Program Type: 
José Navarrete and Violeta Luna

Atlacualo (The Ceasing of Water)

March 10, 2011 - March 12, 2011
YBCA Forum


World Premiere

"For the past few years my dance work has shifted in terms of its context and actions. There is a strong need to use spoken words, theater, movement and visual installation to create work that speaks to our time. I feel that is necessary to address the ecological disasters we are creating, and water has been at the top of my interest and preoccupation." José Navarrete on the making of Atlacualo.

San Francisco–based performance artist Violeta Luna and dancer/choreographer José Navarrete address pressing ecological issues around water rights and shortages in the premiere of their first collaborative piece, Atlacualo (The Ceasing of Water). Through the creation of ritualistic tableaus and a cast of characters that range from Aztec deities of water Tláloc and Chalchiuhtlicue to such contemporary figures as El Merolíco (Mexican street vendor) and Shaman Woman, Luna and Navarrete draw on the poetry and power of pre–Columbian myths to illustrate the importance of water to human survival and the sacred place it holds in our collective consciousness. In a multimedia production that combines contemporary dance, performance art, new music, visual art installation and video, Luna and Navarrete contrast the sacred role that water played in the mythology and culture of ancient peoples with the powerful, sought after commodity it has become today in the age of global warming, global economics and global warfare.


Atlacualo reinterprets ancient Mexican mythology and iconography to explore universal ecological issues of our time, particularly around water and water rights. Atlacualo is an evening length, multi–disciplinary work that marries dance, performance and visual arts.

Atlacualo is the product of the artistic encounter between two Mexican artists living in San Francisco, José Navarrete and Violeta Luna, and their collaboration with video/film artist Ricardo Rivera, music composer Javier Torres Maldonado, and visual artist Lauren Elder. Luna and Navarrete are interested in the socio–political impact of their work, as much as they are in forging new aesthetic values.

Violeta Luna and José Navarrete summon the figures of the Aztec god and goddess of water, Tláloc and Chalchiuhtlicue, as the central icons for the construction of their work. These deities will help them embody, metaphorically, the struggle of native peoples around the world against the ruling economic philosophies that have resulted in the propagation of rampant poverty and the destruction of primordial ecosystems.

Violeta Luna and José Navarrete are two Mexican artists in Diaspora, who are interested in the political impact of their work; they both carry a scope of experiences related to being immigrant artists making work in California. Violeta Luna’s creative background is in theater and performance art. Luna uses her body as a territory, map, a site from where she can approach, question and comment on social and political issues. Navarrete’s dance background has shaped his language as an independent artist. His work focuses on the meaning and the symbolic potential of space, movement and form, within the realities of the present time. Both Luna and Navarrete share an interest on the installation aspect of performance art, and in exploring the creation of new forms of narrative and experiences with the public.

Read José Navarrete’s blog posts during the creation of Atlacualo.

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  • José Navarrete and Violeta Luna: Atlacualo (The Ceasing of Water)
    Mar 10, 2011 8:00pm
    Mar 11, 2011 8:00pm
    Mar 12, 2011 8:00pm
    YBCA Forum
  • Flow
    Mar 19, 2011 12:00pm
    Screening Room
    FREE with RSVP

    By Irena Salina
    A discussion follows the screening.
    In conjunction with José Navarrete and Violeta Luna's Atlacualo (The Ceasing of Water), YBCA presents Irena Salina's critically acclaimed 2008 documentary, Flow, which exposes the global crisis around the privatization of the world’s dwindling water supply. A discussion, moderated by Debby Kajiyama, Director of navarrete x kajiyama Dance Theater, follows the screening. Join dancer/choreographer José Navarrete, Stephen Knight (Political Director, Save the Bay), and Dipti Bhatnagar (Northern California Program Director, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water) in a dynamic discussion about the future of water in the Bay Area and beyond.

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Curator Statement

I'm thrilled to commission and present the world premiere of Atlacualo (The Ceasing of Water) which is a new collaborative project between two performance artists who are immersed in the Bay Area arts scene, but whose identities and practices are connected to a global dialogue. Performance artist Violeta Luna and dancer/choreographer José Navarrete both share a vision to poetically and unabashedly explore the body as a platform to illuminate socio political issues. Atlacualo, which focuses attention on ecological issues, namely around water and water rights, is one of our cornerstone projects in the Big Idea Encounter: Engaging the Social Context.

With this new work, Violeta Luna and José Navarrete have embraced the collaborative creative process with a spirit of genuine inquiry and experimentation. Through the commissioning of new work, I look to support projects that embody YBCA values of innovation, visionary aesthetics, and bold ideas that are connected to the contemporary world. I look for those new works to be not only relevant, but to be forward thinking and provocative at the time of presentation. Clearly the current realities that are explored in Atlacualo are more relevant than ever, and remind us of the potent and vital intersection and dialogue between arts and activism.

Angela Mattox, Performing Arts Curator
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Artist Bio

Violeta Luna
Violeta Luna is a performance artist and actress whose work explores the relationship between theatre,
performance art and community engagement. Working within a multidimensional space that allows
for the crossing of aesthetic and conceptual borders, Luna uses her body as a territory to question and
comment on social and political phenomena. Born in Mexico City, she studied at El Centro Universitario
de Teatro, UNAM and La Casa del Teatro. She has performed and taught workshops extensively
throughout Latin America, Africa and USA. She is currently a Creative Capital Fellow and an associate artist of the San Francisco-based collectives La Pocha Nostra and Secos & Mojados.

José Navarrete
José Navarrete is a native of México City. He studied theater at the National Actors Association's
Institute Soler and dance at the National Institute of Fine Arts in México. José's choreographic work
has been presented by the Bay Area Dance Series, the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Dance Festival,
Summerfest, Theater Artaud, ODC Theater, and Dance Mission Theater. He has also received two
nominations for the Isadora Duncan award in choreography and performance. In 2004, he was awarded
a Bessie Schönberg Choreographers residency at The Yard and a Djerassi Resident Artist Program
fellowship. He has a B.A. in Anthropology from UC Berkeley, and an MFA in Dance from Mills College.
Navarrete choreographs and performs as part of Navarrete x Kajiyama Dance Company and also teaches
dance to youth in YBCA’s Young Artists at Work program.

YBCA's programs are made possible in part by:
The San Francisco Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
Koret Foundation
Adobe Foundation Fund

YBCA Performance 10–11 is made possible in part by:
The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Additional Funding for YBCA Performance 10–11:
Zellerbach Family Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, and Members of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts