We had our very first dialogue with dancers, teachers and choreographers from Bolivia! We invited different groups traditional, contemporary, classical and urban as well as individuals…It was great! With more than 50 people we discussed and exchanged the dance field in Bolivia especially focused on tradition and renewal and came to a first diagnostic. It is great to be in a country that still is connected with their roots and that knows their rituals, music and dances but at the same time we also see and hear that this also can be difficult. Especially for the traditional groups, because they dance to the rhythms that everybody in Bolivia knows by heart. Public sees folklore in the streets with festivities, they dance it themselves on the streets, so to make a difference in the theatre became for most of those traditional groups a difficult task! So we are more than welcome here, because of their need to re-invent their dance tradition. Of course they look a lot what is happening outside the country in Europe and America. And try to copy paste the techniques and forms on to their “andean stories”, which in my eyes is a pity. They have such a long cultural history to feed themselves with inspiration. We are very inspired by that and by investigating in their rhythms and dances we develop tools with the dancers to let them see and approach their dance culture from a different angle. For that they need time and…money of course. Like everywhere else living from dance is hard work. So dedicating your self five days a week to investigate in your dance is for the most dancers in Bolivia impossible! Even if you work within a company. Of course the times of the colonization left its footprints too, in the culture and mentality, so by giving the dancers tools to investigate in their own body language they discover al the different layers of body memory and reveal a rich knowledge of movement. And also the influence of media and internet is quite big…
But at the same time there are artist living here that really want to develop something from out their authenticity. And we are more than happy that we met and are able to work with them.
Vincent: Before the dialogue took place we had interviews with a journalist, Noritah Benitez Díaz who became our talk master for the dialogue. She has an enormous knowledge about the origins of dance in Bolivia, about rituals and traditions and with her help we were able to distil our questions and formulate them for the dialogue. At a certain point the debate became really a life and I must say it was a joy to see people talking and sharing. What has struck me from the time I have been here visited the country is the enormous amount of knowledge of their culture a living culture shared by everyone. Knowing their dances and songs. The amazing thing is that where we as western culture have developed a structure, academies to write and organise our heritage their heritage is being shared physically without writing it down and creating methodologies for them to deepen their knowledge about their culture it’s being passed down physically. My interest coming from “Los Paises Bajos” where we are not use to dance or know a lot about our cultural dances it is a great opportunity to investigate the cultural dances of Bolivia. To this moment there is no technique to be learned as in classical ballet no method but to learn the choreography. As they have a lot of them it is a fountain of inspiration to renew, investigate and translate them into a contemporary context.
From the people that joined the dialogue, which was mainly the new generation, we experienced a lot of openness to us and to each other, which we felt was very important. We truly believe the next generation will take some amazing steps to the older generation, and in some of the work, which we have seen you can see change is happening in the work being presented.
The Impro Jam…
After the dialogue was finished we initiated our first Impro Jam with all the different dancers and life music. It keeps us surprising how improvisation works and how different people meet each other in a space where it’s really about experimentation, investigation and off course composing in the moment. Was it a good Impro? Yes it was, but more in the sense that for the first time all these dancers with different backgrounds had a chance to meet and play without judging one another.
We get trapped a lot in judgment and sometimes forget to see the opportunities when we really physically are interacting with another dancer. New material arises, new ways of looking at how to move when to move, To let yourself being overwhelmed, touched, manipulated, initiated, directed by others you get a real chance to refresh to how you look at movement and others.
Improvisation allows us to exist within a space where no judgment and judgment can take place at the same time where we really have a time to accumulate different ideas and may set you into a new path. But it can also really reflect your obstacles but in a way there is a chance to deal with them from another angle either by the way others react to your movement your presence or by oneself in what you think means a lot, means nothing in the moment – making it easier to let it go and attack it from a whole different side.
As we stepped in the Impro dynamics shifted, different themes were approached and we felt freedom and playfulness.