Current Work

There I Go Rising (2017)

Choreography by Alicia Díaz. Text by Maya Angelou. Lighting Design by Michael Jarett. Costume Design by Alicia Díaz


portrait of an imagined deity – TRIO VERSION (2017)

Choreography by Alicia Díaz. Music by Sunshine Logroño in collaboration with Ivan Martínez. Scene Design by Josafath Reynoso. Lighting Design by Gretta Daughtrey. Costume Design by Johann Stegmeir.


Talking in Sicá (2016)

Choreography by Alicia Díaz. Percussion by Héctor “Coco” Barez


Deep Listening (2015)

Choreography by Alicia Díaz. Percussion by Héctor “Coco” Barez. Lighting Design by Michael Jarett. Costume Design by Alicia Díaz.


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by Alicia Díaz and Héctor “Coco” Barez

Movement Research at The Judson Church

February 8, 2016

[Movement Research at the Judson Church is a high visibility, low-tech forum on Monday nights throughout the fall and spring seasons. Movement Research at the Judson Church supports experiments in performance rather than finished products. Artists are selected by a rotating peer panel of artists.]

Artist Satement by Alicia Díaz

For the past year, I have been working with themes of cultural identity through an improvisation as performance practice with Puerto Rican percussionist Héctor “Coco” Barez. I have been interested in engaging with traditional Puerto Rican music and dance forms that are at once familiar and unknown to me. I am exploring a juncture between folklore and abstract contemporary dance.

Talking in Sicá is another installment in this investigation. Here I am exploring a particular rhythm in more depth. Sicá is one of the main rhythms of the oldest Puerto Rican music and dance form called bomba. This form, developed during times of slavery, is characterized by the improvisational dialogue between a solo dancer and the lead drummer. The dancer challenges the drummer to synchronize their improvised gestures/movements called piquetes. The sophisticated improvisation skills exercised in bomba, have historically served as an important avenue for self-expression in response to the pressures of systemic oppression. In these improvisations, dancers and musicians must be absolutely present and willing to “listen” closely to each other. They are also “listening deeply” to a shared cultural knowledge that provides them common vocabulary, both physical and auditory, and that connects them to ancient traditions. Within those traditions lie lessons on how to think quickly on your feet (figuratively and literally), how to allow intuition to lead while paying attention to very specific circumstances, how to communicate non-verbally, and how to recognize when it is time to move on. These lessons resonate with and inform my own improvisation practice.

Talking in Sicá is a structured improvisation in four parts and is anchored in 12 specific piquetes. The beginning references a traditional entrance into a bomba dance while at the same time establishes the beginning of the conversation between Barez and myself. The second section is a “back and forth” between dancer and musician in which we explore the rhythm and movement vocabulary in an abstract form—almost like trying to decipher a dream, something I know very well, but it’s hard to grasp and explain. The third section is an exchange in the traditional bomba style. Here I challenge Barez to match and accent my piquetes exactly. In the fourth and final section we open up the space for dancer and musician to experiment well outside the boundaries of the traditional form with both instrumentation and movement vocabulary while maintaining the integrity of the sicá rhythm at the center of our conversation.




Deep Listening (2015)

Alicia Díaz and Héctor “Coco” Barez



Contact: Alicia Díaz   917-915-6262

Agua Dulce Dance Theater, October 10th, 2015

The Pregones Theater 571-575 Walton Avenue, The Bronx, NY, 10451

$15 Tickets

Agua Dulce Dance Theater presents Deep Listening–an investigation of culture, memory, and identity through movement, music, and text.

Choreographers Alicia Díaz and Matthew Thornton present 3 works featuring Puerto Rican vocalist José Joaquín García and Puerto Rican percussionist Héctor “Coco” Barez with lighting design by Michael Jarett and ostume design by Isabela Tavares.

algún día…some day: A duet choreographed and performed by Díaz and Thornton with vocalist José Joaquín García, deals with the urgency of the present moment, a moment that does not exist. In a relationship there is only what we have been and what we will become.

one head many hats: Mixing spoken word, movement, and song, Matthew Thornton investigates personal and social histories dealing with his own identity as son, grandson, and father.

Deep Listening: Deep Listening is the result of an ongoing collaboration between Puerto Rican dance artist Alicia Díaz and Puerto Rican percussionist Héctor “Coco” Barez. The piece is an improvised conversation between movement and sound, between dancer and musician, and between memory and identity.


