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A saxophone and an accordion play in unison, one female dancer and two male dancers freeze in a different position while the rest of Parque Teniente continues with its regular busy life. A couple of seconds later the note of the saxophone changes an interval, the accordion follows half a beat behind, and the three dancers switch positions. Friends and family begin recording the performance that started with no announcement, a small crowd gathers as a cameraman films the project up close. As the music builds, the dancers switch positions more frequently and start to move to other areas of the park, where people are playing soccer, kids are riding bikes, and street vendors shout.


Mapping Tijuana

Contemporary Dance Intervention

Contemporary Dance Intervention

Some kids stop what they are doing and follow the dancers, laughing nervously not knowing what the strangers will do next. It all goes quiet and Martita “La Picchu” Abril, the female dancer, reaches under a bench for a three chime instrument that she hands to a 9-year-old girl. “Toca el instrumento con el palito,” she instructs the little girl. Three notes ring randomly as Martita dances solo. Her partners join in her dance with a long piece of elastic that ties them together as they dance their way through the park. The saxophone quickens up the pace until the dancers run away from the whole crowd, the saxophonist continues playing as he walks away.

“We do this for the kids, especially for those who never have access to any form of art and think that they are destined to do the same work their parents did.” Martita Abril, a graduate of SDSU dance program (2009), is the choreographer of this project she calls "Mapping." The saxophone was played by Basilio Ortiz from Spain and the accordion by Martita's mother, Martha Quiñones, who was playing an improvisational piece for the first time in her life.

“After graduating from SDSU I came to Tijuana because I feel more connected with the dancing scene in Tijuana. Lux Boreal, the contemporary dance company here, is a huge deal, everyone wants to study with them. But I still felt that I needed to grow as a dancer and I applied for a scholarship through FONCA (Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes) to go to study in New York. I studied in Dance New Amsterdam academy where I met Alvaro González, who is from Chile.” Dance New Amsterdam shut it's doors in 2014, Martita and Alvaro were the last generation there.

“Part of the scholarship's agreement was to do a public project. I chose a park in Brooklyn and I had the idea of using several sections of the park and advance through it. It sort of looked like a map, thus the name 'Mapping.' We traced the whole park with scales and choreograph the project. After the first one, they invited us to other events, like Sunset Park Dance Day, La Plaza Cultural Artist Festival in Manhattan, and Lumber Festival in Staten Island. Each space is different, so we trace different dances, but the idea remains the same. Matthew Armstrong, a fellow SDSU graduate joined us for 'Mapping Tijuana,' since our other dancer went home to Finland.”

They do another performance of "Mapping Tijuana" in the park. The second time through, more kids joined in, and some even danced with the crew. “Me gusta mas la música, pero también me gustaría ser bailarín,” says Noel, a 7-year-old who joined the performance and played the three chime instrument the second time through. After the performance, the dancers talk to the kids and show them dance moves and handstands.

Martita is back in New York City working on her dancing but hopes to come back in December to do more "Mapping" interventions in other public places in Tijuana or San Diego.

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