Company (The Two Gwens / Spirits) Since its inception is 1996 Gustavo Gonzalez has guided the AguaLuna Dance Company both as director and teacher, giving his dancers rigorous training in both folklorico and lyrical dance, and ultimately helping them to acquire the unique technique and style for which the company is known. With Gonzalezs guidance, this discipline and careful study of traditional as well as contemporary techniques translates into artistic freedom for the dancers and into a vibrant and challenging experience for the audience. The result is a lyrical fusion of Mexican heritage and mythology and a dance vocabulary made expressly for the Mexican-American body type (curvy, proportional and non-balletic in form). It is not correct however to label AguaLuna strictly as folklorico for they are directly contributing to the evolution and ongoing vitality of a changing and maturing form of dance relevant to a culture that is a fusion of both Mexico and America. AguaLuna is also distinct in that it specializes in original works, does not subscribe to any particular style or technique, and creates dances of universal appeal.
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