Hello Bruno, how are you?
All right. Thank you and your Bruno.
Tell me, what are you currently doing?
I recently discovered warm water (laughs Bruno). Yes, I have discovered warm water but from an approach to a specific technique: Flamenco. I refer to this because for me the present time is the present time. So after two years of immersion in a technique in which I did not imagine being able to execute it I am surprised to see myself totally immersed.
But you are a dancer who comes from a formation of classical ballet and contemporary dance, which are the purest forms of doing dance. Why do flamenco?
There are many explanations, among which I can firstly find myself with the great luck of having had an exceptional teacher (Juan Carlos Lérida), the second reason is that flamenco has managed to connect with me as Pauline Oliveros would say with my intuitive and emotional part of my personality, a third reason is because it breaks with the orthodox paradigm about which bodies are allowed to dance flamenco (only Spanish bodies), but as you know I am Mexican, and the fourth and last reason is because flamenco makes noise.
The last thing seems interesting. Does flamenco make noise? I had a completely different idea where the mastery of the dancers, musicians and cantaores created a harmonious composition and that this traditional composition is subject to strict artistic canons.
In fact, you are absolutely right about traditional flamenco, the one that is commonly taught, commercialized and learned is like that and the institutions and conservatories are in charge of maintaining this slogan. It is a very strict and precise artistic canon. But for me, flamenco has given me the chance to discover the manifestation of my body. In a strict sense and during this last work I have discovered the reason why I have felt attracted to flamenco, and it is not its complex artistic field, it is in a few words the «zapateado». In the zapateado I have found something that in my academic training I had been denied, the noise. In classical ballet and contemporary dance as western dances or led by Europe and North America they seek the technification of bodies, whether classical ballet through complex systems or contemporary dance arguing its «neutrality» of movement, aspects to which I have submitted, but cancel out my spontaneity.
Can you explain why you did an extraction of the zapateado?
In the zapateado I could find a movement or an action that detonates something in me. Thanks to the pelvic movement of Shirley Harthey as the basis of her work entitled «Juck», I have been able to identify that in my flamenco practice what has hooked me to it, and I found that it is the zapateado and its consequences. The zapateado for me, as a dancer is a transgression of the rules of the West, making noise. That noise has reflected information to me, it’s like an abstract telegram that I can’t decipher, that sends a message to space through my body and returns to myself. In such a way that I have set myself to prove that the zapatear produces in my body an energy of expulsion and that recently thanks to tecnosomatics, a practice of Frédéric Gies, it is that it can relate this with the arterial circulation / venous circulation. In a few words for me zapateado connects me in different levels: kinetic, perceptive, somatic, social, artistic and also political.
Fine, but don’t you think there can be the problem of cultural appropriation?
I have been careful in that aspect, first because I have made a study of this artistic field not only from practice, but also from anthropology, history, sociology and philosophy. And of course I can be directly accused of cultural appropriation, but if we go to the development and concretion of flamenco as a dance, we will find many aspects that have instrumentalised it, such as the appropriation of fascist whiteness itself during Franco’s time, the import of a dance elaborated by exiles as a national identity and finally the United Nations Organization (UNO), establishing flamenco as an indestructible and intangible heritage. Now as a strict concept, I am not profiting from flamenco, rather, I go back to a basic concept and have sought to share my experience with other flamenco dancers. So much so that I have had talks with my own professor Juan Carlos Lérida, Paloma Madrid and Sofia Castro on this subject, exchanging opinions, and if the Spanish white body appropriated Gypsy flamenco, I as a racialized person from a colonized country, in any case would be doing a little historical justice.
This work is titled «Saca el cuerpo a Pasear», What is it?
For me it is an approach to these experiences (kinetic, perceptive, somatic and political), which gives me hybridism. To take the body out, for me is not to show it, it is to take it to go through everything that the zapateado produces with its arterial circulation and its noise, but to find me with this sense of expelling, other things have unfolded more as a consequence. In physiological terms to complete the blood circulation there must be the venous return, or the venous circulation which is the one that brings or collects all the toxins to the heart in order to re-oxygenate our blood. Thus, as I integrate this recollection I discover spiral movements that look for an epicentre, that bring space and the body inwards. The spiral, will be one of the principles that has helped me to balance the effect of zapateado in my body, and flamenco has many spirals (but not only flamenco). My act of academic memory in classical ballet with the épaulement and graham spiral has come to my body allowing my body to be hybrid. I am playing with the aesthetic patterns that have colonized my body and I seek to hack them, I seek to play with them. In short, «»Saca el cuerpo a Pasear» becomes an experience, it becomes a dance as a result, not a dance as a product. For this to happen, I started by formulating an antecedent practice called «open source».
What´s «open source» like? What is it? I don’t think you’re making a bit of a mess.
Yes, I know it’s a bit of a mess (laughs Bruno). Because how does it all start? If you remember what I mentioned, what attracted me to flamenco is the zapateado; then I forgot the rhythms, the guitars, the cantaores and I went straight to that. The zapateado produces a telegram, it produces a pulse. I remember in a practice with Andreas Berchtold his analysis of the principles that the focklor brought to the subdivision of the pulse in walking. From there, already having a certain intuition I decided to work on this very thing, in the identification of a musical pulse to later subdivide it in double, in triple until its maximum divisory and also physical possibility; and in the same way in slowing down. I was trying in silence, with music and I found that I could coexist with space and music, not just obeying it.
The relationship between music and dance has always been complex, while classical ballet and folkloric dances rely on it, postmodern dance emancipates from it. Do you think that in this project you coexist with it, how?
