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“The Fifth Wall”: Marianela Boán and Contaminated Dance
  • TItle: “The Fifth Wall”: Marianela Boán and Contaminated Dance
  • Date: 29 April 2010
  • Location: Sinaloa, Mexico
  • Interviewee: Marianela Boán
  • Interviewer: Abigail Levine
  • Language: English, Spanish

“The Fifth Wall”: Marianela Boán and Contaminated Dance

This section contains interview materials such as videos and transcripts.

Interview with Marianela Boán, conducted by Abigail Levine. April 29, 2010. Sinaloa, Mexico. Translated from Spanish.


icon Boán Interview English (166.1 kB)



Abigail Levine: How has Contaminated Dance evolved since you came to Philadelphia?

Marianela Boán: Well, I see two important things. The first is, obviously, the inclusion of technology, of video, within the show, its image, for the first time. In Cuba, I had decided not to do anything with those media because the necessary equipment didn’t exist there, what there was always broke. That was in the 80s. I tried to use video and said, “Here, it’s not possible.”

AL: But you were interested in it?

MB: All my life. We are talking about the year [1983] that I made a work called Nijinsky. I used video, but it was a disaster. Even though I had the luxury of having Padroncito [Juan Padrón, Cuban filmmaker—Vampiros en la Habana, etc.] edit my film... make me a film with images of Nijinsky, all at ICAIC [Instituto Cubano de Arte y Industria Cinematográficos]. It was, like, “Wow,”  but then there was no way to project it well, you know, old projectors and all that. At that point, I said, “I’m never using this stuff again in Cuba.” But video was already disquieting me a lot as an idea, as a phenomenon. I was living with this. I was already making another work that really needed video... also, there was the frustration of not having internet access. In Cuba, we lived with a scarcity of everything, which produces a thirst for all those things you don’t have. So, when I arrived in the U.S., to the MFA [completed in 2006 at Temple University], I focused in on that. I mean, one of the reasons that I left Cuba was because I couldn’t have access to the technology, and I felt limited. And I did not want to continue on like that.

Finally, then, I think this is the primary thing: that technology became one more element in the Contamination, along with theater, song, and all the rest. For example, in False Testimony, upon integrating technology, the contamination has become... has had new experiences. In False Testimony, it is a situation in which four artists of distinct disciplines participate in the action from their specific discipline, each expressive instrument is participating in a specific way--the musician with her cello, the videographer with the camera, the dancers with movement. All three are there, each using her particular vocabulary in the same situation. In this case, as a creator, it was like a kind of laboratory where two people are being checked, analyzed. And the cello, just as the camera, is used to spy, to provoke, to calm. This, then, is a completely new thing because it is not the same when it is the dancers who are singing and acting and all that. Using your instrument, your expressive language, maintaining it as it is, inserting it in a situation, sharing it in a situation. This was very important.

Each time I integrate technology, new things happen with the “contamination.” For example, in Voyeur, the idea was to incorporate the public into the scene, to break the fourth wall. And there, again, is another element. And, later, in Decadere, there was the idea of the abandoned office and the idea of having technology tossed around carelessly in the space. And there, I also incorporated the use of the microphone, the processing of sound live, the DJ on stage. There is a permanent microphone. So, now it is not only work with video, but I am also experimenting with the realm of sound. I mean, with every technological element that is incorporated, new possibilities open up in the Contamination. And possibilities for the interpreter to get to a much more distant place in the body. I mean, getting beyond that of the “dancer.” This was already a space opened in my work, but each time more and more.

AL: I read an interview that you did in Cuba where you said that you felt like you had to speak about the reality around you. Do you think that in your work in the U.S., for a North American audience, that they read and understand your work in a different way than a Cuban audience, or is it similar?

MB: No, I believe it’s similar. Moving here, I felt total censorship. I mean, I have not lost the sensation, being here, that I am being censored. For example, during the Bush government, it was almost like living in... It was so ideologically repressive because of the question of the war and American patriotism and all that. For example, in Voyeur, I used the “Instructions for Use in Case of a Chemical Attack”, a U.S. government document. It is an official text. I felt moments of “Wow, this could get me in trouble.” It is a powerful text. Another example is the nudity in False Testimony. I feel like there are places in the U.S. where I cannot use nudity. So, there are examples of moral censorship, and also ideological censorship, that I have felt perfectly clearly. And money directs and Christian morality imposes... So, I think my work continues moving, articulating ideology wherever it appears. I have felt with my pieces that the public here has had the same need to see their reality reflected, to have someone comment beyond what people are accustomed to art doing. Basically, audiences have received the work with great interest.

AL: I have felt that there is an a-politicism, if that’s what to call it... that a great deal of the work produced by the dance world here [in the U.S.] tries to exist in a world apart. But you have felt that audiences react to your work, making the connections between the work and its surroundings...