Alicia Díaz and Matthew Thornton co-founded Agua Dulce Dance Theater in New York City in 2006. The company creates work for concert dance, outdoor environments, multi-media, and site-specific projects. Agua Dulce has performed and taught in festivals, universities, colleges and high schools traveling to Mexico, Puerto Rico and across the U.S., including the 2006 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival Inside/Out Series.  Agua Dulce collaborated with choreographer Steven Iannacone in Desde el Jardín performed in the Alwin Nikolais Centennial Alumni Concert in NYC.  Their work The Seed and The Gardener, a film by KimSu Theiler was presented in the 2011 Dance Films @ The Flea Festival.  Outdoor video piece dust, created in collaboration with KimSu Theiler and Thayer Jonutz, was presented in the 2015 American College Dance Association. down by the riverside, i remember you, a film by Alicia Díaz, was one of two winners at the 2nd Annual Richmond Dance Festival Film Night. Agua Dulce opened for Grammy award winning musical sextet “eighth blackbird” with passing through, presented by the Modlin Center in 2013.

ALICIA DÍAZ  Originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Díaz is dance faculty at The University of Richmond and co-director of Agua Dulce Dance Theater (ADDT) with movement artist Matthew Thornton. She is also an M.F.A. candidate at The George Washington University, where she was awarded a University Fellowship.  Díaz has danced professionally with Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Donald Byrd/The Group, Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theater, Andanza: Compañía Puertorriqueña de Danza Contemporánea, Alice Farley Dance Theater, and Contemporary Motions. Her choreography has been presented in the United States, Latin America and Spain.  Recently, she has collaborated with choreographer Steven Iannacone and with Thayer Jonutz and Catch Me Dance Project in multimedia and site-specific projects. Most recently, she was a guest artist in the Maida Wither’s Dance Construction Company performing MindFluctuations at the Kennedy Center and the George Lisner Auditorium in Washington, D.C. Díaz has been collaborating with percussionist Héctor “Coco” Barez since December 2014.

MATTHEW THORNTON is a movement artist that combines dance, theater, somatic practice, and martial arts. Thornton performed internationally with Pilobolus Dance Theater in both concert dance and commercial work and has worked as a master teacher of the Pilobolus Method. Previous dance companies include Jody Oberfelder, Freespace Dance, Alice Farley Dance Theater, and Contemporary Motions. Matthew Thornton recently performed for Maida Wither’s Dance Construction Company at the Kennedy Center and the George Lisner Auditiorium premiering her new work Mindfluctuations. Matthew Thornton joined The University of Richmond’s faculty as Assistant Professor of Dance in Fall 2011 where he currently teaches Capoeira Angola, partnering techniques, and Chi-gung. He has choreographed two original works for University Dancers, and for UR theatre productions Trojan Women, Spring Awakening: the Musical, and the world premiere of Threshold. In the Faculty Movement Research Studio at the University of Richmond, Thornton hosts a monthly Richmond Contact Improvisation Jam, and a weekly Open Session for practitioners of Capoeira Angola. Previously Matthew Thornton served as Assistant Professor of Dance at Hope College, where he was Assistant Artistic Director of dANCE pROjECt founded by Steven Iannacone.

JOSÉ JOAQUÍN GARCÍA Puerto Rican director, composer, actor, singer, writer, and teaching artist. He studied Musical Theater Performance at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. José understudied Rubén Blades in Paul Simon’s The Capeman, on Broadway. He has also performed with The New Group (The Flatted Fifth), Repertorio Español, LaTea, The Public Theatre, and has worked extensively with Pregones Theater Company (The Red Rose with Danny Rivera, El Apagón, Medea with Lupita Ferrer). José has brought the New York Latino voice to the stage with Rubí Theater Company, where he directed Martín Espada’s Imagine the Angels of Bread (New York Hip Hop Theater Festival, New World Theater, MASS/Amherst) and works by Nicholasa Mohr’s The Bronx Remembered (Henry Street Settlement). With Rubí, José has appeared on several CD’s including Tanga Sweet by Mario Bauzá, and the Grammy winning album Catch That Train by Dan Zanes.

HÉCTOR “COCO” BAREZ Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, was a founding member and toured 7 years with the Grammy award-winning alternative Latin band Calle 13. Coco has also had the opportunity to record, collaborate and perform with a wide variety of Latin and World music artists including Bio Ritmo, Alma Tropicalia, Don Omar, Bacilos, Mana, Alejandro Sanz, Shakira, Ruben Blades, William Cepeda (Puerto Rican Folk Jazz), Cultura Profetica, Calma Carmona, Diana Fuentes, Jerry Rivera, Jerry Medina & La banda, Tego Calderon (Hip-Hop), Jossette Reily (Flamenco), and Furia Flamenca.   


Deep Listening is made possible in part by the generous support of The University of Richmond.

Past Dance Review: New Works at UR Captivate the Audience by GENE HARRIS

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