Body Language: Barrio Sonidero


Director Leo Aguirre spotlights New York’s sonidero community, and the transcendental power fueling unification through dance. For those who find unity in its spaces, sonidero is escapism. Born in the barrios of Mexico City, these lo-fi celebrations of dance and music offer a passage to transcendental experience for the communities they serve, through the sounds of cumbia, salsa, guaracha, bachata and their ever-evolving subgenres. As ritualistic spaces, sonideros have become a unifier for all ages, sexualities, and nationalities traversing the length of Latin America, threading a connection to the traditions of home for the New York diaspora, and Mexican immigrant communities across the USA. Centered on a subset of New York’s sonidero community in Queens, Mexican-American director Leo Aguirre spearheads dance as a force for change with the short film Barrio Sonidero. Made in partnership with Jacob’s Pillow, the film captures the spirit of the sonidero through filmmaking, the colour treatment and style replicating the uplifting influence felt on its dancefloors, and the out-of-body immersion that comes with it. Within these spaces, the power of dance is expansive, accompanied by saludos – or shout outs – solidifying a sense of togetherness through direct celebration of the crowd that serves as its lifeforce. The origins of cumbia draw from an amalgamation of styles, genres, and cultures, and its influence parallels the varied demographics on which the sonidero is built. Its community-serving ethos is much like that of Jamaican sound system culture. These music and dance-led events present a cathartic release for immigrant communities – a preservation of roots, playing out far from a collective spiritual home. As the U.S. assault on immigration escalates with heightened xenophobia across the country, the sonidero stands strong as a force for solidarity among those targeted by racial prejudices – the beating heart of a community, and a celebration of creative expression through the shared roots upon which its connections are forged. Director: Leo Aguirre Producer: Travis Hood DOP: Danyal Khan Niazi Editors: Nate Katz & Leo Aguirre This film is part of the Body Language series, celebrating artists breaking cultural barriers in dance in partnership with NOWNESS.

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