Piñata Dance Collective


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The Piñata Dance Collective celebrates our diverse heritages, our inclusive identities and our artistic innovations through multi-media contemporary dance performance and education.


Photo Credit: Su Pang, Dancer: Liz Duran Boubion



















“Piñata Dances confront identity, the impermanent nature of the body and offer an educational context that reveals the history and meaning of La Piñata as a breakthrough ritual.”

Artist Statement 

Continually framing my choreography are issues of identity, relationship, ecology and sustainability. Destabilizing assumptions related to race, class, gender, sexuality, body type or religion, by never accepting them as given or universal, I look for ways to interrupt physical and mental patterns of oppression to generate new movement in our individual bodies and collective unconscious. Accessing site-specificity, creating collaborative scores, including audience participation or creating a ceremonial context can serve to build community and to innovate as artists.  With my technical experience in contemporary dance, my background in Expressive Arts Therapy, and my graduate work in Interdisciplinary dance, I maintain my commitment to the coalescence of performance, somatic therapy, community and environmental wellness through the arts.

Like a Piñata, I am constantly re-creating myself, grappling with impermanence and scrambling to gather the goodies from within. See quick video montage.



Piñata Dance Collective has been exploring the impermanent nature of the body and the sustainability of temporal art forms through deconstructed Piñata rituals since 2011.  Placing value on identity, ecology and cultural relevance is making a bridge between several communities for the 2nd generation, Chicana and queer choreographer, Elizabeth Duran Boubion, MFA, RSMT.   Boubion has a BA in Dance, an MFA in Interdiciplinary Art and is a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist. She has worked with over 40 artists and collaborators in 15 Piñata Breakthrough performances in the US and Mexico after creating an ancestral production called “Maclovia’s Birds”.

Since graduating from the Tamalpa Institute in 2007, Boubion has had 7 artist residencies in the US and Mexico, was featured in SF Arts Monthly in 2015, was published in an interview for Dancers Group Magazine in 2014, and has aired on KPFA’s Cronica de La Raza.  She has performed in several venues and festivals including: Zaccho Theater/Mbongui Square, CSU East Bay/Queer Dance Festival and Indigenous Dance Festival, The Garage, Dance Mission Theater, Berkeley Art Museum of Pacific Film and Archives/SALTA, Safehouse Arts, The Central Valley Dance Festival, SF Queer Arts Festival/Mixed Blended & Whole, and won a choreographer’s award at ODC’s “Take Five”.

After being chosen among 160 applicants for an artist residency, in Jalisco, Mexico in 2014, Boubion invited musical collaborators, ALARIETE who participated in her 2 week performance intensive “Temporario Contemporanéa” to inaugurate the first annual ¡FLACC! Festival of Latin American Contemporary Choreographers (see www.flaccdanza.org) celebrating 8 contemporary choreographers of the Latino Diaspora at the Temescal Art Center in Oakland, Ca. The artists included: ALARIETE, Detour Dance, Natta Haotzima, Diana Lara, Zari Le’on, Piñata Dance Collective, Rogelio Lopez and Davalos Dance. See 2014 video excerpts. A year after the festival, Boubion was invited back to Jalisco to choreograph 2 duets at Galeria Ajolote, and lead a three-day residential workshop titled Eco-Somatic Integration.

In 2015, PDC partnered with Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in San Francisco for the 2nd Annual ¡FLACC! creating 3 evenings of dance that featured 7 Dance Companies: David Herrera Performance Project, Zari Le’On Dance Theater, Davalos Dance, Piñata Dance Collective, Rogelio Lopez and Dancers, Juan Aldape and Detour Dance.                             See 2015 video excerpts

¡FLACC! 2015 also hosted a Friday teaching series at MCCLA that included 8 master classes with: Arturo Fernandez(Lines Contemporary Ballet), Diana Lara(Body Mind Centering), Emmeline Gonzales-Beban(Ballet Folklorico), Zari Le’On(Contemporary Vernacular), Rogelio Lopez (Modern-Release), CatherineMarie Davalos(Modern Dance), Elizabeth Duran Boubion (Contact Improvisation and Modern-Release).  Also curated by Elizabeth Duran Boubion.

