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Creating a platform for Latino creatives in the Roaring Fork Valley

Gabriela Alvarez Espinoza plans for mobile stage, Spanish-language productions this summer

Dancer and performer Gabriela Alvarez Espinoza improvises a dance on the stage at Sopris Park in Carbondale.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Gabriela Alvarez Espinoza moved to Carbondale in 2016 and has worked with different arts organizations in the Roaring Fork Valley since then.

She is a new program developer at Voices, a local arts nonprofit, and is looking to recruit more Latino artists in the valley to come together and have the nonprofit be a platform for their work. This summer Voices will have a mobile stage, The ARTery, traveling throughout the valley bringing performances to various towns. In the fall, Espinoza plans to put together a theater production entirely in Spanish as well. Post Independent Reporter Jessica Peterson caught up with Espinoza about the work she’s doing to amplify the voices of local Latino creatives.

What has been your approach in trying to connect with Hispanic artists in our valley?

The youth project was bilingual — every time we tried to do it bilingual. This time we wanted to do more with professional creatives in the Latina community. Because it’s important that they also have their voices amplified. This tiny mobile is trying to reach people who are not going to the theater or these performances. This stage is coming and looking for you, as an audience but also is looking for creatives.



Dancer and performer Gabriela Alvarez Espinoza improvises a dance on the stage at Sopris Park in Carbondale.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

How would you describe the creative Latina community in the valley?

It’s plenty of tradition, you know, I could say like we have folklorico, some mariachis or some Mezcla Social which is more Latino movement. It’s rich but it’s kind of hidden. Sometimes people cannot feel it, because if you’re not belonging to that culture maybe you feel like it’s not for you, but actually it is. I think that’s why this is important to let the people know that the artistic Latina community is wanting to be seen.

You talk about how it’s kind of hidden, do you think that comes down to maybe the language barrier?

I feel like it could be the language barrier, absolutely. But also I think some other things that happen in the Latino community is … we are more in need of work which is paid. Sometimes in the artistic world you need to work a lot without being paid, because you need to have rehearsals or have time to do this, do that. And I feel like sometimes Latino people cannot do it so much because we need to work. My experience with some of the people who are artistic … that is what (I’ve) seen happening. If you’re working from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. you’re tired, you’re not thinking of creating something. It’s not that it’s hiding, the circumstances just aren’t appropriate.



Do you think the creative community in the valley can integrate a little bit more with Latina creatives and overcome those sorts of things?

I think so, yes. I think that is true also, for example the language barrier is also a thing because if you are not speaking that language or you are feeling uncomfortable speaking the language that you don’t speak as well, that’s for sure that you will not have the confidence. … That’s why I think this idea for theater in Spanish is pretty good. Sometimes, even I have words that I cannot understand, and I lose interest in seeing or listening to things I cannot understand.

On the flip side of it, for residents in the valley who are from a different background or don’t speak Spanish, but know these different outlets are coming together with your work. How do you think they can approach interacting with this kind of art from the Latina culture? Do you think there are still opportunities for them to come see it and appreciate it?

Yes, I think so. For me, performing arts or arts in general is much more of a culture also. It’s not just what you are seeing but also what you are living, what you are living in that moment with the people. Like seeing something happening. For me, it’s the experience. Why not (come), it’s an opportunity to hang out with other people.

Dancer and performer Gabriela Alvarez Espinoza improvises a dance on the stage at Sopris Park in Carbondale.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

In the press release Voices sent out I know it said the positions would be paid, do you know how many artists you’re looking to hire?

No, really we’re open. Because if it’s not for the ARTery for example, it could be for other projects. Like giving creativity workshops, doing this theater and Spanish project … or even like helping people to give their work exposure. We want it to be really a platform to creatives.

Is there anything else you’d like Latina creatives to know about the work you’re trying to do?

For me this is really a huge opportunity. Sometimes we are afraid to do new things or try to do something different. But I feel like this is a big opportunity and if you have a vision or something that you really want to talk about, to talk about it, to sing about it, paint about it – whatever you want to do, whatever you want to create. I think this is the best way to do it, through the arts with a crew that supports you to do it.

Reporter Jessica Peterson can be reached at 970-279-3462 or jpeterson@postindependent.com.


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