What do Burning Man and LA Opera have in common?
When she’s not leading campers or community members in opera productions at LA Opera, Romero is a co-founder and co-artistic director of aLma.MaddR, a Los Angeles-based interdisciplinary arts collective. The collective’s latest project is a sound installation for an international collaboration called Aluna that will be staged at this year’s Burning Man.
These two gigs aren’t mutually exclusive.
Romero shares that one actually informs the other in the way she makes art. Her community outreach work has helped Romero understand how to use art to connect diverse communities.
At LA Opera, Romero helps introduce students and members of the greater Los Angeles community to opera. Her work on programs like Opera Camp serves to make the art form more accessible. (Accessibility is at the core of LA Opera’s mission.)
“The opportunity to be part of a world class opera company, considered to be an exemplary education institution, keeps my civic duty in check, my art-making practice informed, and strengthens my relationships with the diverse Los Angeles community.”
In her role at LA Opera, she reaches out to community organizations and schools to identify students for opera camp and manages the day to day details of the camp. This year, campers will stage Brundibár. It tells the story of a young brother and sister who must find a way to bring milk home to their sick mother. The opera holds historical significance for being performed at children imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp.
Brundibár (like every opera performed in the camp) carries themes of social justice. The camp – and by extension Anabel’s work – teaches communities of kids that they have a voice.
“It’s an honor to be able to contribute to the artistic development and cultivation of younger and older generations,” says Romero.
Romero’s work at aLma.MaddR is also about community.
Her work, like Aluna, pushes audience members to experience life differently. It engages with the social themes that reflect today’s climate, and immerse audiences in the art of diverse cultures.
To be staged at Burning Man next month, Aluna is a structure is shaped like a 3D pyramid facing upward and down making the aluna symbol, designed by Colombian lead artist and architect, Juan David Marulanda. Upon entering, two pairs of seesaw swings hang from the ceiling, inviting you to find counterweight in a partner, who will collaborate and engage with you in a game of balance and trust. The structure and it’s octophonic sound installation (eight speakers) spatialize a rich cosmological environment inspired by the wisdom of the Arhuacos, an indigenous community from the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, Colombia (the country where Romero’s family is from). The installation uses sound samples of original Arhuacan instrumentation, courtesy of the Museum of Gold in Bogotá, Colombia.
It’s tricky for an artist to represent a community and maintain its purity.
“Aluna is a sound meeting of cultures. It uses the traditional sounds of the Arhuacos. Some of those sounds are transformed and blended with contemporary sounds to create something a bit more experimental,” explains Romero.
She continues, “It’s important for us to recognize that we have a distance from that community,” says Romero. “We have to make sure we are respectful of the Arhuacan culture. Aluna is an incredible opportunity for its artists and audience members. As an international collaboration and the first Burning Man Project from Colombia, we have an important international window through which we can share with audiences a message of coexistence and harmony, an often unseen part of our culture and the doctrine of a community whose entire purpose is to preserve our reciprocal relationship with the planet. Taking care of the earth requires purposeful energy. Aluna allows audiences actively engage with the installation and offers a truly immersive experience.”
As such, Anabel, fellow aLma.MaddR founder Christina Ward, collaborator Daniel González are excited to share a piece of this culture with the world.
Romero works with kids at LA Opera to share opera with members of the Los Angeles community. She works with indigenous people for Aluna. Whoever she works with, Romero constantly has the communities she’s serving or representing in mind.
To learn more about and reserve tickets for Opera Camp, click here.
To learn more about Aluna, click here.
LA Opera is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the greater good.