Flamboyan is working closely with twelve arts organizations on the island to preserve, amplify, and sustain the arts in Puerto Rico with an additional round of grantees to be announced this summer. This series will spotlight all twelve Arts Fund grantee organizations.
If someone pays a visit to one of the schools in San Juan located in Puerto Rico’s largest housing project, they may see dance instructors from Andanza practicing moves with the students. These children may have previously not even realized they could learn to dance well, but the love, the consistency, and faith the instructors demonstrate when teaching their students brings out their abilities. The Andanza team are just as excellent at dancing as they are teaching, demonstrating discipline, teamwork and artistry all at once. Under their expert training, a room full of students on a dance floor can turn into a show in just a few moments.
For the last twenty years, Andanza has contributed to the democratization of art and the development of Puerto Rico on a cultural, social, educational, economic, and spiritual level.
We asked Andanza a few questions about their organization. This is what they told us.
What’s the story behind the creation of Andanza?
Andanza is the result of a lifelong dream shared by various friends. In 1998, when Lolita Villanúa returned to the island after dancing contemporary dance for several years in Brazil, the only professional dance companies in Puerto Rico were practicing classical ballet. Lolita reached out to dancers Teresa Robles and Carlos Iván to share her aspiration of founding a contemporary dance group.
In June of 1999, the dancers from the professional company began their rehearsals, and in August, the doors of the school opened. Since then, the organization has been a continuous source of artistic offerings for the local audience. The organization has also offered steady employment to over 30 professionals who possess a wide range of qualifications.
What are the company’s main achievements?
Andanza has presented several original productions and unique initiatives like our Andanza en el Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, a weekend of performances at Christmastime that are free to the public. We have performed at festivals in Spain, Mexico, Martinique, Cuba, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., and the Hostos Center for the Arts and Culture in New York.
Andanza also carries out active social and pedagogical work that benefits over 600 students every week. This work includes classes in public schools for students of all ages and cultural programs in different areas in Puerto Rico. In 2012, the Juvenile Workshop was created, and it’s aimed at identifying gifted students to develop their talents to a professional level. Through the Danza con Andanza program, established in 2002, scholarships are granted to students of low-income backgrounds and weekly classes are offered to over 400 students in six different marginalized communities.
Andanza’s accomplishments and recognition include the first Emmy awarded to the television station WIPR for broadcasting the special Andanza in Color. In 2007 and 2012, the company published our book Andanza: imágenes y trayectoria, and País nuestro: crónicas puertorriqueñas de actualidad, respectively, written by six distinguished authors. In 2004, Andanza received the Honorary Mention of the Premio a la solidaridad by the Miranda Foundation. Currently, it is part of the Any Given Child initiative of the Kennedy Center in Puerto Rico alongside the Banco Popular Foundation.
In the aftermath of Hurricane María, the entity used dance as a tool to heal and inspire. Between November of 2017 and March of 2018, 530 workshops and seven youth performances were carried out in 19 communities across the island.
What was the reality of Andanza before receiving the Flamboyan Arts Fund grant?
Andanza had not previously received recurring grants. The organization had relied on the income generated from monthly dues from the dance school, ticket revenue from performances, fundraising, donations, and others. Due to the financial crisis on the island, which worsened after Hurricane María, the cuts in funding created a desolate environment for artistic institutions. Andanza was forced to make adjustments in employees’ salaries and benefits. Even after these changes, we found ourselves in a position where it did not have the resources to operate in the 2018-2019 year or to celebrate our 20th anniversary.
How are you using the funds you received?
The Flamboyan Arts Fund grant arrived when support was needed most. The funds are used to cover the necessary expenses to operate and carry out our different program offerings, by covering costs of the dancers, teachers, and other employees’ salaries, our monthly bills, rent of the headquarters, and production costs. We continue to offer daily classes and scholarships at our school. Additionally, we scaled our program Danza con Andanza by providing weekly workshops and taking participants to the theater. We will also be working on our second book and photographic album about our trajectory.
Lastly, the financial commitment of the Flamboyan Arts Fund for the next two years has been a great relief. It has allowed the organization to make commitments for the upcoming year and guarantee the jobs of those needed to fulfill these same commitments. Andanza is now looking towards the future with more hope and confidence than ever before, especially now that this donation has opened the doors for new relations with artists, entities, and the international media.
What do you think about this collaboration between Flamboyan Foundation, Lin-Manuel Miranda, his family and the producers of Hamilton to create this Fund to support arts and culture in Puerto Rico?
We admire the effort, creativity, generosity, and commitment of Lin-Manuel Miranda, his family, Flamboyan Foundation and the Hamilton musical producers. The creation of the Flamboyan Arts Fund is the first of its kind in the history of Puerto Rico. The idea of using art, and specifically a production as magnificent as Hamilton, to help highlight the importance of the arts is truly admirable. Additionally, the personal dedication on behalf of Lin-Manuel Miranda to rejoin and bolster the success of the production merits him the praise he received. We hope that other artists and both local and international entities will stand in solidarity with the cause so that the Flamboyan Arts Fund can continue to exist and benefit the cultural institutions and artists of Puerto Rico. We express all of our respect, admiration, and gratitude to them.
Look out next week for another opportunity to meet a Flamboyan Arts Fund inaugural grantee! Learn more about the Arts Fund @ http://www.flamboyanartsfund.org.
Rosiris Ramos Meléndez is the Communications Manager in our Puerto Rico office. Learn more about her at http://flamboyanfoundation.org/team_members/rosiris-a-ramos-melendez/.