Gema Sandoval, founder, artistic director and choreographer of Danza Floricanto/USA is devoted to illuminating her Mexican-American heritage through dance. Over the past fifteen years, Sandoval has staged theme works in addition to traditional regional dances of Mexico. Among these are: a commissioned work for the opening of the 1999 Kaleidoscope Festival, titled Fandango Angeleno; Si Se Puede/Yes You Can, a work inspired by labor activist and United Farm Workers founder, Cesar Chavez, and co-choreographed with Loretta Livingston; Sandoval's Dia de los Muertos-Day of the Dead Celebration which, since 2001, has become an annual community tradition which Floricanto performs somewhere in the Southland; her 2003 collaboration with Kayamanan Ng Lahi Philippine Dance company, From Acapulco to Manila-Another Story from the Pacific Rim commemorating the musical and dance traditions of the Mexican and Philipino people and their mutual influence and transformation through centuries of Spanish trade in the galleons; her ongoing collaboration with Whittier College's Shannon Center for the Performing Arts, Navidad en Whittier; her work with Chicano music sensation, Quetzal which generated Fandango Without Borders in 2004; Un Zapateado Chicano-Rhythmic Footprints, in 2008, a follow up to the Fandango project and her current work, Alma Llanera-Spirit of the Plains, inspired by Rudolfo Anaya's novel, Bless Me Ultima workshoped in San Francisco and Los Angeles during 2010, to be premiered at the Downey Theater in March 2011.
Along with her company, Sandoval is the winner of the 1994 and 1995 Horton Award for the Staging of Traditional Dance, a year 2000 fellow of the California Arts Council's Fellowship in Dance Program, a winner of the Irvine Foundation's California Dancemaker awards for 2001. Sandoval and her company are also the proud recipients of a New England Foundation for the Arts National Dance Project production grant for 2003-04, for Fandango Without Borders. And the recipient of the 2006 Irvine foundation's Dance Creation to Performance Fellowship for Un Zapateado Chicano also funded by the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture.