What Is My Work About?
Layering movement, sound, and video, my work references the body as a place of sensory experience to explore the colliding worlds of memory, fragmentation, and embodiment.
Having spent over a decade dedicated to research in movement and spirituality in Brazil and the Caribbean, my findings spill over into my artistic practice. Layering movement, video, and sound I create performance for live audiences and camera. Through these mediums, I explore the colliding worlds of memory, fragmentation, and embodiment. I am interested in a performing body that addresses both the experiences of the performer and the viewer, as well as the physical space that they occur in. This is a body that is concerned with sensation and transmission of energy. Using Attuned Movement, an original movement approach I have developed, coupled with post-modern choreographic strategies, I extract ideas of embodiment rooted in Afro- Diasporic spiritual traditions as lines of inquiry that can be applied outside of their religious contexts. Pulling from these realms, I reference the body as a place of sensory experience to construct experiential relationships and situations between performer and viewer in shared spaces. These explorations reconsider both performer and audience bodies and the performance space to explore how space(s) are experienced through feeling and embodiment. They consider how the body registers sensory information to form its perception and relation to time/place and the subjects/objects with in them.
When I think of the body in terms of its physical-expressive language, I am drawn to its sensory function in recalling past experiences and its capacity for transmission and reception of energy. I look to the communal sacred spaces of Afro-Brazilian and Caribbean religious traditions, such as Candomblé and Lukumi, to explore how energy can inhabit different spaces, both seen and unseen, and how both physical spaces and the body become vessels for its activation and diffusion. During ceremony, the sacred space of the terreiro/ ile (temple) brings all elements that are present into conversation with each other to evoke Orixá (deity/spirit) through a call and response between live music, song, and dance. When Orixá manifests itself in the body of a medium through the trans state, it is a continuous retelling and reliving of ancient stories expressed through idioms of movement, sound and gesture. They function together as a complete expression and are in no way separate. Energy is in a constant flux. The temple and the body of the initiate become channels through which spirit communicates to the larger community partaking in the ceremony. Everyone is a participant regardless if they are a witness, an initiate, or a medium embodying spirit. Collectively, they create an undeniable experience, seen, felt, and heard by all present.
I extract ideas from this model, applying them outside of their religious context to a performance dialogue, to investigate how experiential relationships can be constructed between performer and audience in shared spaces, as well as how the body registers information and remembers through the senses. This leads me to various inquiries regarding this subject matter: What is it about a ritual/spiritual space that allows for what I call an activation of space and body, where energy is cultivated and exchanged on a sensory level by those present in a common physical location? How can performance in any space reach a level where it is indulgent and experienced by both the performer and audience? How can performers activate the performance space through their bodies to reach their audience? Are there moments when the performance itself becomes a gateway into memory where performers and audience lose orientation between physical and felt spaces? If sensory memory by nature is fragmented, how can fragmentation be used as a structuring tool to evoke the space of memory in the choreographic and editing process.
In response, I merge fragmented layers of movement, video and sound that center my investigations around the body. Memory is engrained in the fabric of the work. My choreographic practice digs into the individual memories of myself and dancers to generate gesture and movement. It is a creative process that works parallel to that of remembering to re imagine and re create experiences now past. Through this choreographic exercise we remember the sensory details of these places and times and begin to form new expressions of these experiences through our movement. It is through the body that we are able to try on each others memories and create a kinesthetic language to communicate them. I have developed an original approach called Attuned Movement as an entry point into the performing body and as a set of physical possibilities for myself and dancers that establish the foundation for this component of my work. Attuned Movement, explores the intersections of post-modern release based movement with energetic/embodied qualities and uses of the spine, hips and pelvis fundamental to Afro-Brazilian/Caribbean dance. I have found that these distinct dancing bodies share a very similar quality, which I recognize as an available body. This is a full body exploration engaging the movers’ physical possibilities and intuitive-sensory expression, opening them to give and receive energy as they perform.
