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Family Dinner

Jun 05, 2017 By Rebecca Testrake

2015 Artist in Residence, Christine Suarez, updates us on the continued development of her project responding to the book of Ruth. An abridged version of her press release is below, but you can read the full press release here.


“I wanted to let y’all know that I am continuing my investigation of the Book of Ruth. Attached is my press release. The project is a whole other imagining of how to connect with the story - which I am finding a very resonating prism [through which] to look at America and the immigrant/refuge. It never fails to inspire hope and the will to survive.”

— Christine Suarez

World premiere of:

Family Dinner Conversations

A crowd-sourced dance-theater work about our collective identity as Americans

April 22, 23 & 30: Home-hosted potluck dinner events
June 3: Workshop with showing at 1450 Ocean/Camera Obscura 
June 4: Performance/potluck: Virginia Avenue Park, Santa Monica
June 10: Performance/potluck: Reed Park, Santa Monica
June 11: Performance/potluck: Home-hosted, Santa Monica

What does it mean to be an American? What have you done to survive? Where do you find hope? Dance-theater artist Christine Suarez follows up her critically acclaimed work, Mother.Father. with Family Dinner. — a dance-theater work created in collaboration with participants from a series of home-hosted potluck dinners. Together they examine their relationship to nation through the lens of the story from the Book of Ruth. From these conversations, Suarez and dancers will build a new work examining the parallels of our national identity and this ancient story of survival, immigration and hope.
Best known for her seamless combination of dance, music and words, Suarez’s past work has been hailed as “ingeniously crafted…poignant… [and] hilarious” by the Los Angeles Times, “savvy” by The New York Times and “smart and stylish” by the Village Voice. Most recently, Jeff Slayton from described Suarez’s Mother.Father. as “powerful, timely and moving.”
Family Dinner is SuarezDanceTheater’s newest project exploring community building and our collective national identity. Christine Suarez along with collaborating dancers Bernard Brown, Kai Hazelwood and Nguyen Nguyen are eager to experiment with a transparent creative process – in two phases. They start in conversation over a series of three home-hosted potluck dinners. Potluck participants will engage in a series of games and playful conversation in improvised situations. They will use the story from the Book of Ruth as a touchstone to talk about their relationship to our national identity. The approach is non-religious and people of all faiths are welcome. The initial potlucks were inspired by a need to be in conversation – to find community, to listen, to hold space despite different points of view.
Five weeks after the dinners, Suarez and dancers launch phase two – sharing the work. In rehearsals they will use the potluck conversations as their foundation – shedding light on the conflict and beauty.
Los Angeles-based composer/musician Avila Santo will create an original score. While the crowd-sourced raw material is an unknown, you can be sure the work will have Suarez’s trademark humor and brave investigation of how each theme lives in the body. How does being American inform how we move? How does the story of Ruth relate to the story of America? These performances will be both performative and participatory connecting with the initial potlucks.
SuarezDanceTheater will be sharing the final work throughout Santa Monica in informal spaces. The intent is to provide a broader access to residents of Santa Monica and beyond. They are conceiving these performances in two parts as well. Part one – the dance and participatory games. Part two – a potluck meal. They want to have sharing a meal together as an opportunity to discuss the work further and be in community with one another.
Family Dinner is presented by SuarezDanceTheater with performances by Bernard Brown, Kai Hazelwood and Nguyen Nguyen. It is directed and choreographed by Christine Suarez in collaboration with the performers. Original sound design created by Avila Santo and costume design by Michelle Groisman.

Home-hosted potluck dinner parties take place on April 22, 23 and 30 @ 5pm in Santa Monica and Culver City.

Reservations are required and space is limited. Please RSVP to

All potlucks are free. You are encouraged to bring a dish to share.

1450 Ocean/Camera Obscura is hosting a participatory workshop and informal showing of Family Dinner: Saturday, June 3 @ 4-5:30pm, $10.

The performances of Family Dinner take place on Sunday, June 4 @ 5:30pm Virginia Avenue Park (2200 Virginia Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90404), Saturday, June 10 @ 12pm Reed Park (1133 7th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90403), Sunday, June 11 @ 5:30pm home-hosted (address given upon RSVP).

Performances are free. Reservations are encouraged; space is limited. Please email to RSVP. After each showing, we invite you to join us with a communal meal. You are encouraged to bring a dish to share.

Follow the developmental journey of Christine’s project, Dancing the Book of Ruth, by reading her first post, second post, and third post, and fourth post as a 2015 Artist in Residence.
View Christine’s previous work created for Spark and Echo Arts: “The joy of our heart has ceased; Our dance has turned into mourning.