MB: Yes, they get it! They react. They laugh. They understand the codes, and they appreciate the work. The problem is that my sensibility is not going to change.

AL: As far as practical conditions--economic, the structure of the artistic community... Has it been a change being here?

MB: A total change, yes!

AL: And has it affected your work? Advantages? Disadvantages?

MB: Yes, it was a total change. It took me a lot of work to adjust to the system of production here, the conditions. At first, I started to do things as I had in Cuba. That is: find a space and people that want to work with me; get together and make works until I feel that they are good and show them to presenters until they program the pieces. I did that until I started to apply for and receive grants. At one point, I decided to create a non-profit. Lots of papers. They offered me a course in Arts Business. I found a lawyer. But in the end, I went back. Cuba-style. I hole myself up in a space and make things I like, and when I need money for something, I apply for a grant and that’s it.

AL: And it wasn’t easier in Cuba where you had your dancers and all that?

MB: Yeah, a thousand times easier. Of course, of course. Now I figured out the way to produce work here. It has been a lot of work, but when I want to make something here, I have a thousand people that want to work with me. If I have money at that moment to pay because I have a research grant, great. If not, the people who can’t work if they don’t get paid, don’t do it. I work with those who can and, at some point, they are going to start to earn money because, hopefully, the work is good and it gets presented. That’s what has happened up to this point. And each time I have more money. Often I ask for grants and they don’t give them to me, but normally... Now I am in the grants “system” here.

AL: And Cuba, does it remain a level of your work, of your thinking?

MB: I think it is a level that has passed, that I have now superseded. Not that that is better or worse, but I see myself as far away from that by now.

AL: What I was thinking of in particular was whether the themes that were a part of your work there continue to have a presence in the work now?

MB: For me, Cuba as a theme does not interest me. Not at all. There is nothing left to say. It doesn’t interest me to say any more about that, about that country, about that system because I don’t believe that anything is going to change, absolutely nothing. I feel very used. At some point I said, “If I continue talking about this, I am being an accomplice to it because I am sure that it is not going to change.” I spoke about these things because I thought they were going to change, that it was going in a positive direction. But when I saw that the negative direction was not going to change ever, I got tired of talking about the same thing. It didn’t interest me anymore. And being here, I have not spoken of being an emigré. I chose to leave Cuba because I wanted to, not because I had to. To the contrary, I left at the high point of my career. I was very free. I had absolutely no problems with Cuba. I left because I wanted to leave, to have another experience. Because of that, I don’t have the nostalgia of the immigrant, nor is immigration a problem for me at all. I don’t have any problem of that sort. As a theme, nothing.

What remains is that I see things here from the same point of view from which I looked at them in Cuba, the same need to speak about a place... I saw Obama and said, “And now? Now what?” It is the first time that I agreed with a president. Well, I was in agreement with Fidel until the 80s, until I began to feel like there was injustice everywhere... from then on, I became an artist of permanent opposition. When Obama was campaigning, I said, “I agree with all of this,” but then the [economic] crisis started... Decadere is a work of the crisis in the United States. It is like El pez de la torre in Cuba; it is the work of the crisis. Decadere is the work of the crisis of the Capitalist system. That’s why the title refers to decadence. In fact, I cite two previous works--Fast Food and El pez. Moments from these works are re-edited here. Fast Food and El pez were the works of the crises of ‘93 and ‘96, and this work is the work of the crisis now, and I re-use moments and cite them here in a new way. But always purposefully.

AL: And are you creating works with the hope that there will be change here [in the U.S.]?

MB: I think, by now, no. Let’s see, I think... how to explain it? This is a good question. I don’t know if I lost hope, the faith that art can change things. That’s it. I think that I lost that faith. Better said, what I always feel is the necessity to express things that are going on around me--pains, limitations on people, those I see, my own, like a permanent scream. The work doesn’t talk; it screams. Until I have found that scream, I cannot create anything. So, my work is always asking for help, but it is not that I think that it can change something. I don’t believe that, no. Show, I think it can show something, put forth a scream.

In Decadere, there is a lot about the question of culture, about multi-culturalism. I am analyzing cultural reactions to a particular situation. For example, in the U.S., the workplace seems to me a very oppressive space, very strange. And what happened for Latinos and Americans in that same space? What are their affective reactions? I am exploring the question of culture, but much more broadly than just Cuba, at the level of the Latino and American, the Anglo and the Latino.

AL: I heard you speak about being happy about presenting your works within Latino and Latin American cultural contexts...

MB: Yes, touring these works, bringing groups from the U.S. to Latin America, I feel that at intellectually, culturally, on a very small scale, I am supporting something. For example, Philadelphia, to bring people from that city to feel our culture from the inside. Yes, that makes me feel very good.

AL: And the next step. Where are you headed?

MB: I think, in my next work, I want to use computation of some kind, a form of processing of the image live, to work with digital design artists. There are very interesting people in Philadelphia working on Digital Art... not just having a laptop in the wings, but having a computer on the stage processing images. And how to incorporate this world so that it has the same process of incorporation into the action, that I can really contextualize it into the work. I mean, as a challenge to me: Get to the point of using these technologies, maintaining the same principles of construction, of dramaturgy, etc. I am very interested because I believe it is going to give new possibilities for presenting the dancer’s body on the stage... a new element that can enrich the work. I think that I have a need that drives this. I am very curious. I now know a lot about the cameras, projectors, but now I want... I want to learn a great deal about this, as well.

AL: And in terms of the effects of all this equipment on the body, especially on the trained body of the dancer, what is it that interests you? How do you see this?

MB: Well, the first thing is that it can be like a cinematographic version parallel to the version on stage. I always envied film a lot. Film can get to certain levels, get into the body at some levels that I can’t do on stage. And that is what has fascinated me in relation to the movement and the body--that you can see the granules of the dancer. How does a granule dance? How does a pore dance? You know, that thing of seeing the dance the way the camera offers it to you. The camera offers new perspectives on the choreography, on the body itself.

AL: But it also changes the behavior of the body, both being seen and also, as I felt in False Testimony, working the camera changes how one moves.

MB: That’s true. There are a set of behaviors when a dancer is being filmed--the relation with the image. I mean, new points of view, new focus, perspectives. It is like a fifth wall, a fifth wall... It is a fifth wall that you have awareness of or not. I mean, there are the four walls and one more wall that the image brings. That just occurred to me. Ah, the interview should be called “The Fifth Wall.”

AL: Yes! For sure. One last one... Dance as the center of your work. It is just because it is?

MB: Yes, it is because it is, because I believe in the body as the source of expression, as a primordial source. That’s the thing. I mean, for me, I’ve always maintained that. It seems that there is an energy in the body. It’s not mental; it comes from memory, from memory that, you know, begins way, way out there, it begins... The body is full of memories past and future, so... I believe in the truth in the body... The body as energy of all types, coming from other expressive elements. And when I say “the body”, I do not mean just the physical body, the motivating body, the mental body... the body as the base of expression. And beyond that, that theory that I have that the dancer who has educated her body so fully, therefore, has a special sensitivity that allows her to use the voice, as well... whatever element she wants from that sensitive body... y ya.


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    Gina Athena Ulysse: Voodoo doll, or What if Haiti were a woman

    Photo/Foto: FRAN POLLITT Voodoo Doll Or What If Haiti Were A Woman: On Ti Travay Soi 21 Pwen Or An Alter(ed)native In Something Other Than Fiction An avant-garde meditation on coercion and consent inspired by Gédé – the Haitian Vodou spirit of life and death - that weaves moments in Haiti’s geopolitical history with responses to my retelling of that history. Biography Gina Athena Ulysse was trained as a cultural anthropologist, and she is also a poet/ performer and multi-media artist. She deploys spoken word to both explore and push the blurred border zones between ethnography and performance. Ulysse weaves…

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  • Gigi Otálvaro-Hormillosa: Cosmic Blood

    Gigi Otálvaro-Hormillosa: Cosmic Blood

    Photo/ Foto: Marlène Ramírez Cancio Cosmic Blood 'Cosmic Blood' explores the concept of mestizaje, a Spanish word used to describe the race mixture of Spanish and indigenous blood as a result of colonialism, from a perspective informed by history, contemporary culture and racial formation and creative, spiritual speculation about the future. The performance aims to illustrate the contradictory aspects of mestizaje in which the genocide and rape of one race led to the creation of a new race. Furthermore, it looks to redefine mestizaje to incorporate mixed race and queer identities, portraying subversive yet fluid identities to dismantle the binaries…

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  • Giuseppe Campuzano: Transvestite Museum

    Giuseppe Campuzano: Transvestite Museum

    Photo/Foto: Marlène Ramírez-Cancio Transvestite Museum Since 2003, Campuzano has been working on the 'Transvestite Museum' project, an exploration of the realities of transvestism, a staging of its aesthetics, and a confrontation between its forms of knowledge and official discourses. This performance explored a transvestite body that performs in order to persist in the face of a denied discourse: ritual turned into spectacle, a queer body whose performance deconstructs and assembles its topics and differences as strategy. The 'Transvestite Museum' appeared at the National University within a geneology of Peruvian ritual dance, always from the body: the bodies of the Chicas…

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  • Gonzalo Rabanal: A Being Said, To Be A Name

    Gonzalo Rabanal: A Being Said, To Be A Name

    Photo/Foto: Julio Pantoja A Being Said, To Be A Name This work puts word and writing in relationship to each other as a violent act, by a man who never learned to read and write. The story tells of his desire to understand the spoken word. The son writes in the voice of his father and the father does the same, but on the body of the son, simultaneously: “The body, the father, and the son, like the stigma of not knowing”. Biography Gonzalo Rabanal studied Audio Visual Communication at the ARCOS Institute, where he began to develop a way…

