Carmelita Tropicana / Alina Troyano and Ela Troyano

2014 + 2015 Lab Artists: 

About Aline and Ela Troyano

carmelita elaAt the heart of Schwanze-Beast are two sisters: ALINA and ELA TROYANO, Cuban-American feminist performers who have been working in New York City since the early 1980s. Alina Troyano, better known by her stage name Carmelita Tropicana, started by performing at the now-famous lesbian performance space known as the WOW Café. Ela Troyano is an award winning interdisciplinary filmmaker, as well as a writer/director and performer. Both have played prominent roles in the New York avant-garde film and theater movements of the 1980s.

As a writer and performer, Tropicana straddles the world of performance art and theatre using humor and fantasy as subversive tools to re-write history from the point of view of woman, man, child, and assorted animals and insects. Schwanze-Beast is the culmination of ideas she has been involved with for the past 15 years. VPL has been working with Tropicana since 2014 supporting her research into animal behavior and scientific methodology, and providing time to workshop film and performance material with collaborators.

Schwanze-Beast is a hybrid work that is equal parts performance, scientific lecture and installation. In Schwanze-Beast, the future becomes a lens through which to examine our present cultural landscape. The status of the animal species and their civil rights is closely tied to climate change and the preservation of all species, as well as class issues, immigration, sexual preference, race and gender.

In 2015 VPL brought Tropicana and Troyano to Vermont for two engagements: the first in June where VPL collaborated with CineSLAM Vermont’s LGBT Film Festival and Green Mountain Crossroads, to present their work through a series of talks, film screenings and workshops in Brattleboro, and again in September when VPL presented a preview performance of Schwanze-Beast as part of VPL’s Progressive Performance Festival.



Since 2006, VPL has hosted over 80 residencies