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Agua Es Vida/ Water is Life 
A Celebration of Dance & Song from Mexico 

“Why is there fire in the woods? Where did the water go?” The world is out of balance, and we must work together to bring the world, and ourselves, back into balance. Our Indigenous storyteller, Cecilia, guides us on a journey that starts with the magical Danzante and leads to an impossible challenge. Or is it? All along the way dancers and musicians from all parts of Mexico bring their glorious traditions to life. Featuring dances from Veracruz, Guerrero, Michoacán, and more, Agua Es Vida is a dance and storytelling adventure that celebrates Mexican culture with ALEGRIA!

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Written by David Gonzalez with Cecilia Macuilxochitl Ortega

Dance & Music by Mexico Beyond Mariachi

Editing & Animation by Abiasahf Pineda

Illustrations by Alex Dempster

Virtual School Time | Virtual Family Matinee

About Agua Es Vida

DAVID GONZALEZ (PLAYWRIGHT, DIRECTOR) Storyteller/musician/poet/playwright David Gonzalez received the Lifetime Achievement Award from International Performing Arts for Youth, and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for his original production of “The Frog Bride”.  Mr. Gonzalez was named a Fellow of the Joseph Campbell Foundation, wrote Rise for Freedom!, an opera libretto commissioned by the Cincinnati Opera, and Mariel, winner of Macy’s “New Play Prize”.  His poetry has been featured at Lincoln Center's Out-of-Doors, Bill Moyers' Fooling with Words, and NPR's All Things Considered.   His many plays including The Boy Who Could Sing Pictures, Aesop Bops!, Double Crossed, As If The Past Were Listening, MytholoJazz, Maddog and Me, Wounded Splendor, Finding North, City of Dreams, Sofrito!, The Carnival of the Animals, The Man of the House, and Sleeping Beauty have been presented at many of the best performing arts centers, theaters, and festivals in the US and abroad. David was a featured performer at the National Storytelling Festival and received his doctorate from New York University's School of Education. Recent collaborations include Call Me By My Name with Jessye Norman, and Redemption/TIME with Jimmy Santiago Baca.

CECILIA MACUILXOCHITL ORTEGA (CO-CREATOR, ACTOR), a free-lance artist, dancer, choreographer, musician, artisan, community leader, mother and doula to her friends, was born in Martinez De la Torre, Veracruz-Mexico and arrived to the States at the age of 14. She resides in Newark NJ with her family and two cats where she loves to work with the land and grows some of her own food. She comes from a Totonaca Lineage and a family of Teachers. Mrs. Ortega proudly continues her family's legacy in education by designing and leading cultural outreach programs by teaching social studies through Mexican music and dance in NYC public schools in collaboration with City Lore. She has performed with Mexico Beyond Mariachi, Ballet Fiesta Mexicana, Arts for Change, BFMNY, Calpulli Danza Mexicana, and Mano a Mano. Currently she’s Dance Captain for Sugar Skull! A Dia de Muertos Musical Adventure. Her passion for teaching and intention of giving back to the community has opened the doors for many families to learn Traditional Mexican Folk Music & Dance, all free of charge. She is a proud advocate of Son Jarocho, Son Tixtleco and the Fandango tradition. Co-founder of Tepeyolohtli, Son Tixtleco; Founder of Tonalxochitl Danza Mexica, a community organization preserving Mexican indigenous ways and a member of the Native American Church. Sundancer and Danzante Mexica, which she calls a way of life!

ABIASAHF PINEDA (EDITOR, ANIMATOR) Animator and a/v professional born in Minatitlán, Veracruz, México to a bicultural family with strong and proud Oaxacan and Veracruzano roots. He is also a traditional poet, and has a 23 year trajectory with Son Jarocho. Abi is the musical director of the group Sontrack, and began his musical apprenticeship with the group Son como Son, and the group Los Negritos Son Jarocho, which he also co-founded. In 2019 he wrote, edited, mixed, and directed his first short film as his final project for his Diplomado de Cine awarded to him by the Foro del Cine Iberoamericano and the Universidad Veracruzana. The short was exhibited in Norway, and in International Festival of Veracruz and FICCPAZ. Abi has a degree in Ciencias de Comunicacion (equivalent of BS in Communications) from Facico UV.

ALEC DEMPSTER (ILLUSTRATOR) Alec Dempster was born in Mexico but spent his childhood and adolescence in Canada, England and France. After studying printmaking at York University he returned to Mexico in the late nineties. He lived in Tepoztlán, Santiago Tuxtla and settled in Xalapa for a decade. This is where he created his well-known 'Lotería' prints exploring the Huasteco and Jarocho cultures and produced 6 records of field recordings. In 2009 he returned to Toronto to focus on writing and illustration, and performance with Café Con Pan. In 2017 he returned to Mexico City. He is the author of five books: Cartas del Sotavento, Lotería Huasteca, Lotería Jarocha, La Jarana de Mario and Ni con pluma ni con letra. He has illustrated books of poetry by Irma Pineda, Hubert Matiùwáa, Hugo Plascencia and JonArno Lawson. Dempster has exhibited individually in Mexico, Canada, France, Spain and the United States. He has participated in group exhibitions in Germany, Poland, Estonia, Canada, the United States, Chile, Brazil, and Mexico. He curated the collective exhibition of prints 'Tierra herida - Printmaking of of the Americas' on the theme of mining with 45 artists from 20 countries. 

MEXICO BEYOND MARIACHI MEXICO BEYOND MARIACHI (MUSIC & DANCE) was founded in 2005 in New York City and was quickly established as one of the leading providers of Mexican performance. The company is a multi-cultural ensemble of professional musicians, actors, dancers, and teaching artists whose love of Mexican traditions and way of life shines bright in every performance. Our philosophy is rooted in the belief that art and culture are an integral part of the development of every individual’s outlook on life. Personal engagement, community experiences, and the celebration of commonality are themes Mexico Beyond Mariachi bring to our shows as well as to our extensive arts-in-education offerings (residencies, workshops, and lecture demonstrations). 



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