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Stories From the West Side 2022

Stories From the West Side was a community event presented by James Sanders & Conjunto and Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre on April 30, 2022 at Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center in Chicago. It is a program of the Dr. Timuel Black Inspiration & Education Project, supported by funding from the Jazz Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Our community hosts & partners are Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center and San Lucas United Church of Christ.


Tent City composed by Kevin O’Connell
Gives testimony to the residents who live in the encampments in the park. Braving the elements and societal pressures but they feel this is “home” to them. 

Ever After composed by James Sanders | From Here, To Home choreographed by Katlin Bourgeois

This piece, in its essence, is about searching for home and how much work it takes to keep our most vulnerable within the folds of society. With this piece we hope to honor the rich culture of the Humboldt Park neighborhood, how dance has been interwoven in the fabric of the community for decades. We want to recognize Carmen Flores-Rance for her constant work in her church and neighborhood, as well as dedicate this piece to Levan Hill and all others who have fallen victim to gentrification and displacement. We found that as long as we are here, there must be hope for a better future, and for finding beauty even inside of struggle if you have to.

Invención composed by James Sanders
Inspired by the Latino spirit of making do and adapting. Innovating and embracing new ways to use old things. Incorporating classic ideas into a new context. 

Familiar Places composed by Kevin O’Connell

Inspired by the feelings you get when you come back to a place you are familiar with.  The strength and sense of fulfillment. The rush of adrenaline and the sense of identity.

The Island composed by James Sanders | choreographed by Rigo Saura
Based on the story of Marisa de Arce describing how she took refuge in the park from a troubled home on the small Island located in the Humboldt Park area, with her little sister. Inspired by this true story, Sanders and Saura created a piece chronicling the experience of this story on four different reels, and how it continues to resonate in our daily lives. Immersed in the idea of finding a safe environment, "The Island'' becomes a wonderful refuge, where playful and imaginary moments were the escape from reality. Joy, Sadness, Inspiration and Anguish mixed together are part of the nuances that travel through this piece, which both musically and choreographically give it a unique distinction.  

Amalgamation composed by Kevin O’Connell

Based on the powerful testimony of DJ Lugo Rosado who found music to be a safe space for himself and many of the teens in the 1970 ‘s in Chicago… all kinds of music and many types of people.  

James Sanders & Conjunto:

James Sanders, Violin & Leader
Kevin O’Connell, Piano
Luis Rosario, Drums
Jean-Christophe Leroy, Conga & Percussion
Freddy Quintero, Bass
Steve Eisen, Tenor Saxophone

Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre:

Wilfredo Rivera, Artistic Director & CEO

CRDT Dancers


From Here, To Home

Soloist #1 Michelle Skiba

Soloist #2 Sophie Allen

Michael Artrip

Kelsey Burns 

Delphine Chang 

Anouk Otsea

Brennen Renteria

The Island

Sophie Allen

Delphine Chang

Michelle Skiba

Brennen Renteria

Costumes by: Jordan Ross

Costumes Sponsored by: Sandra McNaughton

Lighting Design and Technical Direction: Margaret Nelson

CRDT Managing Director: Catherine Painter

Artist Statement by James Sanders

Through the power of our attention we make things important…

Is one story more important than another?

Why do we learn about certain stories and don’t know about others?  

Why do we remember them and love them? 

Today we focus on a particular set of stories: Stories from the West Side. Stories from the Latino community about Humboldt Park. Memories going back to the 1960's to the present…

The Island | A Documentary Short by Dave Belden

James Sanders would like to thank Carmen Rance-Flores of San Lucas Church for opening her doors to us and giving us the opportunity to hear directly from the community, Carlos Flores for his inspiring documentary photography, Omar Torres-Kortright of SRBCC for providing this beautiful venue to present in, the Jazz Institute of Chicago and Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events for financial support, and finally all the amazing musicians of Conjunto and dancers of CRDT for bringing this idea to life.

About Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre (CRDT)

With an intense focus on personal narratives, the combined talents of our diverse collective of artists, and the multiple artistic languages with which we communicate (primarily dance & music), Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre engages audiences in magnetic human stories at once new & deeply familiar. In our art & our artists, we are proudly & visibly multicultural, exploring the intersection of heritage, culture, and identity.

CRDT Spring Season 2022~ check out our upcoming events on May 7, 14 & 28 featuring our Live Band and diverse repertoire across Chicagoland.

About Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center

One of 40 organizations recently recognized for its contributions to the history, culture, vibrancy, and identity of communities of color in greater Chicago (see Chicago Cultural Treasures), Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center (SRBCC) is the longest-standing Latino cultural center in Chicago. Established in 1971, it was named in honor of Segundo Ruiz Belvis, a Puerto Rican patriot and member of a secret abolitionist society that freed slave children under Spanish rule. In that spirit, SRBCC realizes its mission to preserve and promote appreciation of the culture and arts of Puerto Rico and Latin America, with a focus on its African heritage.

Stories from the West Side - Boys From Armitage & Clifton 1970_photo by Carlos Flores
From Here to Home | A Documentary Short by Dave Belden
Photo Gallery by Herminio Rodriguez
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