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  • Grupo de Teatro de Bonecos Giramundo: Cobra Norato

    Grupo de Teatro de Bonecos Giramundo: Cobra Norato

    Photo/ Foto: Julio Pantoja Cobra Norato Biography Grupo de Teatro de Bonecos Giramundo: The artist members of this group – who have been performing through its existence awarded shows such as Cobra Norato – are able to provide their puppets with the ability to interpret complex texts. "Each puppet has a different type of information". The process of creating a play demands hard work on researching. "The manipulation techniques and the material that we use to make the puppets depend on the how the text, the soundtrack and the scenery will be", explains Beatriz Apocalypse, that after her parents' death…

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  • Grupo Galpão: Imaginary Molière

    Grupo Galpão: Imaginary Molière

    Photo/ Foto: Julio Pantoja An Imaginary Molière Biography Galpão was founded in 1982 and is the most important drama group from Minas Gerais and one of the best-considered groups in Brazil and abroad. Some of its performances, such as Romeu e Julieta (staged in "The Globe", in London and in several countries) have made the group internationally known. The most recent repertoire of the group includes: Eduardo Garrido's A Rua da Amargura, Molière's Um Molière Imaginário, Ítalo Calvino's Partido and Gogol's O Inspetor Geral.

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  • Honor Ford-Smith: Letters from the Dead

    Honor Ford-Smith: Letters from the Dead

    Photo/Foto: Marlène Ramírez-Cancio Letters from the Dead Letters from the Dead began as a collectively-created image event commemorating the murder of thousands of youth killed in inner city violence in Toronto's Caribbean diaspora. The event comprises a silent funeral procession in the street. Bringing together the messages from the dead and media reports on violence, and the losses of living, the performance traces one woman’s attempt to bury her grandson and convey his demands for justice in the present. Biography Honor Ford-Smith is Assistant Professor in Community and Environmental Arts, at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University. She is…

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  • Jim Calder & Sigfrido Aguilar: The Alamo Piece

    Jim Calder & Sigfrido Aguilar: The Alamo Piece

    Video documentation of Jim Calder and Sigfrido Aguilars performance The Alamo Piece presented as part of the 2nd Encuentro of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, celebrated in June of 2001 in Monterrey, Mexico under the title Memory, Atrocity and Resistance. The Alamo Piece is a story of hope, history, NAFTA and the transformation of the US-Mexico border. The piece is an energized trip of the imaginary about the poetry and the people of the borderlands. Performance artist, Jim Calder, has toured both solo and company productions throughout the United States and Europe. In New York City his work…

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  • Josh Kun: Border Sound Files

    Josh Kun: Border Sound Files

    Border Sound Files v. 1: An Audio Essay Border Sound Files is an hour long solo performance-lecture that mixes spoken narrative, spoken, history, and spoken critique, with a collage of sound, noise, and music. The piece focuses on the border between Southern California and Northern Mexico and explores it as a transnational field of sound, "an aural border." The piece explores the relationship between sound/music and the following principal areas of investigation: migration (documented and undocumented movement back and forth across the border by migrants, border patrol agents, drugs, and capital); tourism (how US tourism shapes Mexican border realities); and…

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  • Kris Grey: Homage

    Kris Grey: Homage

    photo/foto: Julio Pantoja Homage Homage is an act of gender queer corporeal agency. It is an offering of vulnerability. Homage opens wounds that have healed on my body to reactivate the psychic energy stored there and to invite the audience to eradicate the boundaries between us. Biography Kris Grey/Justin Credible is a New York City based artist whose practice interrogates systems of power through the lens of gender. Their work exists at the intersection of communication, activism, community building, storytelling, lecture, and studio production in mediums two dimensional, three dimensional, and time based.

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  • Larry Yazzie: Mélange of contemporary American performance

    Larry Yazzie: Mélange of contemporary American performance

    Photo/ Foto: Julio Pantoja Fancy Dancing Biography Larry Yazzie: (Meskwaki/Dine) is a World Champion Fancy Dancer who consistently takes top honors at American Indian powwows in the United States and Canada. In 1995, he won the World Championship for the Northern Style Fancy Dance. Larry was raised at the Meskwaki Nation’s homeland in Tama, Iowa (USA). At the age of seven he took up Fancy Dancing. The Fancy Dance is beloved for its flamboyant and colorful regalia, as well as for the physical challenge it poses for powwow competition dancers. Creativity and endurance are tested by song after song at…

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  • L.M. Bogad: Economusic: Keeping Score

    L.M. Bogad: Economusic: Keeping Score

    Photo/Foto: FRAN POLLITT Economusic: Keeping Score Live performance in which economic data from our everyday lives and ongoing global crisis are converted into absurd neoDadaist music. Economusic is a darkly playful and highly audience-participatory event that takes note of, and makes notes from, falling wages, rising sea levels, and other indicators of our suffering and success. Biography L. M. Bogad writes, performs, and strategizes with mischievous artists such as the Agit-Pop, Yes Men, and La Pocha Nostra. He is co-founder of the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army. His performances have dealt with topics such as the Egyptian revolution, the Haymarket…

