Before I move on to the Cecchetti research I want to clear something really important to me. And that is the reason why I dance and why I decided to start choreographing with ballet vocabulary.
But before I bore you with my writting, I will make you curious about some Cecchetti excercises that are extremely difficult, so you will start changing your mind about what can or not be "outdated".
This excercise I took it from Julie Cronshaw's collection of videos in balletsecretcode.com and If I am not wrong, I should have ended that chassé in a stretched arabesque, not in plié, but anyways, this is my 10th attempt of this movement, and this time I tried it in POINTE SHOES. I was trying it already in demi pointe at home in my kitchen. This I tried after professional training. (This training is given by a dear ballet master who has a lot of experience in Vaganova and Cecchetti. I am lucky he is living in Berlin and get the chance of taking his training.)
Now, back to the "boring" part. To whoever it might interest. Why did I decide to choreograph?
The best thing I did in 2019 was collaborating with my husband. He is a Regisseur, a film director. He pushed me to create. Until that year I was just forcing myself to believe that I was just a dancer, and I was still obsessed with becoming whoever I was not. But the truth like I already said it in other posts was that I was not a normal dancer, I was not born with a hypermobile body. So at auditions I would feel extremely bad about my own genetics.
It was like me going against a wall and thinking I was going to solve all my problems if I crushed that wall without noticing that there was a door just behind me.
The trauma from this "mental health" issues was filtered in this first video that we did together: Souls for Sale. You can check it out in my Video Section. If you watch it and you feel unconfortable by watching it, I am glad, because that video was a purge. A purge of a lot of mental struggle.
That was the first purge. Because as my body is not what most people in the Ballet world desire, I had also to make my own way to the professional world. At some point in my career I even sacrificed my own dignity, and had a very humilliating experience in a company. No names are necessary to mention. I have no regrets in my life. And when I think about other dancers that have suffered real abuse, I think I am quite lucky to be born with a not so flexible body and not suffer the real consequences of belonging to the ballet Elite, which most of the cases implies sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse of power.
So please don't look at me like a victim. I am not a victim and I have stopped considering myself a victim a long time ago.
This healing process started with this video. Whenever I would go to auditions I would feel like an object. Not a sex object, important to clarify. This has nothing to do with objectification in a sexual way. At least not in my experience. I am lucky I have never experienced sexual harrassment in the ballet world. I know I am extremely lucky, this has saved me a lot of trauma, but got me less jobs too lol (I have a dark sense of humour, get used to it).
Everytime I was going to audition I felt like an object: as if I was considered a robot with no personnality or brain that had to only obey orders, a tool to be exploited, a person who's intelligence never mattered. Specially this. I felt like I was considered intelectually inferior to whoever I was auditioning for. Now let me say, that I rather be objectified in a sexual way, because at least I know how to use this to my benefit.
But to be considered a brainless opinionless dancing robot, that is the most insulting thing the ballet industry can do to me. I refuse to behave like a child my whole career. I am a woman not a child, A WOMAN. THAT IS WHO I AM. A WOMAN. Read it as many times as you need it. Because I have the feeling that in the ballet world people glorify youth in a kind of strange way.
Now I repeat myself: it is because I NEVER had an experience with sexual harassment WITHIN THE BALLET WORLD, that I have no traumas there. BUT please consider this a unique case, because I know A LOT of dancers experience abuse of power and sexual harassment. I am truly lucky in this department, and this of course does not mean that I have not been sexualy harassed in the streets or in everyday life. Of course I have. But I am really a lucky woman who has a strong father figure and has been taken good care of. I am still a feminist and I am against any kind of sexual harassment in the ballet world. But it is not my position to speak about this since I had no such experiences. For this I always like to listen and read to other dancers experiences, this keeps my feet on the ground and better informed.
Ok. So to me, in the end, auditions were kind of a nightmare because it always came down to my genetic heritage being an obstacle for my career. Then there is something that I have been dealing with for 9 years already:
I love the german language, it has words that make a lot of sense to me. One of those words is HEIMWEH, which can be translated into "the pain you feel when you are missing home".
I miss my Bolivia so much, this pain has been constantly making me very sad, because immigrating has implied to deny my identity in a certain way, but to also make it stronger. And I was not quite sure how to translate this Heimweh into my dancing, because no choreographer has ever done anything that my body would find healing, regarding this specific subject.
Fun Fact: I never went back to Bolivia since I left it 9 years ago. 9 years. My family visited me twice: once in Paris, once in Berlin.
I always wanted to create things with my bolivian culture. Because it has given me so much. I actually have survived and avoided a lot of trauma because I was born in a developping country whose culture is based on love for nature, music and dancing. To ignore my roots has caused me a lot of damage and now that we are all immigrants looking to heal our colonial wounds, I found a way of expressing that Heimweh and to strengthen my identity.
