La Luna Nueva: “Nuestros Cuentos” and “Mexico Lindo” with ¡Viva La Cultura!

La Luna Nueva: “Nuestros Cuentos” and “Mexico Lindo” with ¡Viva La Cultura!

• “Nuestros Cuentos (Our Stories)” with ¡Viva La Cultura! (Donna Oefinger, Andy Sterling, Rebecca Martínez)
One performance: 2 p.m. • Sunday Sept. 18, 2011 • $7 advance, $9 door for ages 5-12; $12 advance, $14 door for ages 13+ • Bilingual 
Tickets: 503-236-7253 or Online Box Office

In this interactive, dynamic and culturally rich presentation of folktales, folkloric dances and traditions of Africa, Mexico, Cuba and Brazil, three folkloric music, dance and storytelling artists pool their talents to explore the idea that no matter where we live, we can discover our own story. Children in the audience are invited to participate in the performance, becoming storytellers themselves through sound, Spanish words and song, costumes, percussive rhythms and movement! Ages 5+

• “Mexico Lindo” with ¡Viva la Cultura! (Joaquín López, Edna Vazquez, Rebecca Martínez)
One performance: 2 p.m. • Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011 • $7 advance, $9 door for ages 5-12; $12 advance, $14 door for ages 13+ • Bilingual
Tickets: 503-236-7253 or Online Box Office

Three artists of Mexican music, dance and theatre unite in the celebration of Mexican culture. This performance, in English and Spanish, highlights the music of Mexico through many songs known and loved by children and adults alike. Audiences are encouraged to celebrate their own cultures and communities and children are invited to dance and sing with the performers in this interactive performance. Ages5+

For more information, visit the Facebook page of Viva La Cultura.

¡Viva la Cultura! is a multi-cultural ensemble of artists that present folkloric dance, music and stories of the Americas to young audiences. Founded in 2002 by theatre artist Rebecca Martínez, dancer Donna Oefinger (Director Axé Didé Dance Company) and musician Andy Sterling (Lions of Batucada, MarchFourth Marching Band), the ensemble tours performances to schools, libraries, festivals and community events throughout Oregon, in addition to instructing numerous dance and music residencies in elementary and middle schools each year.

¡Viva la Cultura! is on the artist roster of Young Audiences of Oregon and SW Washington.

Rebecca Martínez works as an actor, director, singer, dancer and choreographer. A passionate believer in multicultural performance and community engagement, she founded Viva la Cultura, an ensemble of artists that performs dances, music and stories of the Americas for young audiences. Recently, she wrote and directed American Sueño and directed Oyá: Call the Storm, Sonia Flew and Ardiente Paciencia (Miracle Theatre). As a performer, Ms. Martínez has recently been seen in El Quijote (Miracle Theatre), Gossamer (Oregon Children’s Theatre), Chasing Empire’s Soul (Artists Repertory Theatre), Finding Penelope (Sojourn Theatre – featured in American Theatre Magazine July, 2011) and On the Table (Sojourn Theatre). Bilingual in English and Spanish, she has instructed numerous workshops and residencies in theatre and Latin American folkloric dance for Oregon Children’s Theatre, YMCA, SUN Schools, RACC, Multnomah County Libraries, Sojourn Theatre, Portland Center Stage and many public and private schools throughout the region. Ms. Martínez served as the Education and Outreach Director for Artists Rep from 2007–2009, and prior to this, taught as an Actor to Go for 5 seasons. Ms. Martínez has also instructed and performed internationally. She is an ensemble member of Sojourn Theatre, and was awarded a Drammy award for outstanding choreography for 7 Great Loves and for Outstanding Acting Ensemble for The War Project: 9 Acts of Determination (Sojourn Theatre).
Joaquin Lopez is an artist in Portland, Oregon. As a musician he writes and composes music in both Spanish and English. Currently, his deep love is in learning and performing the stories and songs of Mexican folklore and writing music inspired by it. Trained as an actor, he enjoys infusing this rich folklore with drama and imagination while giving light to his personal view of what it is to be Mexican-American in today’s world. Through tamale parties, he shares these stories and songs along with his own anecdotes about his unique experience of working alongside his family at La Bonita, a beautiful little Mexican taqueria in the heart of the Alberta Arts District, while party guests learn the art of making tamales by hand. His songs and stories not only share the landscape of his heart and soul, but they share with others the rich cultural heritage scribed by his ancestral and indigenous roots. Joaquin studied theater at Southern Oregon University, vocal performance at The Los Angeles Music Academy and has classically trained with Diane Harris. He has written and performed for DanceGatherer Dance Company, The Haven Project, Viva la Cultura, and Artists Rep’s Spotlight Program. In the fall of 2007, with Viva la Cultura, he co-write a touring show that featured songs of both Spanish and Mexican folklore that was seen throughout elementary and middle schools of Portland. As an actor he performed in the Oregon Children’s Theater production of Ferdinand the Bull as El Duque Dodo, in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s production of Blood Wedding as 2nd Young Man, with the Eugene Symphony reciting Tubby, The Tuba and in the popular holiday show An Evening of Flamenco and Ballads as Balladeer for the Sowelu Theater Ensemble. During the school year he teaches guitar and songwriting for grades 3rd through 12th throughout the Portland area and with the after school Sun Program and the I Had a Dream Foundation. He is also a private voice and songwriting teacher.
Donna Oefinger, owner of Center Space Studio in SE Portland, teaches Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian, Samba, and a class she co-created with her dance partner called Linage – a combination of movements from the African Diaspora and Popping. Donna has been a professional dance instructor and choreographer for over 10 years. As a teacher, Donna is known for her enthusiasm, passion and the respect she has for the origin of these dances. Her classes are a workout and challenge people of all levels of experience. As an artist she inspires and supports her students to further embody movement, not just imitate form. Donna has performed in a handful of groups as a dancer, director and percussionist for the past 12 years including Jujuba, The Lions of Batucada, Urban Ritual, and her group Axé Didé music and Dance Company. As the artistic director of Axé Didé Donna masterfully combines rhythms and dances mainly from Cuba and Brazil but also from the diverse lineages of the African Diaspora.
Andy Sterling is a versatile musician with an extensive knowledge of traditional and exotic folk instruments. He has played with many ensembles and dance companies, including the Lions of Batucada, Axé Didé, and MarchFourth Marching Band. 
Edna Vazquez grew up for 16 years in Jalisco where the soul of mariachi was born. At 17 she arrived in the U.S. and started a career that she wouldn’t have imagined in the music business. She found herself writing and performing music and songs that lift people’s souls. She went on to sing nationally on television shows and contests. She recently graduated from college with a major in Education, and is about to publish her first book of poems later this year.