by Megan Stein
Though the Argentine Festival’s last three pieces, Llueve, Plano Difuso, and The Stab were seemingly unconnected, each subtly revealed the inner workings of the personas on stage, collectively creating a multi-faceted approach to the meaning of identity.
The first piece, Llueve, was a collage of intimacies, as if different impressions in the three dancers’ memories were being acted out for the audience through dance in a loosely related order of events. In the post-performance discussion, co-choreographer, Gabriela Prado discussed how the piece was inspired by impressions they had or had witnessed in their lives, including, in large part the effects of economic turmoil in Argentina.
Prado and Estévez both left Argentina in 2001, when strikes, riots, and protests were held concerning President Fernando de la Rua’s resignation from office after his failure to restore the Argentine economy, which he promised to do when elected in 1999. Argentina was in trouble, with increasingly high unemployment rates, inflation continuing to rise, and the loss of citizens’ personal pensions, to name a few problems. Prado and Estévez went to Europe to separately study movement. When they returned a year later, they were touched by the country’s poverty and troubled state of affairs. “It was a bit like looking in from the outside, because we had been gone.” They started working on Llueve, using the daily occurrences in Argentina, as well as in their own lives, as their point of departure.
To the dancers in Llueve, “Everything is connected,” a philosophy that makes a work about inner workings of their country also about personal lives in that country. The dancers wrote that intimacy “is the only space in which we can hide form onlookers, being each one unique and invisible to outsiders,” thereby creating an interesting scenario where the dancers are revealing parts of their memories to the audience, as though there was no one watching. This idea made Llueve a piece wholly comforting, even in its most revealing moments.
At one point Prado and dancer Luis Biasotto (also of the Argentine group Krapp, who performed in the first part of the festival) were standing smiling with their heads tilted to the side, as though they were posing for a picture. Prado then fell repeatedly, with violent throws of the body. Each time Biasotto helped her up and caressed her face. Prado said that this part of the work was about trying to get out of a photograph, or trying to get out of a situation, and away from Biasotto. She was throwing herself in all directions, because she was trying to leave him and a situation that she didn’t like. Prado was revealing something extremely intimate to the audience, that she wanted to but could not escape from a situation, a relationship, and watching her try and fail in a manner that suggested she didn’t know she was being watched felt equally indecent and compulsory.
While Prado and Estévez’s piece almost made you feel guilty to be watching something so obviously intimate, as if you were reading someone’s diary, the final pieces of the Argentine Festival, Edgardo Mercado’s Plano Difuso and Susana Tambutti’s The Stab were both snapshots of their soloists’ characters, entirely fascinating and entertaining.
Plano Difuso was created by former physicist and mathematician, Edgardo Mercado. Dancer Pablo Castronovo’s character is an individual who wanders an abstract technological setting. Lacking a self-identity, he finds solace in his transformation into an “information being,” just another tiny part that helps run the technological age. The piece shows this transformation in a structured and mathematical way. In the post-performance discussion, Mercado said, “Mathematics helps me to configure space, time and images,” to which Castronovo added, “[Mercado] worked with me on a lot of numbers, lists, and things pertaining to mathematics. He’s a real mathematician.”
The piece used multimedia design to show how the character became decreasingly human, unraveling the complexities of his human life to become simply digital. The same narrative deconstruction of a character was used in Tambutti’s piece, The Stab, though instead of presenting a simplistic digitalized being at the end, the work unveiled the dark inner core of an individual’s struggle between many different personalities. And, also unlike Plano Difuso, The Stab did this humorously. Tabutti said she was influenced by the many layers of every person’s identity, stating that no one has only one identity. Dancer Luciana Acuña (also of the Argentine group Krapp) illustrated this, often adeptly pitting different parts of her body against each other as she paraded a variety of comical, ironic and borderline cartoon characters.
Each piece was about looking inside the minds of the characters on stage, but they were also studies of the choreographers. Each choreographer used strikingly different techniques to portray their subjects. The confessional nature of Llueve, the sterile, numerical language of Plano Difuso, and the comedic schizophrenia of The Stab were approaches that, along with the specifics of the pieces, revealed fragments of the choreographers’ personal (and surely equally as complex) identities.