As part of National Latino History Month in September 2015, a panel discussion for ¡FLACC! choreographers was hosted by the Center for Art and Social Justice at California Institute of Integral Studies, moderated by ¡FLACC! choreographer, Juan Manuel Aldape, PhD Candidate in Performance Studies at UC Berkeley.

This year, ¡FLACC! 2016 will celebrate 15 choreographers at Dance Mission Theater and hold a second panel discussion at UC Berkeley moderated by Juan Aldape.

Por Que La Piñata?

Clay vessel by Liz Boubion and Sculptor, Meryl Juniper

The Piñata holds ancient and contemporary implications of celebration, loss and regeneration for Latina/o culture and the world at large.  Originally, before it was the paper mache sculpture filled with candy that children smash open with a blindfold and stick, the Piñata was birthed in China as a New Year celebration. During his travels in China, Marco Polo gathered it up and brought it back to Italy where it was appropriated to Catholicism representing 7 deadly sins. From Italy it swung to the Spaniards who colonized Mexico.

The Aztecs had their own ritual during the winter solstice that included the breaking open of a clay pot filled with water as a prayer for the return of the Sun God, “Huitzilopochtli”-(“Hummingbird on the Left”). In essence, it was a prayer for sustainability which is relevant for our precarious world today.  Now, Piñata is used for many occasions including birthday parties which personalizes the game, singing “Dale Dale Dale, no pierdas el tino, porque si lo pierdes, pierdes el camino…”(Hit it Hit it Hit it, don’t loose your aim, if you loose it, you loose your way”).

As a choreographer, Piñata has a changing score. It is a symbol of impermanence and the temporary nature of Dance. “Piñata” deconstructed, has been performed in several venues as a multi-media stage piece, an outdoor ritual, a gallery installation, or a public workshop that includes an interactive performance with the audience. As performers, we embody the physical and emotional imagery of Piñata and work symbolically with what is inside shaping our movement and sound. The mythology changes with each performer and each setting.

The Piñata Dance Collective is an international group of artists and educators who are committed to sustainability in the arts through performances, education, environmental justice and community outreach. It has formed as a personal celebration of my mixed race Chicana heritage, a response to the ending cycle of the 2012 Mayan Synchronometer and as a revolutionary dance for healing the personal and collective spirit culture and ecology through the arts.

Liz Boubion, Afia Walking Tree, Diana Lara, Meryl Juniper, Nao Kobayashi, Bricine Mitchel, Carter Brooks, Maica Folch, Dominique Nigro, Jeanette Male, Sophie Stanley, Cuauhtemoc, Karla Avila, Carter Brooks, Katherine He, Emmeline Gonzales-Beban, Liz Anders, and other artists have collaborated in an embodied deconstruction of the Piñata Ritual based on a relationship to the natural world, the female body politic, or the Piñata’s metaphoric or cultural identity.

Like the fore mothers of Modern Dance, from my point of view, performance art is always a ceremony, no matter the subject or content, by way of its inherently social nature. When we gather, it serves the community as an embodied, agreed upon center in time and space with hours of preparation, reflection and experimentation. My desire is to “recenter” the arts and art education as a pinnacle value for American culture that can replace football and consumerism which is where the main stream looks for connection and will pay any amount of money to be included.

From an ecological  perspective, artists are the mushrooms of the planet. We are the immune system of culture that absorbs the toxins of society transforming them into myths, beauty, nourishment and medicine. Just as the Piñata has survived an agonizing history of colonization and appropriation, from China, to Italy, to Spain, to Mexico, and all Latin American countries, it still hangs in back yards all over the world as a celebration of life, beauty, abundance, a symbol for fertility, for “breaking through” something, and as an outlet for our creative and rebellious spirits.

Donations: Your monetary contributions will support our work by paying for rehearsal space, theater space, artists fees, tech crew fees, production staff, stage materials, equipment and costuming.

See Videos: http://lizboubion.org/?page_id=263