To further contextualize the movement component of my work, I use video and sound to create a sensory space that is indulgent for the viewer. My footage becomes remnants of sensorial textures from the environments that I filmed in and invites the onlooker to form their own memories of them. These mediums allow me to capture experiential details that may otherwise go unnoticed during live performance. Through weaving layers of information where moving image and sound exist with in and outside of each other, I bend the performer-audience experience to control intricacies of what is being seen, heard and felt outside of real time and place. Primarily, I work with video in two ways: through large scale video projections incorporated into live performance, as well as films that stand on their own. I consider sound to be an extremely visual medium as it provides texture and context for other mediums such as image and movement. In portraying the transitory nature of memory, sound allows the viewer to enter in and out of time and place, functioning to temporarily dislocate the viewer from the present moment that they exist in. I compose recycled ambient noise that I have collected during the filming process, as well as recreate them using other found sounds to achieve similar sensory details that relate to the particular environments and times that they were captured in. Sound and image share the capacity to be disassociated from one another, in turn becoming strong tools to convey how memory is manifested in the body/mind and exists beyond real place and time in a flux state.
My interest in sensory memory stems from my family history of Puerto Rican ancestry in the Hawaiian Islands. My grandmother, now deceased was one of eighteen brothers and sisters, born and raised on a sugar cane plantation. For years I have been recording my ninety-nine year old great aunt Carmela’s stories of her life and our family. Oahu and the Big Island have become a muse of sorts as they are places imbued with personal meaning and memory. I have created a series of work utilizing footage and sound recorded on these islands close to where my grandmother was born and in and inside of my great aunt’s house. These works question how the body and imagination work together as they recall memory, investigating the idea that the space of memory transcends place and time, but cannot exist with out the physical body to register its details.
Works such as Depth of Surface, gandules and Excerpt No.2 all utilize the same footage and sound, offering distinct explorations of the body and its sensory experience of space, time and physical location. Although separate pieces created at different moments for both live performance and video, they are in conversation with one another, reconstructing remnants of memories both of and in these places. Depth of Surface, which premiered at REDCAT’s NOW Festival (2013), is a live performance featuring five dancers, two live musicians and large-scale video projections. As the first of these investigations, it explores the act of remembering as a continuous state of re imagining and re creation of lived experiences. Gandules situates the onlooker from the perspective of the person experiencing and remembering. The body exists in a physical location, while the mind exists in the space of memory, instantly transporting the body back to previous experiences of time and place. The viewer is led between blurred boundaries of real time and the past. Excerpt no.2, a dance for camera, layers movement, visual, and sonic landscapes to explore the fragmentation of memory as it relates to senses. I dance in front of alternating projected images of specific locations moving in and out of them as my body is continuously moving. The body is explored as a place of sensory experience where memory lives within the constructs of the imagination and outside of real time and physical location.
Currently, I am working on a new movement for camera film entitled Roce. Flooding its viewer with an intimate experience of bodies in motion, Roce blurs the distinctions between performer and audience. It strips down any external images representing a sense of place or memory to dive deeper into ideas of embodiment that explore the body for its capacity to transmit and receive energy. It nuances corporeal and experiential details of touch and proximity, focusing its attention on pure movement and sound to capture subtleties of sensation and emotion in the performing body. Through my continued interdisciplinary explorations, I hope to contribute new ideas of embodiment and hybridity to the contemporary dance conversation and create works that engage both visual and performance art audiences.
