The Union Project - SoCal

Social Media & Website Links
The Union Project Dance Company web:
Mariana Oliveira web:
Company Biography
The Union Project is a contemporary dance company that features the collaboration of contemporary dance and live music. The Union Project is a unique company because our creative process is truly a 3-way collaboration between the composer, choreographer, and dancers. The process begins by selecting a temporary musical piece on which the choreographer creates the basic movements. The dancers are video recorded during a rehearsal, and the composer then writes new music based on what he sees in the recording. The choreographer, along with the dancers’ collaboration, can then adapt to the new music. Thus the exchange continues, affording the opportunity to recreate and insert the dancers’ own ideas into the creative process. Since its founding in 2009 by the choreographer Mariana Oliveira, The Union Project has developed works in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (2011), choreographed by Mariana Oliveira and premiered in Miami, was based on the painting of same name by Pablo Picasso. Five dancers were guided by a 13 piece orchestra featuring original score by composer Michael O. Hurwitz. According to Sunpost Weekly Miami: “The choreography captured a wild and provocative essence” . In 2012, The Union Project premiered “Malemolência”, a fresh and fun take on the culture of Brazil’s Northeast region-- a culture that is almost unknown outside Brazil. For this project, the company not only collaborated with talented dancers and musicians, but also with Brazilian visual artist Henrique Souza, who crafted the stage’s background which illustrated the landscape of Brazil’s Northeast. One of our earlier projects, “Homo Sapiens vs. Homo Demens” (2010), a duet representing human duality, had the amazing opportunity to be performed at Lincoln Center in New York. “The Best Part of Yourself that You Don’t Know” (2009) was performed at Tribeca Arts Center and Judson Church. The goal of the company is to provide the audience with a multi-disciplinary experience, showcasing talented dancers and musicians, guided by original score and unusual themes. The company’s vision is to encourage collaboration between artists from diverse backgrounds.

Artist Biography
Mariana Oliveira is originally from Brazil, and she is the choreographer/artistic director of The Union Project Dance Company. She graduated from the Royal Academy School of London and has been an apprentice dancer at Diversions Modern Dance Company of Wales. She had the opportunity to study with Aszure Barton, Stephen Petronio, Brice Mousset and Philip Gardner. She has performed with Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami, Sao Paulo Dance Company (Brazil), Karen Peterson & Dancers (Miami) and Steps on Broadway Ensemble (NYC). She participated in many dance festivals such as Rio de Janeiro Festival, Brasilia International Festival and Joinville Dance Festival. She has been teaching and choreographing in Brazil, New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. Mariana recently won the World Dance Awards 2012 “People’s Choice” category.

Artist Statement
As a choreographer my goal is to explore dancers’ own way of moving and expressing, and sharing new experiences and ideas. Collaboration between other styles of art is vital to my creative process.

What do you hope to gain from this experience?
I’m a passionate young choreographer who lives for dance. As an emerging artist, the most important thing is to receive feedback about my new projects, not only from other artists involved in the dance community, but also non-artists. Meeting different people is a great experience.

Have you participated in Festivals before? If so, what worked and what didn't work for you? What would you like to see more or less of?
The Union Project was invited to perform in 2009 at the Avant Garde Dance Festival in New York City. The performance was held at the famous Judson Church, where all the major dance companies that are now well established have presented. It was a great opportunity and experience because everything was well organized and the staff was welcoming. The only thing missing was the presence of press. When artists present a new work it is important to have someone review it, not only to hear what people think about the work but also to help small companies build a press kit.

Description of the creative work they will be contributing
As an LA debut, Mariana Oliveira created “Fearing the Unknown”, a new work in progress that features the collaboration between contemporary dance and live music, with original score created by composer Michael O. Hurwitz. “Fearing the Unknown” will explore the fears and anxieties that people develop along their lives. Fear, irrational or not, paralyzes and blocks us from moving forward. In this new project, we will explore our most common fears and how to break free from them. The dancers will experiment with different movements, and create their own dance phrases to represent their private fears. Dancers are being thrown and caught constantly throughout the choreography, so they are made to trust their partners and let go of technical fears. The choreography challenges dancers to explore their own feelings and to move without fearing the unknown, allowing their bodies to experience different forms of movements.