Primera Generación Dance Collective performing "Nepantla" at The Odyssey. (Photo by Bobby Gordon)
February 16, 2023

Primera Generación Dance Collective to perform on Saturday 

The group, founded by UCR alumni, also brings in UCR, RCC, and A.B. Miller High School dancers. The event is free and open to the public

Author: Sandra Baltazar Martínez
February 16, 2023

In dance, embracing culture is just as important corporeal interpretation.

This week at UC Riverside, dance students have been learning precisely that with the help of Primera Generación Dance Collective’s artistic residency. The one-week programming is allowing UCR, Riverside City College, and Fontana’s A.B. Miller High School Dance and Conservatory students, to partake in master dance classes and offer a one-night performance that embraces both creative exploration and culture. The event is Saturday, February 18, at 5:30 p.m. at the Culver Center of the Arts in downtown Riverside. It is free and open to the public.

For the first time, UCR’s Department of Dance is working hand-in-hand with Primera Generación Dance Collective, a collaborative group formed by first generation Mexican American artists all of whom are also UCR alumni, to offer master classes for participants. The collaboration is designed to create a pipeline of opportunities for Inland Empire youth and to highlight the possibilities of pursuing an artistic career in dance. 

“We want to strengthen the relationships between dance institutions in the Inland Empire,” said Anthea Kraut, UCR’s Department of Dance interim chair. “It is especially important to us that Black and brown young people who might be the first in their families to attend college see themselves reflected in the profession of dance. We are also incredibly proud of the work Primera Generación Dance Collective is doing and are excited to expose IE students and the Riverside public to their artistry.” 

UCR, Primera Generación Dance Collective, and A.B. Miller staff also want these students’ families to recognize that dance can be a viable and meaningful career. This year’s participants were encouraged to invite their parents to watch the final performance, said Joel Mejía Smith, UCR associate professor. 

As first-generation college students, Primera Generación founders Alfonso Cervera, Rosa Rodriguez-Frazier, Irvin Manuel Gonzalez, and Patricia “Patty” Huerta, knew they needed to give back to the community. For the past seven years, they have spent time performing and creating sessions as well as dance workshops in various communities, including both the Riverside and Los Angeles region. 

This is the second year students from the three academic institutions have danced together. In April 2022 they held the inaugural “Celebrating our Constellation: UCR + RCC + AB Miller” event that offered master classes and a final showcase involving more than 40 dancers. The finale included heartfelt performances that forced the audience to imagine worlds involving social media, homelessness, culture, and love.  

“There has been a history of our students and faculty circulating these three institutions,” Rodriguez-Frazier, assistant professor of dance at RCC and co-director of the A.B. Miller High School Dance and Conservatory, said in a previous interview. The Conservatory of Dance is the only program of its type on a high school campus in the Inland Empire. “It made sense to work together and pull resources for the betterment of our students.” 


Date: Saturday, February 18, 5:30-7 p.m., followed by Q&A from 7-7:45 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m.

Tickets: The event is free, but reservations are encouraged.

Address: Culver Center of the Arts: 3824 Main Street in Riverside

Primera Generación Dance Collective performing "Nepantla" at The Odyssey. (Photo by Bobby Gordon)

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