In honor of our People Issue, which will hit newsstands and computer screens November 25, Cultist proudly presents "100 Creatives," where we feature Miami's cultural superheroes in random order. Have suggestions for future profiles? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the whos and whys.
74. Ana Mendez
Ana Mendez is a one-woman pyro-technic show, detonating explosions as she dances across the stage. The 29-year-old Mendez has been a highlight in the most exciting South Florida productions since she moved to the area from Chicago in 2005. All eyes are on her petite but powerful frame, whether she is impersonating nature for Giovanni Luquini's Idalina, exposing her breasts in Miami Contemporary Dance Company's Tango Undressed, getting dumped into birthday cakes for Rosie Herrera's Various Stages of Drowning: A Cabaret, or swallowing a potato for Octavio Campos's Accelerate. At times it appears that it is not only her movement that mesmerizes the audience, but her raw emotion.
Yet she claims that dancerly virtuosity bores her. That's why, as a
choreographer, Mendez practices what she calls "non-dance" and prefers
to set her work on non-dancers. She had musicians flailing in her
break-out piece, Tribute: A Summoning, dedicated to the memory and
madness of British pop producer Joe Meek last February. Now she
is preparing a troupe of visual artists to take the stage for her
upcoming piece at the 2011 Here & Now Festival inspired by the work
of the late earth-work star, Ana Mendieta.
Mendez is happiest
collaborating with artists in other disciplines, which explains why she
has been creating her best work as part of three-year-old Psychic Youth,
Inc. Psychic Youth is helping bridge Miami's cultural subcultures by
bringing dance, music, and visual arts together in the same space. More
often than not, that's a gallery space, as when the group took up a
three-month residency at the De La Cruz Contemporary Art Space earlier
this year with the piece, Tri. Count on Mendez and her co-conspirators
to make the white cube quiver with life.
Follow Ana Mendez on
follow Psychic Youth on MySpace.
1. List five things that inspire you.
-Animals: For every piece, I assign an animal to what I'm doing and I take it from there, drawing on animal behavior.
moon cycle: I am aware of the moon cycle for different performances and
I use that to create rituals around what's going on with the moon and
-Yvonne Rainer's Trio A: It's the non-dance and I'm more
drawn right now to not dancing. I don't like to create dances that are
beautiful or perfect. It's just action.
-David Lynch: I'm inspired by
the music in his movies, by the way he works intuitively, and by the
fact that he does transcendental meditation.
rituals: A lot of my pieces are rituals that I take from Native American
practices and from different pagan rituals. I create my own rituals
based on what I've read and what I've participated in outside of my
2. What was your last big project?
Summoning. My birthday is in January and a friend gave me a big MP3 CD. I
was working my way through all the albums and about a month later, I
was listening to Joe Meek at work and I instantly texted my friend and
said, "Who is this?!"
He told me, "He's a producer from the '50s and '60s and he was crazy. He committed suicide."
I said, "Oh, I should do a séance performance."
was texting with him the entire day. Then I get into the car, and I
heard that it was Buddy Holly's death anniversary. It was February 3
[the anniversary of Meek's suicide as well]. It was crazy. We ended up
doing the show the next year on his death anniversary with musicians
dressed as all these Joe Meeks. We sampled his music and messed with it.
3. What's your next big project?
new performance piece for Miami Light Project's Here & Now 2011
based on the "Earth Body" sculptures and performances of Cuban artist
Ana Mendieta. Her performance pieces were all very ritualistic. I see
connections between her work and what I've been doing. When Psychic
Youth was in residency at de la Cruz for three months, I saw that Rosa
[de la Cruz] has a lot of Mendieta pieces there. We had talked about
doing a tribute to Ana Mendieta there, but that never happened. Then
Here & Now came around.
It's not a direct reference to her
work like the Meek show was to Joe Meek. I'm working with the female
visual artists. I find that the way their bodies interpret movement as
non-dancers is bizarre and beautiful. When I work with dancers, they
repeat back to me what I give them and it's perfect. I'm like, Ugh. It's
boring. I give non-dancers the steps and they do something crazy, even
though they think they're doing exactly what I asked them. I look at it
and I'm like: I couldn't have invented that.
4. Why do you do what you do?
do it to get lost in the work. It's like an exorcism. I like to have
the experience of creating and going through the performance. It's a big
ritual for me.
5. What's something you want Miami to know about you?
want audiences to know that the work is an entirely collaborative
process. I guide the situation and then I have these different people
say, "Oh, maybe we should have...alternative uses of light" or whatever.
All that comes from a group effort.
What's something you don't want Miami to know about you?
I do not want audiences to know about my magic tricks.
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The Creatives so far:
78. Agustina Woodgate
79. Tarell Alvin McCraney
80. Jennifer Kronenberg
81. Farley Aguilar
82. Colin Foord
83. Karelle Levy
84. Matt Gajewski
85. Antonia Wright
86. Allen Charles Klein
87. Christy Gast
88. Gustavo Matamoros
89. Shareen Rubiera-Sarwar
90. Kyle Trowbridge
91. Clifton Childree
92. Jessica Gross
93. Danny Brito
94. Nektar de Stagni
95. Anthony Spinello
96. Vanessa Garcia
97. Justin Long
98. Rosie Herrera
99. Rick Falcon
100. Ingrid B