My art comes from a busy mind. It is a dance full of subtext and images, poems that deliver themselves through my body. I dance with my organs to understand whom I am. While I love improvisation as a medium to express the content of a fresh and spontaneous art, I pursue a choreography that deals with the radical transformation of qualities and textures in relation with body architectures and geometrical shapes. Most of the pieces I have done are juxtaposing technically demanding choreography with open space of improvisation.
I was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. At the age of eight I received a scholarship to attend the National Sports School Eduardo Sabory in Havana and continued my studies as a student of the Cuban National Ballet School Alicia Alonso. My first encounter with modern dance was at the age of eleven when I entered the National Art School Cuba in 1983. I graduated with a diploma in modern and folkoric dance in 1990.
In 1999 I moved from Cuba to New York and subsequently relocated to Berlin in 2011.
My professional career spans 27 years in various styles and techniques ranging from classical to modern dance, integrating both release technique and improvisational research.
I have been choreographing, performing as well as staging my own work since 1993, whilst being simultaneously employed as a company dancer with Danz Abierta Company, Cuba (1991-1996), Mal Pelo Company, Spain (1997-1999), Trisha Brown Dance Company, New York, US, (2006-2009) and Sasha Waltz & Guests, Berlin, Germany (2011- 2014).
I worked with independent choreographers such as David Zambrano (1997), Jeremy Nelson and Luis Malvacias (2001-2002), DD Dorvillier (2002) and Deborah Hay (2012), amongst many others. I was an active member of the independent dance scene in Cuba and New York and – with my current focus on Berlin – am both cooperating with artists as well as creating my own work in which I explore a variety of formats: from “silence solos”, duets, trios and group pieces to complex multidisciplinary performances.
For several years, I was strongly committed to improvisation as a performance form involving live music. From 1996-2009, I collaborated with my former long-time partner, (2011) MacArthur Fellow composer and drummer Dafnis Prieto on an ongoing investigation into the dynamic interplay between dance and music.
I have collaborated on several improvisation projects involving live music with innovative composers and visual artists, amongst whom Steve Coleman (1997), Henry Threadgill (2002, 2008), Jonathan Cramer (2002), Stephen Talasnik (2010), Sun K. Kwak (2010), Kentaro Ishihara (2010-2011), Burt Barr (2008), Ian Trask (2011) as well as with photographers Anna Lee Campell (US), Anja Hitzenberger (Austria), Octavio Tapia (Chile) and Manuel Moncayo (Mexico).
In 1997, “Un Lugar”, one of my early pieces created together with the Cuban Jazz band Columna B, was awarded a Stanford Jazz Workshop Residency, thanks to the support by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. I have subsequently been commissioned to create choreographic work by Aaron Davis Hall, via their Fund for New Work through the Jerome Foundation (2002), for Danspace Project St. Marks Church NY – within the commissioning initiative supported by NYSCA (2004-2005) and the commissioning initiative from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (2009-2010) – as well as for the Whitney Museum NY with composer Dafnis Prieto (2007).
I was artist-in-residence at Movement Research, NYC from 2003-2004 and 2011-2012. 1/3
I have presented my creations internationally in theaters, festivals, museums and galleries and been a recipient of various grants, amongst which E-Moves of Harlem Stage (2008), the Cuban Artists Fund (2009), Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (2006, 2009).
In 2008, I was awarded through the Meet the Composer’s Creative Connections Program with the support of the Department of Cultural Afairs, New York State Council on the Arts, Virgil Thomson Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
In the same year, I invited performer and media artist Jonah Bokaer to co-create a duet that will later become “Replica”, a multidisciplinary collaboration with renowned American visual artist Daniel Arsham which toured extensively in the US and Europe (2009-2010).
“Replica” was commissioned by the Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences (CPNAS), Washington D.C with support from the Harman Center. The collaboration was made possible thanks to the support from the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Trust for Mutual Understanding, the New Museum, U.S. Artists International, the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Valencia, Spain, and the Musee Carré d’Art in Nîmes, France.
In 2010 I established JSR Company in New York City to promote my choreographic activities.
