Susana Arenas Pedroso
Director of Arenas Dance Company
Susana Arenas Pedroso is an internationally recognized Cuban Folkloric and popular (i.e. social) dancer. Born and raised in Havana, Cuba, Ms Pedroso began her career in dance at age twelve, studying at La Casa de Cultura de Matanzas and at Cojunto Folklorico Nacional in Havana. She danced professionally for seventeen years in Cuba with popular, folkloric and theatrical performing groups, including Tierra Virgen, Alafia Ire, Oche Olorun, Oriki, Clave y Guaguancó, Oba Wemilere, Rumberos de Cuba, and Raíces Profundas. Since her arrival in the United States in 1998, Ms Pedroso has performed and choreographed numerous pieces that have been exhibited throughout the United States, Mexico, Cuba and Hong Kong with companies such as Omo Ache, Omo Oddara, Ban Rarra, Ire Ile, Alayo Dance Company, Las Que Son Son and Obini Ashe.
In 1999 Ms Pedroso founded her own dance companies, Saudunga Cubana, which specialized in Cuban Popular dance, and Olorun, which specialized in Cuban Folkloric dance. In 2004 Ms Pedroso decided to join the two troupes, establishing Arenas Dance Company, a company that has expertise in both folkloric and popular Cuban traditions. Arenas Dance Company has experienced much success under Ms Pedroso’s direction and has performed at venues such as Dance Mission Theater, ODC, Palace of Fine Arts, Chico State, Yerba Buena, Herbst Theater, Stanford University, San Jose Jazz Festival, Healdsburg Jazz Festival at the Rave Theater, Laney Theater, The Great American Music Hall, and La Peña Cultural Center, to name just a few.
In 2005, Arenas Dance Company produced the evening length show, Yo Soy Cuba (I am Cuba) in San Francisco. This performance was enthusiastically received and sold-out all performances and was remounted in 2006 for an encore (sold-out) run. Dancer José Barroso even received an Isadora Duncan Dance Award for his performance in the 2006 production. Other celebrated works include Arenas Dance Company’s Dos Aguas, which received an award for Best Choreography from the SF Ethnic Dance Festival. More recent works include Eso si! (2019), which celebrated Pedroso’s 20th year in the United States, and Ada Ara (2022), which paid homage to the strength of Cuban women.
The company frequently performs original works in the Black Choreographers Festival, CubaCaribe Festival, SF Salsa/Rueda Festival, Yemanja Festival, Stanford Jazz Festival, Carnaval San Francisco, and often collaborates with Alayo Dance Company.
The company is about to embark on a multi-year, multi-cycle performance project with Dance Mission Theater and the Guinean (and South Asian!) arts organization, Duniya Dance and Drum Company to investigate the rich and complex social-political-cultural exchange between Cuba and Guinea, West Africa post revolution and post-independence.
A respected cultural bearer, Susana Arenas Pedroso teaches throughout the Bay Area and the country and is responsible for teaching thousands of students. Pedroso and her work has been awarded support from Hewlett 50 Arts Commission, Gerbode Choreography Award, Creative Work Fund, NEFA/NDP, NEA, California Arts Council, Zellerbach Family Foundation and CA$H.