Marielis Garcia

Live from New York: Marielis Garcia

In the spring of 2021, when the return of live performance was still a distant possibility, Ballet Hispánico began to gather its dancers together to start rehearsing again after the unprecedented shutdown. Along with revisiting its vast repertory of past work, the company also staked a firm claim on the future, restarting its Instituto Coreográfico with Marielis Garcia as its latest choreographer in residence, a position that afforded her funding, studio space, and access to the company's performers—all hard to come by in New York—to create a new work, "Temporal," from which she presented an excerpt at Manhattan's new riverfront Little Island that August as part of a program of all Latina dance makers. "They give you time and space and the dancers are generous as hell and super talented," she says of the Instituto, now in its tenth year. "It really felt like, beyond me just coming in and having ideas that I wanted to experiment with, the whole environment was set up so that everyone was experimenting together and really pushing the idea further."

Alongside her rising choreography career, Garcia also served as a dance artist in residence at the University of Maryland's School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, and she says her dual role as a freelance creator and an educator over the course of the pandemic reinforced for her the imperative need for increased funding and advocacy for dance. "Visual artists can work somewhat independently, whereas with dance it's really impossible to create on a single body," she explains, noting that most freelance performers have struggled with access to unemployment insurance and healthcare since long before Covid-19. "You really need community through a larger group of people. Even a cast of three or four, those are people's lives and their livelihoods, so [we need to be] able to support the makers and choreographers in supporting the dancers."

As these inequities have become ever more obvious with the dance world striving to get back on its feet, Garcia says she hopes the lessons we have learned over the past two years won't be forgotten so easily, and may even lead to necessary and widespread progress in the future. "We need healthcare, we need support in terms of taking class and space," she elaborates. "In a city like New York where space is a luxury, the one art that needs a lot of space is also the one art that doesn't get a lot of support or funding, especially on a freelance level. I think organizations are starting to really consider these dilemmas and proactively trying to make changes but there's been so many years of systemic incongruence that even small steps toward change feel really big right now."

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Marielis Garcia

Vintage dress, worn throughout, from Albright Fashion Library.

Marielis Garcia
Hair by Tina Outen at Streeters. Makeup by Andrew Colvin at Streeters. Set design by Jacob Burstein at MHS Artists. Photographer's assistant: Kyrre Kristoffersen. Stylist's assistants: Maria Montane and Malén Denis. Hairstylist's assistant: Amesha Alston. Makeup artist's assistant: Crisdanil Hidalgo. Set designer's assistant: Casilda Garcia Lopez. Digital technician: Leslie Knott. Production by Heather Robbins at CLM.

As a nonprofit arts and culture publication dedicated to educating, inspiring, and uplifting creatives, Cero Magazine depends on your donations to create stories like these. Please support our work here.