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  • Luisa Calcumil: It’s Good to See Ourselves in Our Own Shadow

    Luisa Calcumil: It’s Good to See Ourselves in Our Own Shadow

    Photo/ Foto: Marlène Ramírez Cancio It’s Good to See Ourselves in Our Own Shadow Biography Luisa Calcumil has worked in theatre since 1975. She started as an actress, presenting twenty theatre performances and acting in five films of international importance and in various television programmes. Luisa says that Aimé Painé, the first renown Mapuche singer, has had a great influence over her life. Luisa always remembers Aimé saying: "El saber quien es uno es el principio de ser culto" (knowing who you are is the first step of learning). After several years of performing without finding plays where she felt…

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  • María José Contreras Lorenzini: Santiasco

    María José Contreras Lorenzini: Santiasco

    Photo/Foto: Lori Novak Santiasco: Urban Memory Graft Performative dialogue between fragments of testimony made by migrant women in Santiago and the body of the performer in order to create a “corporamic” view of immigration in Santiago. Biography María José Contreras Lorenzini is performer and Doctor of Body Language and Psychology. Her work is comprised of creation and theoretical research on the expressive possibilities of the performative body. She is a member of La Diferencia, a collective that has created a series of performances in response to the Daniel Zamudio controversy. She is also teaches at the Drama School at the…

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  • Marc Bamuthi Joseph: The Spoken World

    Marc Bamuthi Joseph: The Spoken World

    Photo/Foto: Julio Pantoja The Spoken World The Spoken World is a full evening of performance with United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow and 2011 Alpert Award winner Marc Bamuthi Joseph. Through choreopoem, Joseph articulates the story of achieving manhood in the United States through the lens of hip hop, global travel, and urban environmental health. Biography Marc Bamuthi Joseph is one of America’s most vital voices in performance, arts education, and artistic curation. Joseph developed several poetry-based works for the stage including Word Becomes Flesh and Scourge. Joseph has appeared as a commentator on NPR, and carried adjunct professorships at Stanford…

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  • Mapuche Theater Project: Pewma

    Mapuche Theater Project: Pewma

    Pewma The play is based on a particular type of dream, the pewma, which has the power of transmitting messages to its dreamer. The memory of the Mapuche people, heavy with the traumatic experience of genocide, is performed in the present through this dream. Biography The Mapuche Theater Project (led by Miriam Álvarez, Lorena Cañuqueo and Carolina Sorín) is a political theater project founded in 2001, framed within the general contemporary indigenous Mapuche movement in Bariloche, Río Negro province, Argentina.  

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  • Michelle Matlock: The Mammy Project

    Michelle Matlock: The Mammy Project

            The Mammy Project  Original solo work by Michelle Matlock, made up of a series of monologues which explores the influence that the icon, stereotype and myth of “Mammy” has had on contemporary American culture. Biography A native of Washington State, United States, Michelle Matlock graduated from the National Shakespeare Conservatory in New York City. She began developing her debut solo show The Mammy Project in 2001.  

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  • Monica Cabrera: The Victim's System

    Monica Cabrera: The Victim's System

      The Victim’s System We want to laugh at a problem that afflicts the population: the feeling of being a victim, of not being able to deal with circumstances or with a secret nature that forces us to complain. Performer and Wardrobe: Mónica Cabrera, Music and Graphic Design: Claudio Martini, Set: Bonet - Cabrera – Martini, Assistant Director: Ana Bonet, General Production: The Cabrera's Company, Executive Production: La Mosca Blanca. Biography Mónica Cabrera is an Argentinean director, actress and writer whose trajectory has included classical theater, popular theater and children’s theater. As an actress, she works in theater, film, television and…

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  • Nadia Granados/La Fulminante: Encuentro Trasnocheo

    Nadia Granados/La Fulminante: Encuentro Trasnocheo

    Photo/Foto: FRAN POLLITT La Fulminante Nadia Granados performs live re-creations of audiovisual materials, playing with obscene language, sexual material, and emancipatory content. She touches on themes related to globalization, the anti-imperialist struggle, and against the model of power relations imposed by the machismo that is so ingrained in Latin America. Biography Nadia Granados, La Fulminante, is a Colombian artist interested in the arts of space, movement, and the body such as video, pornography, magic, installation, and performance. Her work is characterized by the resignification of content extracted from mass media, mixed with themes related to the antiglobalization struggle.