As a company I received commissioning support from the Storm King Art Center, NY (2010) as well as the Guggenheim Museum’s Works & Process Performing Arts Series (2010).
The company was awarded grants by the American Music Center’s Live Music for Dance Program (2010), Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (2010), The Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Field (2010-11), Baryshnikov Arts Center in the frame of their Martha Dufy Resident Artist Spring Program (2011) and DMAC – Duo Multicultural Arts Center (2011).
In 2010 I served as an evaluator for Creative Capital’s MAP Fund. In the same year I was also a Movement Research panelist for Judson Church Performance and acted as a member of the Artist Advisory Council at Movement Research, NYC.
In 2008 I was awarded “Mujeres Destacadas” (Outstanding Women) by “El Diario”, the Spanish newspaper in New York, and was selected by Dance Magazine as one of the 25 Dancers to Watch in 2010.
After my relocation to Berlin in 2011, my cooperation with Australian dancer Rachel Arianne Ogle was successfully granted support by Australia’s Department of Culture and the Arts to develop a new piece, “A la Muerte Que Me Distes Le Faltaron Alas”.
A year later, in 2012, I started a choreographic collaboration with Berlin-based Mozambiquan performer Edivaldo Ernesto. “There is a name for it” (2012-2014) was presented at Radialsystem, Berlin, Germany, at Tanzfestival im Kulturzentrum Tempel, Karlsruhe, Germany, at Ofestival, Garage 29, Brussels, Belgium, at BOUGE B, deSingel, Antwerp, Belgium as well as at Gdansk Dance Festival, Gdansk, Poland.
“Noise”, our most recent collaboration from 2016, was premiered at Tanz_House, Salzburg, Austria (2016) and toured to Argentina to be presented in the frame of the Festival EL CRUCE, Rosario, and at El Porton de Sanchez Theater, Buenos Aires (2016) as well as to Notafe Festival, Estonia (2017). Further dates in Hong Kong for 2018 are already confrmed.
Thanks to our recent exposure in China, we have been invited to create a choreography for Chinese contemporary dancers from diferent provinces of China, starting in November 2017, with a tour planned for China and Europe in 2018.
In 2015, JSR Company premiered “Micro Revolution”, a site-specifc performance with 11 artists at ACUD art center Berlin, collaborating with sound designer Jassem Hindi, pianist Sebastian Schunke and opera singer Atalyá Tirosh. “Sebastian Schunke Meets Judith Sánchez Ruíz” was a collaboration with German Jazz pianist Sebastian Schunke and premiered at Pavillon Hannover, Hannover, Germany, in February 2016. The improvisational project “Mirror Equation” was performed at Flutgraben, Berlin, in July 2016.
“Encaje”, my most recent work – on hypocrisy, drawing from the diaries of writer Anaïs Nin – was presented as a work-in-progress at Festival Deltebre Dansa, Spain, July 17, 2017, and received a residency award at Choreographisches Centrum Heidelberg in Projekt der TANZAllianz, Heidelberg, Germany, the same year. It will premiere at the 14th Guangdong Dance Festival, Guangzhou, China in November this year. A US tour is planned for 2018.
Internationally successful Indian choreographer Akram Khan approached me with an invitation to create a duet which will premiere at Avignon Festival in 2019.
In the six years after moving from New York City to Berlin, I was able to establish myself not only as a choreographer, but also as a teacher at major institutions of higher education in dance throughout Europe.
I have been creating work and teaching at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, France (2015, 2016, 2017), SNDO Amsterdam, Netherlands (2017), den Danske Scenekunstskole (the Danish National School of Theatre and Contemporary Dance) (2010, 2014), at Norges Dansehøyskole (Norwegian College of Dance), Oslo, Norway (2014), at the Modern Dance Theater School, MTD, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2015) and also at the University of Music and Dance Cologne, Germany (2014, 2015, 2016).
I have been invited to teach and give summer workshops at Dance Umbrella Festival, London, Coda Oslo International Dance Festival, Oslo, Tsekh Summer School, Moscow, Objectif Danse, Marseille.