This is how I created this solo. The music from indigenous peasants, from people who resisted genocide, from humans who are constantly being discriminated. These are the people who inspire me today. I absolutely do not care about how many pirouettes a dancer can do. That is to me something pretty to watch, but boring at some point.
This solo has a very deep story behind it. And I plan to dance it more often. Maybe one day I will tell you the story behind it. But it is not time yet. Only to say that my Ajayu is healing, and this solo has has taken my decolonization process to the spiritual level.
Yes. My spirit animal is trully a Llama. If you know me you probably know that I have strong opinions and sometimes I get myself in trouble because of it. Yes, that is my spirit animal. A spitting Llama. I am deeply grateful to the Pacha for connecting me to the right people who are helping me in my healing process. It feels great.
Also, I already talked about it in my first post: I tried to do some contemporary and tried to choreograph with contemporary, but I am usually honest to myself, and well I don't have enough contemporary language to create anything. This is the truth. It would take me more time to reeducate myself in contemporary, than to reinforce my ballet vocabulary.
I can appreciate it very much as an audience, because any dance style has great choreographers (and we all must be able to challenge our academical biases). But it is precisely because I appreciate it that I understand that my place is NOT in the contemporary world. I would really make a fool out of myself there. So this is why I decided to make Ballet my main vocabulary of creation. And around this, to add details that will come from research, brainstorming and creativity.
I am inspired not only by bolivian music. I am also deeply inspired by classical music and classical repertoire. Yes. Classical repertoire is an amazing tool when you focus on history rather than only criticising how irrelevant it is. Tchaikovsky's life, Nijinksy, the Ballet Russes... So much history that can serve creativity... instead of pushing hate towards ballet. So yes, classical repertoire is something that I love, I really do, of course it needs to be actualised but I am just a small dancer, that responsibility belongs to the big institutions. From my part I will indeed create things from my perspective.
This reminds me of the third video that I made. This video I made it as a statement more than choreography. Because I LOVE ballet, and I love classical music. I cannot not love it. Of course not all of it is lovable, we need to be able to ditch the racism, the classism and the toxicity from it. But it is still an interesting path that humans take to reach the sky.
Last but not least. Humans. I want to dance for humans, for people who know absolutely NOTHING about ballet. I think we often forget that we do this for them. Not for some critics. I understand it is important to make things the best way we can. Which is why I am strengthening my technique and enriching my ballet vocabulary. But I will soon destroy all of it when I create. Because I will put bolivian Folk dances to it, I will mix Ballet history with it, I am truly liberating myself from the fear of judgement that is so deep rooted into the ballet mind.
My respect and love will always go to audiences that rarely see ballet because of lack of economical ressources or just lack of interest. I understand that people take no interest in ballet when it is so fake sometimes, and so elitist.
I hope you enjoyed this rather emotional writting after so much technical details in my previous posts. Take a look at the Cecchetti excercise to remind yourself where this research is going.
Next post I will be digging into the Kitschy outdated ballet vocabulary, because we have to be able to challenge our fear to kitschy. The 80s were uncool until someone decided to make it a new trend. Now "vintage" is a trend. Why not making vintage ballet right? Haha, crazy thoutghs of mine.
Speaking of kitschy, just take a look at what Freddy Mamani does. He is a bolivian Aymara Architect, someone who also inspires me very much. He created the neo-Andean architectural style (I rather call it Neo Andean instead of Cholet, because originaly he felt insulted with the word Cholet, and I respect and understand his statement regarding this) and has been deeply critized by the Bolivian academics from the architecture world.
I just love his work, if you are curious about him I share here a link of a documentary about it:
Freddy Mamani, Luzmila Carpio, Eusebio Choque are only some names of Bolivian artists that to me have reached a royalty level. Sorry but I cannot find inspiration in 10 pirouettes or 200° developpés à la seconde anymore. Not impressed by circus. I am impressed by brave humans. Not to mention the unkown names of people who actually fight for their rights under unhuman conditions. These, these humans inspire me to create. See you in the next post about Cecchetti. And keep in mind that I am grateful that there is people in the ballet world that do independent selfless research and work hard to share truthful information like Eric Conrad or Julie Cronshaw, the two main sources of information that I am using for this Laboratory. I appreciate people who just want to share good information. But I will not devote myself to defend anyone. I am looking for my independence and rather keep the good information with me, and the unnecessary rest to whoever responsability it corresponds. Like I said, I am done with being part of ideologies and cults. I will not put my hands to the fire for anyone. Janiwa.
Gefördert durch die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien im Programm NEUSTART KULTUR, Hilfsprogramm DIS-TANZEN des Dachverbands Tanz Deutschlands.