Noche Latina Benefit Fiesta, a fundraiser for Contra-Tiempo, is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, August 23rd, at Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice. Proceeds will benefit Contra-Tiempo’s programs in arts education, as well as programs for the artists in the company.

Contra-Tiempo is a “Los Angeles-based activist performance ensemble,” according to its Web site. Artistic director Ana Maria Alvarez says she founded the company as an offshoot of her thesis work while getting a master’s degree in choreography at UCLA.

Primarily salsa-based, the arts education programs combine abstract dance theater and performance issues such as immigration and racial tensions between the African American and Latino communities, she says.

After originally working with the Alhambra school district, Contra-Tiempo is expanding to at least six Los Angeles Unified School District campuses, with an integrated approach to create connections between academia and movement, Alvarez says.

“We’ve done a lot of work with third-graders and in their curriculum it’s all about community interdependence,” she says. “That ties nicely with our work, where we can use rueda, a Cuban dance form that’s done in a circle, as a beautiful metaphor for how communities can work together.”

The benefit is an opportunity for the dancers to share the work they do, Alvarez says. Recently returned from a ten-day tour, the company and select members will do excerpts of performances as well as a salsa class, and there will be a silent auction, raffle prizes and food and drink.

“I grew up the daughter of two labor union organizers, and the idea that art is separate from politics never made sense to me,” Alvarez says. “Art is about people, politics is about people, and as an artist it’s my responsibility to create on stage and that’s what inspires me about working with youth and creating new work.”

Advance tickets are available to purchase through www.brown papertickets.com/event/40165/.

Space is limited to 100 people, so Alvarez recommends purchasing in advance, though walk-ups will be accommodated if space allows.

“We depend on the support and belief in our work by the community, in order for us to grow and expand our programming,” she says.

Information, www.contra-tiem po.org/.

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