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  • Navarrete X Kajiyama Dance Theater/ José Navarrete & Debby Kajiyama: The Revenge of Huitlacoche

    Navarrete X Kajiyama Dance Theater/ José Navarrete & Debby Kajiyama: The Revenge of Huitlacoche

      The Revenge of Huitlacoche Huitlacoche is a swollen black fungus that grows on ears of corn. A culinary delicacy in Mexico, it is considered a pest in the United States. This will be a multi-media performance about revolutionary acts, faith and survival, food sovereignty and dangerous border crossings. Biography José Navarrete & Debby Kajiyama are dancers based in Oakland, California (US). Their contemporary dance theater vocabulary has been enriched by their studies of Japanese percussion, Latin American social dances, and the cultural significance of the practice of these community-building art forms.

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  • Nirvana Marinho: Body in Another Body

    Nirvana Marinho: Body in Another Body

          Body in Another Body This choreography project arises from the need to question the ways dance is learned: imitation, copy, innovation, reproduction, creation. Biography Nirvana Marinho is a dancer and dance theorist. She is a member of the Dance Research, Education and Aesthetics Group at the UNESP, and of the Arts Creation Group at the PUC, Brazil.

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  • Núcleo Bartolomeu: Mestizo Orpheus

    Núcleo Bartolomeu: Mestizo Orpheus

    Photo/Foto: Julio Pantoja Mestizo Orpheus: A Brazilian Hip-Hopera Mestizo Orpheus tells of the return of a politician to his past and his connection to military dictatorship. A phone call about the disinterment of the body of his companion, Eurydice, puts Orpheus in contact with a past that he has tried for years to forget. As a result of this conflict, the text inspired by the Orphic myths brings characters from throughout time onstage to guide Orpheus in his descent into hell. Biography Núcleo Bartolomeu de Depoimentos works with language at the union of hip hop and epic theatre to create…

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  • Pamela Sneed's 'America Ain't Ready'

    Pamela Sneed's 'America Ain't Ready'

    This is a video documentation of Pamela Sneed’s reading/spoken word ‘America Ain’t Ready,’ presented in the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. Sneed delivers scathing and raucously humorous commentary on some of the key issues of our time, taking her audience on a journey through popular culture, American politics, and the New York City underground scene of the '80s and '90s that insists on naming the unnamed and telling the untold. Pamela Sneed is a New York-based poet, performer, writer and actress. She is the author of Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom Than Slavery, published by Henry Holt (1998)…

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  • Pamyua: Live in Concert

    Pamyua: Live in Concert

    Photo/ Foto: Marlène Ramírez Cancio Biography Arctic's (from Alaska and Greenland) performance group Pamyua reinterprets modern traditions of the Inuit and Yup'ik Eskimo through storytelling, music and dance. Pamyua performs Yup'ik danced stories that portray the traditions of the Yup'ik culture in Southwestern Alaska. The quartet also harmonizes ancient and original music that redefine the boundaries of Inuit expression. Pamyua's mixes R&B, jazz, funk, and world music to create a unique new native style. The performances are very dynamic, ranging from traditional dances to Tribalfunk dances – worldmusic.

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  • Patricia Ariza: Where are they? Living Memory. Women in the Public Square

    Patricia Ariza: Where are they? Living Memory. Women in the Public Square

    Photo/Foto: Mateo Rudas Where are they? Living Memory. Women in the Public Square This action will include 300 women, the majority of whom are victims and survivors of violence. Together with theatre and dance artists, they will create a living, active and poetic presence, staging an aesthetics of resistance. This event will help make visible to Colombia and to the world the disappearances and forced displacements, the systematic assassinations of political leaders in the country, and the youth who are presented as "false positives." Those who are missing will be remembered by walking through a series of panels which will…

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  • Quetzal Guerrero: Mélange of contemporary American performance

    Quetzal Guerrero: Mélange of contemporary American performance

    Photo/ Foto: Julio Pantoja   Biography Quetzal Guerrero carries the name "precious feather" in the Aztec-Nahuatl language. As a Suzuki trained violinist, he has studied and performed internationally since the age of 5, playing with legends such as Tito Puente, Lalo Guerrero and Jorge Santana. He is an accomplished visual artist and actor who trains with Axe Capoeira. As a champion street dancer with Sourpatch, he has appeared with H.T.Chen and Company of New York and was invited to perform with Mikhail Baryshnikov. He is also a founding dancer at the Earth Dance Theater and awarded in The Naming Ceremony…

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  • Raúl Zurita: La vida nueva

    Raúl Zurita: La vida nueva

    This is a video documentation of the writing of the poem 'La Vida Nueva' in New York City's sky. For this 'performance-acción' or ‘poesía-acción’ (‘poetry-action’), five planes drew white smoke letters silhouetted over the blue sky. The poem was written in Spanish as form of recognition for all the minority groups all over the world. The photographs of this ‘poesía-acción’ are included in the book ‘Anteparaíso’ (‘Anteparadise,’ a bilingual edition, University of California Press, 1986). Raúl Zurita (Santiago de Chile, 1950) is a poet who, along with other artists, created the group CADA, Colectivo de Acciones de Arte, in 1979.…

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  • Reverend Billy: Reverend Billy Preaches

    Reverend Billy: Reverend Billy Preaches

    Reverend Billy Preaches Reverend Billy speaks to people about shopping, sin and salvation.  Biography Reverend Billy is a performer based in New York, United States. Director of the Church of Stop Shopping, a radical performance community that uses the styles of fundamentalist televangelism and works within the tradition of The Civil Rights Movement, The Liberation priesthood of Latin America and ACT-UP.

