Grant Recipients Dorothea Tanning Award Dance 2024

Petra Bravo

Photo by Ricardo Alcaraz.
  • 2024 Dorothea Tanning Award
  • Dance
  • Experimental Modern Dance Artist, Choreographer, Dance Teacher, Director
  • Born Habana, Cuba
  • Lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • She/Her

Artist Statement

I am a choreographer who investigates movement from my perspective of life. I truly believe in dance as a manifesto of history. As a choreographer I search for emotions and sensations to establish ideas on realistic themes. Life itself interests me. I experiment and crack open concepts through dance. In my methodologies of working with the body I look for authenticity; an exploratory dance composition that is combative, romantic, sublime, sexual, absurd, and indecipherable. For me, this achieves changes in the behavior of human thought. 

In my choreography it is necessary to decompose the domesticated body and return to other configurations. I use media and interdisciplinary exercises. I work with speech and language in the body in different ways: gestural insinuations, empty observations and misunderstood desires. When I teach or I am in the choreographic process I use language to break stigmas and prejudices in order to dethrone what prevents us from growing. For me, this is also a didactic commitment with the audience; to communicate directly with the viewer, regardless of what they perceive/receive and to challenge the impurity that corrupt political and religious systems so accurately have sold us. The art of dance is part of the evolution and history of a country. It makes us free and independent.

I make dance on the immediate. I dialogue with my dance compositions from the moment I wake up. It is part of my everyday life…it's like making coffee. My art is a refuge for impulses, it protects me to move forward, from my discomfort and accommodations in order to follow the enjoyment that also suffers, that’s how it is when you love. I live with my art on my shoulder. 

At this moment in my long career I’m writing poetry and vulgar thoughts. I want to publish a poetry book along with avant-garde poet Roberto Net Carlo. I also want to create an experimental dance theater production with videos, music and performers to explore phonetic, concrete and visual poetry.

- December 2023


Petra Bravo is an experimental choreographer whose work is inspired by the street and her experiences with everyday manifestations of society’s rampant inequality. Motivated by injustice and the beauty that emanates from confronting and resisting injustices,  Bravo’s main intention is to communicate her discomfort with that inequality as a Cuban and Caribbean woman. When facing the unexpected and absurd nature of life’s many predicaments, Bravo is moved to return to her fascination with the body. Her choreography disrupts harmony, sequential development, and visual comfort, changing and developing as it builds on the styles and interpretations each dancer brings. 

SIMULACRO (2023) was presented at the Julia de Burgos Theater at the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Pierdas in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In this work, Bravo’s choreography explores a social body violated through language—incorporating poetry by Roberto Net Carlo, dancers physically express what it is like to try and speak up without being heard, only to ultimately surrender, physically and mentally exhausted. The work is an attempt to highlight the inequitable colonization of Puerto Rico as a part of America. 

Bravo’s works include Ventarrón + 7% (2019) and Andiamo (2018), which were performed by Hincapié, Bravo’s experimental dance group, at the Bellet de San Juan festivals Encuentro Coreográfico and Inconexo, respectively, at Teatro Alejandro Tapia y Rivera in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Other works include Instalaciones Coregraficas (2016) and Hincapié Cuerpos de Agua (2015), which took place at the Plaza Juan Morel Campos Fountain, Centro de Bellas Artes in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

Bravo was honored in 1996 with a choreography retrospective entitled RetroPetraActiva at the Santurse Fine Arts Center. She received the United States Artists Fellowship in 2024. 

Bravo is a professor of modern dance, ballet, and choreography at the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras, at which she created Hincapié in 1999. She is also the founder of two international festivals, The Modern Dance Festival of Puerto Rico and the Choreography Festival for students attending the University.

Two performers dance in a swimming pool outdoors in the sun, visible from the hips up, one in front of the other. Giovanna Sosa Santos dances behind and slightly to the left of Marilis Pizarro, both with their faces pointed towards the camera and arms raised and bent at the elbows. They hold water in their cheeks and spout it from their mouths, both are dressed in tan swim tops. A spray of water is visible in the foreground in the bottom left corner of the frame.

Performance still from Hincapie Cuerpos de Agua at Fuente de agua Bellas Artes Plazoleta Juan Morell Campos, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2015. Performers: Giovanna Sosa Santos and Marilis Pizarro. Photo by Ricardo Alcaraz.

Three performers dance in a swimming pool outdoors in the sun, centered in a triangle with one dancer in the front in sharp focus, leaping out of the water, and two in the back, in softer focus. Paola Adorno sprawls with her body facing the camera with her torso tilted backward, head tossed to the right, and her arms spread in a Y. Her left leg is kicked forward, and she is wearing a light tan camisole with lace trim and loose tan lounge shorts. Carla Mendoza and Siul Valentín Medina dance in the background behind Adorno as sprinklers spout water in the foreground and middleground.

Performance still from Hincapie Cuerpos de Agua at Fuente de agua Bellas Artes Plazoleta Juan Morell Campos, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2015. Performers: Carla Mendoza, Paola Adorno, and Siul Valentín Medina. Photo by Ricardo Alcaraz.

Five dancers perform on a stage lit by soft orange and purple light, dressed in long patterned colorful skirts and leotard tops. Four are posed in various positions in a small arc towards the back of the stage, and the fifth is centered, standing closer to the front of the stage, and poses facing towards the left.

Performance still from a rehearsal of Desbarajusté at Bellas Artes de San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2016. Performers: Franklyn Fuentes, Isadora Cintrón, Paola Adorno, Mariela Sofía Billoch, and Giovanna Sosa Santos. Photo by José Chico Sosa.

Three performers dance on a dark stage, illuminated from the front with one centered and leaping in the foreground, and the other two positioned in the background. Nayaret Ennovi is in the front and jumps in a wide split with her legs straight and arms raised in a Y, wearing a long purple skirt over a leotard. in the backround to the left, José Reyero stands, facing the back of the stage. On the right, Petra Bravo turns to look at Ennovi, hunched forward with her arms raised and hands framing her face, wearing a purple top, pants, and scarf.

Performance still from a rehearsal of Desbarajusté at Bellas Artes de San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2016. Performers: José Reyero, Nayaret Ennovi, and Petra Bravo. Photo by José Chico Sosa.