For 15 years, I have been the teacher, guide, and mentor of a new generation of dancers from the Orange County area. I am humbled to have been instrumental in providing them a home where they can express their creative wisdom, share the aspirations of their souls, and ultimately inspire and empower others. These beautiful dancers and incredible human beings are the founding motivation behind the birth of my company, Contempo Ballet.”- Jose Costas, Founder/Artistic Director
Jose Costas (Artistic Director/Choreographer), known for work that is sensually dramatic, theatrical, prismatic, rhythmic and choreographically dense is the founder, choreographer and artistic director of Contempo Ballet, a newly formed professional dance company based in Orange County, California. Costas brings over 30 years of professional dance experience to his company.
Originally from Puerto Rico, Costas is known for multi-media works that blend poetically complex choreography with audio and visual elements that express the social concerns he feels for the poor and those suffering through the horrors of war and oppression. He showcases his work through live performances as well as filmed documentaries, which he produces with his creative team. Costas says, “I enjoy presenting my pieces in front of live audiences; however, I also find it rewarding to film and creatively edit my dance pieces because the camera allows the audience to share intimate moments with the dancers, that otherwise would be lost given the distance between the stage and the audience. The inclusion of the audience in the dancers’ personal space creates an intimate connection, a romantic duet between the two, and enhances the artistic and emotional experience of the performance.”
Costas has a Master of Education from the Catholic University of Puerto Rico and upon moving to the United States in 1984, also earned a Master of Dance from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. While at Tisch School of the Arts, Costas had the opportunity to work with internationally renowned choreographers Lar Lubovitch, (Blue Danube), Ohad Naharin (Tabula Rasa) and Anna Markard (re-staging Kurt Jooss’ The Green Table).
Upon completion of his degree, Costas was hired as a principal dancer with Ballet Hispanico of New York. At the invitation of his mentor, Tina Ramirez, Costas later became the Artistic Director at the Company’s Ballet Hispanico School of Dance and he formed Ballet Hispanico 2, which allowed dance students to continue developing their performance skills after graduation.
While at Ballet Hispanico, Costas created lead roles in Cafe America by George Faison, Cada Noche Tango and El Nuevo Mundo by Graciela Danielle, Inez De Castro by Vicente Nebrada, and Solo by Susan Marshall.
Dance Critic, Anna Kisselgoff from the New York Times described Costas’ performance in Solo as, “Brilliant!”
Eva Yaa Asantewaa from the Village Voice called his performance in Cada Noche Tango, “Sensational!”
Critics from the New York Post, Village Voice and New York Times said Costas was a “superb technician”, a “three-dimensional actor”, and had “delectable stage presence.” One critic noted, “Jose Costas looks so good in his role of El Duende, you can barely take your eyes off him.”
In addition to these accolades, Costas was the recipient of numerous grants and awards including:
- Modern Dance Award by the Puerto Rican Institute of New York
- New York State Council of Arts, Minority Choreography’s Commission
- Sally Casanova Memorial RSCAAP Award
- Hanging of the Orange Award, Outstanding Artistic Creative Work and Community Outreach
He also seized the opportunity to work with choreographers, Talley Beaty, Alberto Alonso, Amanda Miller, Ramon Oller and William Forsythe, all of whom shaped him as an artist.
Costas achieved every performer’s dream when he made his debut on Broadway as a Featured Dancer in Brigadoon’s National Tour, choreographed by five-time Tony Award nominee and Academy Award winner, Rob Marshall.
After ten successful years as a principal dancer in New York, Costas moved to Los Angeles in 1994 where he accepted a position with Cal State Dominguez Hill as a full time lecturer teaching in the Dance and Theatre Department. There he created outreach community programs and formed his own pick-up company, Jose Costas Dance Company, which allowed him to continue to express himself both as a choreographer and performer.
In 1999 Costas accepted a position with Orange Coast College, where he is currently a tenured professor in the Dance Department and has been responsible for choreographing some of the department’s most daring and cutting edge performances including the recently acclaimed #barrasybarreras.
Since his arrival in Southern California, Costas has been intensely focused on developing his own choreographic voice and style; this has given him the opportunity to create his own professional dance company, Contempo Ballet. Costas is delighted that the company will keep its base in Orange County where he has worked for nearly two decades. Costas says, “I have fallen in love with the arts community in Orange County, and it has welcomed me with open arms. There is no other place I would rather be.”