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  • Rocío Boliver: Between Menopause and Old Age, Alternative Beauty

    Rocío Boliver: Between Menopause and Old Age, Alternative Beauty

    photo/foto: Dexter Miranda Between Menopause and Old Age, Alternative Beauty My proposal aims to demystify the horror of old age in an ironical way, inventing my own deranged aesthetic and moral solutions for the "problem of age." I hope my mockery of this absurd contemporary reality exposes a broken society based on looks and how old age became synonymous with insult. Biography Rocio Boliver (La Congelada de Uva) has been active in the actual international art circuit for the last 20 years. In 1991 she started her performance career with the reading of her porno-erotic texts, concentrating her proposals in…

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  • Rocío Boliver, La Congelada de Uva and Ana de Alba: Sonata for Pussyphone and Voice, opus 140

    Rocío Boliver, La Congelada de Uva and Ana de Alba: Sonata for Pussyphone and Voice, opus 140

    Photo/Foto: Frances Pollitt Sonata for Pussyphone and Voice, opus 140 A concert in four movements performed by a woman who uses a musical instrument called pussyphone (pepáfono)which is played with the vagina. This performance offers a reflection on cultural rights for all audiences. Biographies Rocío Boliver, La Congelada de Uva, has been active in the art world since 1992. She began her career as a performer in 1992 with a reading of her porno-erotic texts, focusing her critique on the repression of women. Ana de Alba is an opera singer, actress and musician who specializes in jazz.

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  • Secos y Mojados: Buried in the Body of Remembrance

    Secos y Mojados: Buried in the Body of Remembrance

                Buried in the Body of Remembrance The immigrant is a divided being. A being marked by having crossed to the other side, always conscious of “here” and “there,” “before” and “after.” After the moment of crossing, the immigrant is never the same. Biography Secos y Mojados is a Latino performance collective co-founded by Violeta Luna (Mexico), Víctor Cartagena (El Salvador), David Molina (Argelia/El Salvador) and its director, Roberto G. Varea (Argentina). Based in San Francisco, California (USA). Roberto Varea (director) was born in Argentina and lives in San Francisco, California, United States, since 1992.…

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  • Silvio de Gracia: Tortured Body / Recovered Body

    Silvio de Gracia: Tortured Body / Recovered Body

      Tortured Body / Recovered Body  This performance is based on the destructive actions that verge on self-agression to allude to the political violence and the flagellation of the Chilean social body under Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship. Biography Silvio De Gracia is an interdisciplinary Argentinean artist. He is the director of HOTEL DaDA, a journal of mail art and visual poetry, and also organizes a video-art festival in Junín, Buenos Aires, Argentina.  

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  • Susana Baca: Live in Concert

    Susana Baca: Live in Concert

    Susana Baca: Live in Concert-2003 With Juan Mediano Cotito, Hugo Bravo Sanchez, David Pinto Pinedo, Serio Valdeos Bensa, and Fernando Hoyle de los Rios Biography Susana Baca is the foremost singer of Afro-Peruvian music. Her music, on Luaka Bop lable, has promoted an awareness of the many cultural contributions of African-Peruvians. Also to this aim, she and her husband Ricardo Pereira are the founders and co-directors of the Instituto Negrocontinuo in Lima.  

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  • Susana Baca: Live in Concert

    Susana Baca: Live in Concert

    Photo/ Foto: Julio Pantoja       Susana Baca: Live in Concert-2005   Biography Susana Baca, the Peruvian vocalist who became internationally renowned with "Maria Lando," a track in the 1995 David-Byrne-produced CD The Soul of Black Peru, has often been compared to Cesaria Evora, from Cabo Verde. It's not surprising; both women have found rich material in folk traditions of their countries, and both sing songs that are rooted in gloomy emotions: pain, nostalgia, longing. Susana Baca is not only one of the greatest divas in South America, she is a tireless researcher, and is largely responsible for the…

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  • Tania Bruguera: Untitled

    Tania Bruguera: Untitled

    Photo/Foto: Paula Kupfer Untitled (Bogotá, 2009) During the Encuentro Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Tania Bruguera presented 'Two Simultaneous Performances.'  Although their projects emerged from different geographical contexts and different performance languages, Bruguera and Gómez-Peña engaged in a 'performatic conversation' whose goal was to 'coexist and co-create a parallel, temporary universe' as 'an act of international reconciliation.' This is a video documentation of Tania Bruguera’s contribution to the conversation, 'Untitled (Bogotá, 2009),' presented as part of the artist's series around political stereotypes of specific countries. In this controversial piece, Bruguera brought together a panel of Colombian people who had been directly affected…

