The Sunflower Man: Performance, screening and conversation with Heryka Miranda and Luis Mendoza on dance, migration and healing
This free event is organised by the DSA and the CUJAH and will take place in studio 7.255 of Concordia's Dance Department (7th floor of JMSB) right before the final Studio 7 of the semester! It will open with the presentation of The Sunflower Man dance, a screening of a short documentary film by the same name and close with a Q&A with the artists.
The Sunflower Man is a collaborative duet created by Heryka Miranda and Luis Mendoza (bios listed below). It explores the life-cycle of sunflowers and its interrelationship to the elements - sun, wind, rain and earth - as witnessed by a migrant farm worker through dance and storytelling.
Through the method of land dance and creative expression, Mexican migrant farm worker Luis was able to find his voice and use dance rehearsals and public performance opportunities as forms to resist precarious working conditions and as a platform to increase migrant worker visibility and advocate for migrant justice.
JUAN 'LUIS' MENDOZA DE LA CRUZ is a Mexican migrant farm worker who has been working on Canadian farms for 29-years. For the past 12-years he has been working in St. Catharines, Ontario in the flower industry. He is a musician, visual artist, storyteller and emerging dancer who uses the arts as a tool to resist against precarious working conditions. He is known as 'The Sunflower Man' because of the respect, love and admiration that he has for the sunflowers and the knowledge that he has gained over the years being their caretaker. He collaborated with Heryka Miranda on co-creating a 15-minute dance honouring the sunflowers. He is featured in the short film 'The Sunflower Man' by Toronto-based, Colombian filmmaker Monica Gutierrez. A film that depicts the journey of taking 'The Sunflower Man' dance piece to Parliament Hill to bring visibility to migrant farm workers as a plea for migrant justice.
HERYKA MIRANDA is a Guatemalan US-American Mestiza (who lives and works in Ontario, Canada), a social change dance artist and cultural worker who uses Indigenous land dance methods and expressive arts therapeutic approaches in her work with vulnerable communities. Her graduate research study at Brock University in the Niagara Region explored the experiences of Mexican and Guatemalan migrant farm workers’ participation in experiential 'dance for relaxation' community art sessions. The aim of her study was to provide relief and comfort to feelings of isolation and homesickness - often experienced by the precariousness of migrant farm workers’ employment. Her work using land dance practices with Juan ‘Luis’ Mendoza de la Cruz, migrant farm worker is featured in ‘The Sunflower Man’a short documentary by Toronto-based, Colombian filmmaker Monica Gutierrez.
MONICA GUTIERREZ is a Toronto-based, Colombian director and visual artist. Monica’s work explores stories between people, the arts, social justice and the environment through documentary and experimental videos. She has directed Crude Gold (2015), Poetry Saved Our Lives (2016) and Raptors Amongst Us (2016), a TVO Short Doc semi-finalist broadcasted in 2016.
Thank you to FASA, LePARC, EAHR|Media and the Department of Art History for making this event possible!