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74. Ana Mendez

​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 cultist@miaminewtimes.com with the whos and whys.

74. Ana Mendez
Courtesy of Ana Mendez

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

Facebook and

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.
-The

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

with myself.
-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.
-Native American

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

work.

2. What was your last big project?

Tribute: A

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."

I

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?

A

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?

I

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?

I

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.

--Celeste Fraser Deglado of Artburstmiami.com

The Creatives so far:

75. Michael McKeever
76. Diana Lozano
77. Ricardo Pau-Llosa

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


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