Agua Furiosa has been in conceptual development since 2012. Over these almost four years, there have been countless texts, stories, songs, dances, images and conversations that inspired the work. Here we have listed some of that inspiration, from Artistic Director/Choreographer, Ana Maria Alvarez, sound designer, d. Sabela grimes, and chanteuse, Pyeng Threadgill. As well, there are resources to learn more about the themes of the work.


  • The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House, an essay by a fierce Black Feminist Lesbian activist and scholar, Audre Lorde
  • Sojourner Truth, an African American woman who survived chattel slavery to become one of the most renowned human rights activists in our nation’s history
  • What is Internalized Racism?, an essay by Donna K. Bivens on one of the themes explored especially by Calibans 2 and 3, internalized oppression and racism
  • The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, a trusted organization that is doing important work on “undoing racism”. They describe themselves as “a collective of anti-racist, multicultural community organizers and educators dedicated to building an effective movement for social transformation”. They offer outstanding workshops around several critical race-related issues.



Oyá | Oyá is an Orisha, in the Afro-Cuban tradition of Santeria (or Lukumí), a tradition that was brought to Cuba from Nigeria when Yoruban people were enslaved through the Trans- Atlantic slave trade. Oyá is the deity of the wind, the air, lighting, fertility and magic. Oftentimes referred to as a destroyer, Oyá represents more the spirit of change, transition, and chaos. She is associated with the marketplace and the gates of cemeteries, which reveal Oyá in her aspect as facilitator of transition and transformation. She is a queen and a warrior orisha. In Yoruba, Oyá literally means “She Tore”. She is also called “the one who wears pants to go to war“. There are a number of websites that provide general information about Oyá, however, we cannot verify the accuracy of the information on these sites.

The Tempest |  The Tempest, is considered to be one of William Shakespeare’s greatest works. Written while Europe was colonizing the Americas, The Tempest is thought of as Shakespeare’s in-depth discussion into the morality of colonialism and has been the subject of feminist critique, due to the lack of female voices in the play.  Alvarez created Agua Furiosa as a counter narrative to The Tempest, taking on many of the themes of the original play (magic, justice, “the soul”) but from a clear female and contemporary perspective.  The work calls on two distinct characters of the play:

  1. Caliban, a disfigured slave; his name is connected to the word Cannibal, which is derived from “Carib”, the term then used for natives in the West Indies. In The Tempest, Caliban is very much in touch with the natural world, but demonized and not considered fully human.
  2. Sycorax, the mother of Caliban, one of the less-prominent women mentioned in The Tempest, is only described by the men of the play and never given body or voice. Woven throughout these descriptions of her is a suspicion of woman as evil, malicious and untrustworthy.


Musical Inspiration

The following artists were specifically identified by d. Sabela grimes as inspirations for Agua Furiosa‘s soundtrack:

  • Celia Cruz- Quimbara
  • Duke Ellington
  • Fatoumata
  • Diawara
  • Petey Pablo
  • Kev Carmody
  • Soledad Bravo
  • Afrekete/Javier Campos Martinez



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