As I mentioned in the exploration of open source, I also worked from silence, the random was also something that was proposed, the traditional or the literal. But I discovered that having a base helps to maintain an energetic tone, it helps my being. In this case, the music I propose approaches percussion, a mixture of Caribbean rhythms, Afro-descendants, jazz, which at times help breakthroughs and allow the coexistence with it to be interesting.
But I must say that in the constant practice of open source I was kept at a level of order, that is, there was the possibility of progressive subdivision but within a rule. Then I wondered how to break my own rules. And I thought and tried, well it can be in the involuntary, in the lack of control, since this the music that will help me to return to an order. In this case, contemporary dance has explored a lot in this field, but always as a kinetic and visual effect, but not as a sound.
Trying the imbalance with the zapateado has made me connect with the «duende» of flamenco, this Dionysian experience that leads you to generate from the not absolute conscience, from the anti minimalist, from the not neat, the not apollinear. In this case, the experience with Lisa Jambell in her exposition about improvisation from Afro-Cuban dances and Santeria has led me to connect with some previous work in which I had been an interpreter. And that made me think that this concept of «duende» does not only belong to flamenco, but it is possible to find it in other dances, especially in non-Western dances.
Duende and Santería. Why connect them? how do you get to this link between them?
I must clarify that as an artist I am very interested in the decolonial perspective, lately I have read a lot of Franz Fanon, who was a psychiatrist, philosopher and Caribbean writer of Martinique origin whose work was of great influence in the revolutionary movements and thinkers of the 1960s, and that within his text «The Condemned of the Earth» talks about the need to sublimate the violence that people enslaved during the colonial era suffered, this through various ways, including dance. The dance that could connect with the Catholic religion being imposed by the colonizers, and that was an ideal community moment to be able to transmute that violence exerted on their bodies. For me, I find in the duende that way of being able also to sublimate the violence that the gypsy peoples still suffer today. It is thus that by means of imbalance, but without religion and without direct violence (but maybe on the sistemic violence) I try to reproduce this state in my body. Maybe I can find something that I still don’t know about myself.
But doesn’t this take you away from flamenco?
In fact, it leads me to another state, to something else that I still can’t name. It leads me to something bastard that fortunately surpasses me. Maybe Chauchat (2017) in her text «Generative Fictions, or How Dance May Teach Us Ethics» when she mentions Barad and her theory of agential realism, helps me a little to look at in a complex way how everything I try to develop in such a short time of 10 minutes is connected, in a specific space and in my body. I feel that same thing that I pass through the zapateado and its arterial circulation, through the spiral of the movement and its venous circulation. And that through its consequences I am not yet able to determine at all. What I can experience during work is not only to feel like I’m in flamenco, but many more memories are stirred by coming to my folkloric dances, dances from the countryside, dances from other latitudes that I may only observe, that I may only have danced once. What if I’ve moved away from flamenco? I think it’s very good.
you think that staying away from flamenco could mean a new encryption
of the language?
Of course, it could be a new encryption if a way of doing it is systematized. Gutierrez (2018) in his text «Does Abstraction Belong to White People?» makes it quite clear to me that this ability to synthesize information and the world is not typical of whites. However, my whitening as an artist who has passed through the European academy, makes my bases of composition respond to a Western order. Entering into debate and the fact that this type of manifestations such as flamenco, Afro-Cuban dances, and others can be categorized as «dances of the world» causes the mechanism of abstraction of other peoples or knowledges to be diminished in the exoticization not only by an artistic order, but also by an economic, epistemic and political order. Perhaps this last point about my approach to the political comes to take shape here. Since I am not interested in representing a traditional dance, I am interested in the processes that have helped these collectivities to be able to concretize these dances. The only way I find (although there is the risk of anthropological reconstruction) is to make my body pass, and in the future other bodies through an experience close to the detonators. I am interested in bombarding the field of dance with other non-Western knowledge, bombarding the concept of the «present» that postmodern dance has appropriated and used to invalidate or diminish other dances. For me, zapateado is that constant bombardment of precision, of neatness, because it bursts into physical space, the earth, the air and the flesh to protest but not to please. Through this work I have understood something, and that I rescue from the open lecture «Composition as Research» given by Juliette Mapp based on the contributions that Pauline Oliveros (2005) makes from the Deep Listening, saying that:
«Hearing is something that happens to us because we have ears -it is our primary sense organ. Listening is something we develop and cultivate our whole life, and maybe all of our lifetimes.
Listening is what creates culture. Listening is very diverse and takes many different froms as cultures take many different forms.»
Do you think this listening has revealed something to you?
Of course this listening has revealed a lot to me, this listening has revealed to me that my body reveals itself, struggles and continues to look for reasons to continue dancing, to continue creating and above all to continue teaching. In my present, almost for graduating as a dance pedagogue. This makes me rethink where I want to continue transmitting dance, where I want to do my dance and is looking for my dance.
Chauchat, A, (2017) Generative Fictions, or How Dance May Teach Us Ethics, Andersson, D, Edvardsen, M, Spångberg, M (ed 2017). POST-DANCE, publicerad av MDT 2017: Retrieved from: https://www.academia.edu/34819483/Generative_Fictions_or_How_Dance_May_Teach_Us_Ethics(2018-01-29)
Fanon, F. (1961). The Condemned of the Earth. Rosario: Collective Ed. Ultimo Recurso.
Gutiérrez, M. (2018). Does abstraction belong to white people? Thinking the politics of race in contemporary dance. BOMB Magazine. Retrieved from: https://bombmagazine.org/articles/miguel-gutierrez-1/.