“hard-hitting, hypnotizing” 

Heather Desaulniers/Critical Dance

Alma’s work turned the proposition of “political” into movement exploration that altered a sense of space and time – and by calling attention to our subjectivity (to our experience of self within an environment) this shifted what we know to be “true” or “real” or “valid”.  

Kate Mattingly/Baywatch

-Artist Statement-  I create structures that encourage conversation and energetic exchange between performer and viewer.  The work concerns itself with the female body, it’s personal narrative and the environment in which the dance inhabits. 


Alma Esperanza Cunningham started as a Ballet dancer, attending the Pre-Professional Program at Marin Ballet with her older sisters.  Later she attended Alvin Ailey and then went on to discover NYC downtown dance.  She has been blessed to have amazing mentors and Teachers that include Christine Walton, Alexandra Danilova, Toni Basil, Donald Byrd, Kathy Ward of Erik Hawkins and the list just goes on and on.  Ballet is the house she continually tears down to create formal chaos and to ask visual questions. Cunningham integrates her life experiences and those of her collaborators to create work that is human and unpredictable. Cunningham reframes the role of the female dancer by creating movement essays as a way of challenging the viewer’s expectation. The work references fashion, personal narrative and art history to show us that the female experience is both complex and heroic.

Her work has been presented at Dixon Place, Movement Research at Judson Church, Dance Theater Workshop’s Fresh Tracks. After moving back to San Francisco from New York, she formed her company Alma Esperanza Cunningham Movement (AECM). Alma has been an Artist in Residence at ODC, Jon Sims Center for the Arts, and in 2004/05, she partnered with Robert Moses in CHIME (Choreographers in Mentorship Exchange), a program of the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company. Alma was the recipient of a 2004 GOLDIE (SF Bay Guardian’s Outstanding Local Discovery) award.

In 2007, after giving birth to her daughter, she took a 5 year break from making and watching dance and in 2013 started back with a focus on female solos that have informed her current work.



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