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El Salvador is often spoken about in terms of its tragedies: gross class inequalities that led to a 12-year civil war, devastating earthquakes and hurricanes that left large numbers of the Central American country’s citizens dead or displaced. The Contemporary Dance Theater of El Salvador, or El Teatro de Danza Contemporánea de El Salvador, uses dance to push discussions about El Salvador toward a more positive model. The first professional dance troupe to come out of the country, the company was established in 1994 by Miya Hisaka Silva to bring together artists hoping to “contribute what they can toward the reconstruction of a nation and to help unite a splintered society.” Through a mix of classical, contemporary, and indigenous dances, the troupe examines the country’s rich culture, lush landscapes, and political history in a way both unabashedly celebratory and reverential to those whose lives were lost in the fight for social and political change. The piece “And Now for Hope” (“Y Ahora la Esperanza”), choreographed by Hisaka Silva, is a tribute to the 80,000 Salvadorans lost in the country’s civil war; “Painted Birds” (Pájaros Pintados”) captures the country’s natural beauty. “Look At Me” (“Mírame”) explores romance—contemplating an enduring human element that is often obscured in times of civil unrest. The company performs as part of the Smithsonian’s Hispanic Heritage Month at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Ring Auditorium, 7th Street and Independence Avenue SW. Free. (202) 357-2700. (Sarah Godfrey)