July 31st 2021, Finland Through Other Eyes Festival, Maunula, Helsinki. Dance installation by Impropias Collective.
cuerpalatina* deconstructs popular dances from Latin America and reinterprets them through dance improvisation, challenging the strict gender-coded movements of traditional pair-dancing. The work arises from the performers’ experiences as foreign women and artists living in Helsinki. It is built around three moments, each establishing a different dynamic between the audience and performers.
Initially, audience members are inside a house, looking at performers through a window. They see dancers appear and disappear as they interact with elements in the garden, indifferent to the audience’s gaze. Each performer has headphones and dances to their personal selection of Latin American music. It is impossible to know what they’re dancing to.
After this first round, the audience leaves the house and goes outside, where performers have restarted their dance. This time, songs are playing on small wireless speakers attached to performers’ clothes. The soundscape transforms as each individual playlist overlaps with the other two, creating a mobile sonic composition. Immersed in this cacophony, audience members move around the space, choosing how to shape their perception and experience.
Individual playlists begin to fade, and performers gather to dance to the same song, which is emerging from inside the house. Once this song is over, another one begins. Little by little, performers extend their hands to participants and invite them to dance. People get closer to each other, tuning in with each other’s movements. Together, performers and participants decide when to stop, finding an ending to the dance.
cuerpalatina‘s choreographic language relies on improvised movement, making room for creativity and transgression beyond cultural stereotypes. Moreover, Latin dances are often over-stylised and might appear out of reach for many people. By bringing the spontaneity of dance improvisation to the forefront, cuerpalatina wishes to disseminate the joy and freshness at the core of several beats from Latin America.
Concept & direction: Mercedes Balarezo Fernández. Performers: Yes Escobar, Paola Nieto Paredes, Daniela Pascual Esparza. Costume design: Yes Escobar. Images: Vitali Gusatinsky. Supported by: The Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike). A 3-minute trailer is available upon request.
About Impropias Collective: Founded by Mercedes Balarezo Fernández, Yes Escobar, Paola Nieto Paredes, and Daniela Pascual Esparza in 2021, Impropias Collective researches Latin American identities from an embodied, situated, and feminist standpoint. In Spanish, “impropia” is the female form for inappropriate, for something inadequate or untimely. It is also a play of words between “improvisation” and “propio”, which means cool and street-smart in Ecuadorian slang. cuerpalatina is their first collaboration.
*In Spanish, a gendered language, the word for “body” (cuerpo) is a “male” word. Cuerpa is a symbolic reappropriation of the word in the “female” form.