2014 MFA, Choreography / Dance, Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance University of California, Los Angeles
2008 Certificate, Performance & choreography, Escola de Dança da FUNCEB, Salvador, Brazil 2005 B.A. Latin America Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
2014 “Excerpts & Empty Gestures” Electric Lodge (High Voltage Series), Los Angeles
2014 “Gira Que Gira” Fowler Museum, Los Angeles
2014 “Carmela” Gloria Kaufman Dance Theater, Los Angeles
2014 “Depth of Surface” Gloria Kaufman Dance Theater, Los Angeles
2013 “Depth of Surface” REDCAT Theater (New Original Works Festival), Los Angeles
2013 “The Corrosive Function of Words” Gloria Kaufman Dance Theater, Los Angeles
2012 “In a Breath” Pieter Performance Space, Los Angeles
MOVMENT FOR CAMERA/ VIDEO
2014 “Excerpt no.2” Electric Lodge (High Voltage Series), Los Angeles
2014 “Excerpt #1: TED” Electric Lodge (High Voltage Series), Los Angeles
2013 “Empty Gestures”
2014 Lost SANDwitches, Jilian Stein, REDCAT, Performer, Los Angeles
2013 Stardust, David Rousseve, Performer, Gloria Kaufman Dance Theater, Los Angeles
2013 A Ritual for Twelve, Laurel Tentindo, Performer, Fowler Museum, Los Angeles
2013 STAKKT, JiIlian Stein, HOME L.A., Performer, Los Angeles
2013 Floor of the Forest, Trisha Brown, Performer, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
2012 Junkyard, Michel Kouakou, Performer Gloria Kaufman Dance Theater, Los Angeles
2011-12 Feet on the Ground, Viver Brasil Dance Company, Performer/company member, national touring
2011 Iya Mesan Orun, Vera Passos, Performer, Velocity Dance Center, Seattle
2010 Mulheres Sem Seios, Asa Rosa Malström, Performer, Sala de Couro do Teatro Castro Alvez, Salvador, Bahia-Brazil
2010 Sotaque Seu Toque, Teresa Fabião, Performer, Sala de Couro do Teatro Castro Alvez, Salvador, Bahia-Brazil
2008 Omi Odara Gift on the Water, Viver Brasil Dance Company, Company Member, Johnson Ford Ampitheater, Los Angeles
2008 Borders Governors Conference, Lula Washington Dance Theatre, Guest Performer, Gibson Amphitheater
2007 XIRÊ, Viver Brasil Dance Company, Performer / Company Member, Johnson Ford Amphitheatre, Los Angeles
MASTER CLASSES/ ACADEMIC APPOINTMENTS
2014 Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance, University of California Los Angeles, Teaching Associate, Afro-Brazilian Traditional and Popular Dance, Los Angeles
2014 Viver Brasil Dance Company, Teacher in Residency, Afro-Brazilian Traditional Dance/ Silvestre Technique, Dance Arts Academy, Los Angeles
2013 Tamara LaDonna Moving Spirits, Inc, Master class, Silvestre Technique, Chez Bushwick< New York
2013 Andanza Compañía Puertorriqueña de Danza Contemporánea, Master Classes, Attuned Movement (Contemporary Dance)/ Silvestre Technique/ Afro-Brazilian, San Juan, Puerto Rico 2012 ODC, Master Class, Silvestre Technique, San Francisco
2011 DANY Joyce Soho, Master Class, Silvestre Technique / Afro-Brazilian, New York
2011 Live Arts Los Angeles, Master Workshop, Afro Contemporary, Los Angeles
2011 Dance Arts Academy, Master Workshop, Afro-Contemporâneo, Los Angeles
2010 Velocity Dance Center, Master Class, Silvestre Technique & Afro-Brazilian, Seattle
2010 Silvestre Technique Intensive Training Program, Instructor (All Levels), Silvestre Technique, Escola de Dança da FUNCEB, Salvador, Brazil
2008-2010 Escola de Dança da FUNCEB, Instructor, Silvestre Technique, Salvador, Brazil
2007 Lula Washington Dance Theatre, Instructor, Afro Contemporary, Los Angeles
2006 Atiempo, Afro-Brazilian Traditional and Popular Dance, Master Class, San Juan, Puerto Rico
INTERNATIONAL DANCE / CULTURE RESEARC
2009-2010 Bale Folclorico da Bahia, Afro- Brazilian Dance, Salvador, Bahia
2005-2010 Escola de Dança da FUNCEB, Silvestre Technique, Afro-Brazilian Dance, Salvador, Brazil
2006 Fundação Pierre Verger, Afro-Brazilian Traditional Dance/ Song/Folklore, Salvador Bahia, Brazil
2004 Taller Tamboricua, Afro-Puerto Rican Dance, San Juan Puerto Rico
2011 Graduate Opportunity Fellowship, UCLA
Spanish and Portuguese