Getting to Know Choreographer-in-Residence Paola Escobar

August 16, 2019 10:28 AM
by Rebecca Tokofsky

Paola Escobar at Beach Dances 2019. Photo by Jason Abraham.

Choreographer-in-Residence Paola Escobar has begun work at the Annenberg Beach House this month.

Choreographer-in-Residence Paola Escobar has begun work at the Annenberg Beach House this month. Escobar’s work utilizes elements of Flamenco, Salsa and African dance to explore displacement and nomadism within contemporary society. In July and August you may see her onsite, testing ideas and movement, in preparation for her public performances, "Darning and Patching without a Nail", October 4-6. Please feel free to ask questions or say hello, or participate in popup conversations and movement sessions with her onsite. She'll be posting about her progress at

We spoke with Paola about her inspiration for the project and thoughts thus far.  

How does your work at the Beach House connect to the themes of migration and displacement?

I have always felt drawn to talk about these topics as an immigrant myself. I connect my inclination to dance movement to my experience of moving through different places throughout my life. Dance movement exists on a smaller scale, while my migration exists on a larger scale. I also connect the element of the multilingual nature of immigrants to the multiple vocabularies of dance movement that I know and practice. For example, I know the Flamenco language, but I also study and express myself through ballet, contemporary dance and African dance. I am familiar with the languages of salsa and social dance that I am able to speak with my body. For some humans the idea of home has become mobile, rather than attached to a specific place, whether by choice or not. I'm interested in what new perspectives and possibilities may be created for these mobile individuals. In this sense, my work reflects on questions of nomadism and migration. 

Is site-specificity as a practice integral to these themes?

The piece will create a path through the space of the Beach House, with a certain trajectory that will be developed over time. There will be logistics to figure out as the piece develops, such as transitions and distances. I am interested in following the curiosity of movement, and researching how movement can reflect the place you are working in, the physical or social context and texture of your location.

Paola Escobar speaking with Beach House guests 

How would you like the public and your audience to interact with you?

Right now I’m asking Beach House visitors and staff to join me in imagining their own dance piece in different parts of space, whether it be by the splash pad or in the pool, rappelling off the built elements or using the height contrasts throughout the site, or exploring through the landscaping. We had a bee swarm here yesterday and that was rather fascinating!  

Paola Escobar speaking with Beach House staff  

I am interested in learning what they have to say and interacting with them and the space around us. I hope that audience participants will be open to traverse the space with us. Additionally, I am working on a soundtrack triggering device, and possibly a streaming/recording device that will allow the audience to adjust the way the final performance is experienced, both in person and remotely.

I hope that all of you will join and move with us!

Performances are part of the Beach=Culture series, presented by Santa Monica Cultural Affairs; click here for reservations to these and other events. To learn more about Paola Escobar, please visit More about the residency program at

Paola Escobar (Annenberg Community Beach House 2019 Choreographer-in-Residence) is a Colombian artist who creates transcultural work that combines her Latin-American background with her interest in the flamenco tradition, African culture, and contemporary art. Escobar's work reflects on memory and cultural identity, and deals with current issues of immigration, hierarchies of power, and cultural perception. Escobar has toured and performed in France, Spain, Portugal, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, United States, and Colombia. In 2005, Escobar received the Colombian National Award. Escobar holds an MFA in Choreography from CalArts, and a BFA in Performance from the University of Florida.

About the Annenberg Community Beach House 

The Annenberg Community Beach House at Santa Monica State Beach is a public facility operated by the City of Santa Monica located on five acres of oceanfront property in Santa Monica. The Beach House story is one of evolution from private to public, starting with the development of the property at 415 Pacific Coast Highway as an opulent private estate of silent film star Marion Davies in the 1920s. Parking from April – October is $12/day or $3/hour. 

Santa Monica Cultural Affairs hosts exhibitions on a quarterly basis at the Annenberg Community Beach House as a part of the Beach=Culture program. Beach=Culture is a year-round series of free concerts, discussions, readings, exhibitions and artist residency events. @Annenbergbeachhouse #SMBeachHouse  

About Santa Monica Cultural Affairs 

Santa Monica Cultural Affairs brings the City’s art scene to life for residents and visitors each year by supporting engaging and accessible cultural events for all ages throughout the year. Cultural Affairs nurtures local arts organizations, promotes artist involvement in the community, manages the landmark Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and presents and produces innovative programs citywide at the Annenberg Community Beach House, the historic Miles Playhouse, Camera Obscura Art Lab and in the city’s parks, enriching Santa Monica’s reputation as an international cultural destination.  | #ArtSaMo  

Authored By

Rebecca Tokofsky
Administrative Intern