We had the good fortune of connecting with Valeria Gonzalez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Valeria, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
There are many values that I take with me everywhere I go, especially for my choreographic processes, such as empathetic listening, authentic expression, liberation, respect, autonomy and honesty. The value that I believe is at the core of my heart is freedom of expression.
As I began my dance company VALLETO, I realized that what has been the most important factor about my process is allowing my dancers and my community to be fully self expressed.
In some of my past dance education experiences as a teenager, and in my twenties, I felt that my voice didn’t matter, and therefore I felt a lack of autonomy. This had me feeling stagnant, and in a place where I felt as though I couldn’t even move.
Throughout time I have come to realize that I have a voice that matters and that speaks to the female experience. My voice and my research as a Mexican American intersectional feminist educator and choreographer, focuses on the creation of safe spaces for the uninhibited self expression and autonomy of the human body. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are at the core of my creative practice and are most often a springboard for my choreographic and pedagogical ideologies.
VALLETO, acts as the conduit through which I both research my lived experience as a woman, and help others discover areas of themselves through the body that are in need of expression, healing, and physical and emotional release.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
In terms of my art life, for the past 8 years I have been the artistic director, producer and choreographer of VALLETO, a contemporary dance theater company that focuses on celebrating the divine feminine through dance,performances, collaboration, community projects, education, and activism. In that role, I produce evening-length performances, summer and winter intensives, public workshops, and other public events, directly coordinating dancers, videographers, photographers, costume designers, and lighting designers.
This involves budgeting, fundraising, scheduling, cross-functional collaboration, performance analysis, and more. Through this work I have enjoyed developing curricula and curating the intensives which enable students to improve their technique and study new modalities from a space of safety, authenticity and vulnerability.
In 2018 I earned my MFA in Dance and Pedagogy from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. During this time, I was immersed in discovering my purpose as an educator, choreographer and artist and subsequently created my thesis called “Regarding the Female Body, Sexuality and Identity in Dance.” In my thesis, I investigated the artistic process and ideals of several feminist choreographers and performance artists whose theatrical works are concerned with the female body, gender equality, identity, and sexual taboos. Some of them include: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Luciana Achugar, Mette Ingvarsten and Carolee Scheemann, which are also a big inspiration.
I am really passionate about creating performances and unique worlds that invite the audience to be fully in the present to later discover something new about themselves or the world. Maybe they excavated their memories, maybe they had a breakthrough, or even maybe they were extremely triggered; however, their minds opened a bit more.
I am proud to say that about my work, I am proud that I celebrate my Mexican roots. I have created artistic exchanges with Mexican educators and collaborated with Latinx artists for the culmination of my artistic projects, but what I am the most proud of is that VALLETO has become a platform for all humans to heal.
It wasn’t easy to get where I am, and it’s still not easy at all. I am still adapting to a new city and trying to put myself out there so I can meet more humans and artists. In the past one of the most challenging things was being in a relationship characterized by domestic violence, my artistic vision became rooted in my own lived experience as I lost and reestablished ownership over my body. Through the process of finding my individual and choreographic voice, I was able to empower dancers through collaboration and developed work rooted in community and safety. My choreographic work developed into topics on the shared experiences of women dealing with mental health and domestic violence issues.
VALLETO HEAL, a branch of VALLETO, is a community platform that invites humans from all backgrounds to connect, relate, and heal through movement, meditation, and community building. Through this initiative I have conducted several workshops including teaching movement and acting to children in low-income communities such as some in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
I wish to continue growing this beautiful community.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I have been in Miami for only 5 months and it has taken me some time to find my scene. For a week long trip I would recommend:
– Itamae, in the design district (the best sashimi and ceviche!)
– Sweet Liberty (Miami Beach)
– At the bar of PAO Faena. (South Beach)
Dive bar with cool 80’s music:
– Macs Club Deuce (Miami’s oldest bar)
– Dantes HiFi (Wynwood)
– Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami
Day drinking with cool live music:
– Center for Subtropical affairs.
– Pérez Art Museum Miami
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate this shoutout to my husband Cali for always being by my side and believing in me no matter what. And also to my bad ass VALLETO team: Nicole Gerkey, Anne Altmann, Alba Garcia, and Claire Sersun. VALLETO would not be what it is without them.
Milie Nelson Paul Gilmore Claire You Lalo Alvarez