For many Latinos, “getting in touch with your roots” means exploring the culture of your country of birth, or that of your parents. For dancer and choreographer Javier Dzul, it means going back further. Dzul was raised as a ritual dancer in a remote Mayan community in the jungles of southern Mexico. As a teenager, he left that community behind and eventually came to run his own modern dance company in New York City. Moving from the real jungle to the concrete jungle was a jarring experience, to say the least. In his own words, Dzul tells the remarkable story of how he adapted to a new world, and how he eventually came to embrace the rich culture of his old one again.
Photo courtesy of Matthew McMullen Smith
Javier Dzul is the artistic director for Dzul Dance, a New York City-based company that fuses sacred Mayan dance with contemporary styles. Formal dance training began at the Universidad de Veracruz at which time he also became a principal dancer with Ballet Nacional de Mexico and Ballet Folklorico de Mexico. Javier then received a scholarship to study at Ballet Nacional de Cuba where he remained until 1989. In 1989 Javier was awarded another scholarship by Martha Graham to study at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. Javier began choreographing and performing his own work in 1999. He established Dzul Dance in 2003. Photo courtesy of Acey Harper.
Marlon Bishop is a radio producer, writer, and reporter based in New York. His work is focused on music, Latin America, New York City and the arts, and has appeared in several public radio outlets such as WNYC News,Studio 360, The World and NPR News. He is an Associate Producer at Afropop Worldwide and a staff writer for MTV Iggy.