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  • Teatro Esquina Latina: Cuentos Eróticos Africanos

    Teatro Esquina Latina: Cuentos Eróticos Africanos

    Photo/ Foto: Marlène Ramírez Cancio Cuentos Eróticos Africanos: El Decamerón Negro Cuentos Eróticos Africanos is based on The Black Decameron, a compilation of African folk stories by anthropologist Leo Frobenius. This is a shortened piece of the original production of Teatro Esquina Latina, with two actresses instead of the original four. The play is a spectacle of storytelling that creates the scene, for young people and adults, of the daily life, humor, and the game of love in the land that is Africa. Biography Teatro Esquina Latina is a cooperative student theatre group founded in 1973 at the Universidad del…

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  • Tito Vasconcelos: Martita, Primera Dama and others

    Tito Vasconcelos: Martita, Primera Dama and others

    Video documentation of Tito Vasconcelos' solo performance presented during the 2nd Encuentro of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, celebrated in June of 2001 in Monterrey, Mexico under the title 'Memory, Atrocity and Resistance'. A parody of Mexican politics and a queering of the Mexican political landscape, in this performance, Vasconcelos is in 'drag' as Martita, President Vicente Fox's then partner, on her way to become First Lady of Mexico. Tito Vasconcelos is Professor of Theatre at the National University of Mexico (UNAM). His film credits include María Novaro's 'Danzón', and Jaime Humberto Hermosillo's 'Esmeralda Comes at Night' (English)…

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  • Trasnocheo for José

    Trasnocheo for José

    The Hemispheric Institute's 9th Encuentro, held at Concordia University in Montréal, Canada, sought to explore the multiple valences of the term MANIFEST! How are performances mobilized and syncretized in civic, community, and cultural contexts to create manifold forms of political expression? How do public, theatrical events produce ‘evidence’ that manifests ideas otherwise invisible, hidden, or unspeakable? What new manifestations, manifestos, festivals, and manifs emerge via our changing visions of political spaces, intellectual arenas, and the everyday street? The 2014 Encuentro invited artists, activists, and scholars to engage with and investigate the aesthetic, social, and choreographic techniques that transform political ideas…

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  • Vicky Holt Takamine, ‘Îlio‘ulaokalani Coalition: Hula as Resistance

    Vicky Holt Takamine, ‘Îlio‘ulaokalani Coalition: Hula as Resistance

    Photo/Foto: Paula Kupfer Hula as Resistance The chants and dances that are used in this performance praise and honor native Hawaiians' gods and chiefs. They celebrate their beloved lands, and call for unity and solidarity. Biographies Vicky Holt Takamine is the founder and kumu hula (master teacher) of Pua Ali'i 'Ilima, a school of traditional Hawaiian dance. In addition, she teaches hula at UH Manoa and Leeward Community College. She graduated through the 'uniki rituals of hula from Maiki Aiu Lake. Vicky received her BA and MA in Dance Ethnology from the University of Hawai'i. Since 1997, she has coordinated…

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  • Violeta Luna: NK 603: Action for Performer & e-Corn

    Violeta Luna: NK 603: Action for Performer & e-Corn

    Photo/Foto: Julio Pantoja NK 603: Action for Performer & e-Corn This is a reflection on genetically-modified corn and its disastrous consequences for life—for the original natural species as well as for the communities that have cultivated corn since ancient times, developing entire cultures around it. Biography Violeta Luna is an actress and a performance artist. She obtained her graduate degree in Acting from the Centro Universitario de Teatro in Mexico City. Since 1998 she has been an associate artist of La Pocha Nostra under the direction of Guillermo Gómez-Peña. Her current work explores the relationship between theater, performance, and community…

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  • Violeta Luna: Requiem for a Lost Land

    Violeta Luna: Requiem for a Lost Land

    Photo/Foto: Julio Pantoja Requiem for a Lost Land Requiem is a performative intervention, by way of ritual, to remember the murders committed during the “war on drugs” initiative implemented by Mexico’s central government. Requiem is an attempt, from the realm of performance art, to open with a coroner’s knife the discourse of death put forth by those in power under the guise of “national security.” Biography Violeta Luna is a performance artist and activist whose work explores the relationship between theatre, performance art and community engagement, using her body as a territory to question and comment on social and political…

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  • Welcome Ritual

    Welcome Ritual

      Photo/ Foto: Marlène Ramírez Cancio At the opening ceremony of the Encuentro in Belo Horizonte, led by the the Maxacalí (photo above) and the Kaiapó/Mebengokré from Brazil, representatives from indigenous groups from throughout the Americas exchanged dances, songs and words to welcome all the participants to the 10-day event.

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