Adriana Castaños directs the Mexican contemporary dance troupe La Lágrima, making its New York debut in this season’s Latino Cultural Festival with the new Canciones Para el Camino (Songs for the Road), a half-hour duet she made collaboratively with David Barrón, her company’s former co-artistic director. They took inspiration from the tales of Tristan and Isolde, Beatrice and Dante, and other doomed lovers from history, opera, and literature. La Lágrima (which means “teardrop”) is based in Hermosillo, the capital of the Mexican state of Sonora, three hours from Nogales, Arizona, and about 1,250 miles north of Mexico City.
A native of Mexico City, the 47-year-old Castaños studied political science and started choreographing during the years she spent at Purdue in Indiana, while her late husband pursued an engineering degree. She traveled the state and the country, studying ballet, Limón and Horton modern techniques, and jazz. After dancing professionally in Mexico City, she returned to northern Mexico, where she has deep family roots.
“The northern part of Mexico is more Italian and French—the indigenous population is smaller. People expect us to look like stereotypical Mexicans, but we don’t,” she said by telephone from Hermosillo, days before tonight’s launch of Canciones. “When you do a premiere, it’s never finished.”
The very young composer Ramón Astrain started by writing musicals, and composed Canciones on a computer. “This is the first time I’ve worked with him on original music for a new piece. The detonator, the point of departure, was these tragic stories, but it’s really about the relationship David and I have, the way we think of love, the way we react to each other. . . . This is a reunion for us; we danced together for seven or eight years, in a group named Antares, and we left. A couple of years later, in 1997, later we founded La Lágrima.”
Two earlier works, Barrón’s Frágil Paraíso and the collaborative Azul Cobalto, complete the two Queens programs, sponsored by JPMorgan Chase. “We bring our climate and our geography”—the warm hues and wide open spaces of the Sonoran Desert—”to our choreography,” Castaños told the director of the QTIP festival. “We don’t feel crowded.”
Castaños and Barrón also offer a free contemporary dance workshop for professional dancers and choreographer and graduate dance students Tuesday, August 3, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at Topaz Arts, 55-03 39th Avenue in Woodside, Queens. Call 718-505-0440 or visit topazarts.org for complete information.