A local and national treasure, Susana Arenas Pedroso is an internationally recognized Cuban folkloric and popular choreographer and dance teacher. Born and raised in Havana, Cuba, Pedroso grew up in a family of musicians and santeros – “priests” in the Afro Diasporic religion, Regla de Ocha (often referred to as Santería), a spiritual practice inextricably linked with Cuban dance and music. Pedroso began her dance career at age twelve, studying at Casa de la Cultura in Matanzas. Pedroso then danced professionally for 17 years in Cuba with folkloric, popular, and theatrical groups, including the famed Raíces Profundas. Pedroso credits Raíces Profundas’ director, Juan de Dios Ramon Morejon, for her hard-hitting signature style of movement.
Since moving to the U.S. in 1998, Pedroso has choreographed and performed numerous pieces that have toured nationally and internationally, including being a contributing choreographer on Mexico’s “Jarocho,” which was created by Richard O’Neal (Assistant Director, Riverdance) and still tours today.
In 2004 Pedroso founded Arenas Dance Company, which specializes in both Cuban folkloric and popular (i.e. social) dance traditions. Now twenty-five dancers and musicians strong, Pedroso and her critically acclaimed company have received numerous awards that include Gerbode, Creative Work Fund, California Arts Council, NEFA/NDP and Hewlett 50, and regularly appear in festivals such as Ethnic Dance, CubaCaribe, Yemanja, Black Choreographers, African Arts, and Stanford Jazz Festivals. Reviewers have described Arenas Dance Company’s work as “fearsomely beautiful,” “mesmerizing,” and “ferocious,” and their evening-length works always sell-out. Celebrated works by Arenas Dance Company include “Eso Sí!,” “Yo Soy Cuba,” and “Ada Ara.”