Dance, civil-military dictatorship and dance policies in ‘Quebradas do Mundaréu’ and ‘Kuarup ...’ by Ballet Stagium

Rafael Guarato About the author

RESUMO

Este artigo se dedica a demonstrar que a historiografia da dança no Brasil ao emoldurar e explicar as obras do Ballet Stagium a partir do contexto social e subsidiado por uma episteme dicotômica, culminou no abandono das políticas específicas da dança. O objetivo do texto é analisar táticas políticas específicas ao fazer artístico da dança, empregadas pela companhia durante a década de 1970. Para tanto, a investigação se dedica às obras Quebradas do mundaréu e Kuarup..., no intuito de restituir a elas seu potencial de atuação politizada no contexto no qual foram produzidas, sem estarem sucumbidas à política governamental. O estudo recorre a fontes históricas e orientado por teorias e debates existentes no campo dos estudos de dança, dos estudos culturais e da filosofia política.

Palavras-chave:
Dança; Política; Ditadura civil-militar; Ballet Stagium; Coreografia

RÉSUMÉ

Cet article est dédié à démontrer que l'historiographie de la danse au Brésil, encadrant et expliquant les œuvres de Ballet Stagium à partir du contexte social et subventionnées par une épistémé dichotomique, a abouti à l'abandon de politiques spécifiques de la danse. L'objectif du texte est d'analyser les tactiques politiques spécifiques de la danse artistique, employées par la compagnie dans les années 1970. Pour ce faire, la recherche est consacrée aux œuvres Quebradas do mundaréu et Kuarup..., afin de redonner leur potentiel à d’action politisée dans le contexte dans lequel elles ont été produites, sans céder à la politique gouvernementale. L'étude s'appuie sur des sources historiques et est guidée par des théories et des débats existant dans le domaine des études de danse, des études culturelles et de la philosophie politique.

Mots-clés:
Danse; Politique; Dictature civilo-militaire; Ballet Stagium; Chorégraphie

ABSTRACT

This article is dedicated to demonstrating that the historiography of dance in Brazil, framing and explaining the works of Ballet Stagium from the social context and subsidized by a dichotomous episteme, culminated in the abandonment of specific dance policies. The objective of the text is to analyze specific political tactics in artistic dance, employed by the company during the 1970s. Therefore, the investigation is dedicated to the works Quebradas do mundaréu and Kuarup ..., in order to restore to them their potential for politicized performance in the context in which they were produced, without being succumbed to the government policy, drawing on historical sources and guided by theories and debates existing in the field of dance studies, cultural studies and political philosophy.

Keywords:
Dance; Politics; Civil-military dictatorship; Ballet Stagium; Choreography

The year 2021 is a particularly special year for the Ballet Stagium dance company in the city of São Paulo, as it will complete 50 years of existence and uninterrupted artistic operation, being the longest-lived private dance company in our country. However, despite the continuation and permanent activity in dance for five decades, the company has its historical record – and, therefore, the memory regarding its importance for dance in Brazil – especially associated with its first decade of existence. Founded in 1971 by Marika Gidali and Décio Otero, the arguments recurrently used to describe the São Paulo company’s dance and importance for dance in the country are supported by its link to the historical-political context of that period, which saw the civil-military dictatorship (1964–1985)1 1 The historiography on that period, produced in the 21st century, has shown that the relations of citizens with the government in the period were multiple and differentiated, making it not viable to treat the military and society, censorship and artists in a Manichean and absolute manner, as emphasized by historians Carlos Fico (2002) and Daniel Aarão Reis Filho (2014). Accordingly, rather than using the term military dictatorship, the preferred choice has been to underscore the importance of civil society’s support and interaction in maintaining the military in power for more than two decades, thus employing term civil-military. .

By analyzing the specific bibliography, it is found that Ballet Stagium received little attention and space in books on the history of dance in our country until the early 1990s. The interesting aspect of this process is that the treatment of Ballet Stagium, as opposition to the ideological politics of the civil-military State, does not appear in the historiographical texts of Antônio José Faro (1986FARO, Antônio José. Pequena história da dança. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor, 1986. and 1988), Maribel Portinari (1985PORTINARI, Maribel. Nos passos da dança. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 1985. and 1989), Cássia Navas (1987), Eduardo Sucena (1989)SUCENA, Eduardo. A dança teatral no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: Fundação Nacional de Artes Cênicas, 1989., and Dias (1992)DIAS, Lineu; NAVAS, Cássia. Dança moderna. Secretaria Municipal de Cultura: São Paulo, 1992.. Ballet Stagium was only raised to the condition of a landmark representing profound changes in the scenic dance produced in our country in the book O Brasil descobre a dança, a dança descobre o Brasil, by Helena Katz (1994)KATZ, Helena. O Brasil descobre a dança, a dança descobre o Brasil. São Paulo: DBA Artes Gráficas, 1994.. In order to define the São Paulo company’s attributes that enable building these changes, the first argument used by Katz (1994, p. 14)KATZ, Helena. O Brasil descobre a dança, a dança descobre o Brasil. São Paulo: DBA Artes Gráficas, 1994. is the following:

The starting point, the basic idea of the work, centers on a typically Brazilian phenomenon known as Ballet Stagium. Stagium was born during the most authoritarian years of a military regime that persecuted and tortured students, workers, the Church and politicians in Brazil. It was the Medici administration, with AI-5, censorship and economic growth combined with a perverse distribution of income.

For the first time, a text with a historiographic aspect associated Stagium – not just some choreographies, but its very emergence – to the period, contextualizing the historical period of the military dictatorship and specifying that these were “[…] the most authoritarian years” (Katz , 1994, p. 14KATZ, Helena. O Brasil descobre a dança, a dança descobre o Brasil. São Paulo: DBA Artes Gráficas, 1994.), under the command of then president General Emílio Garrastazu Médici (1969–1974). The author underlines censorship and AI-5, important and famous repressive elements adopted by the government then in power. However, the direct association between Ballet Stagium and resistance to the military regime is found in another passage of the text, in which the author states that “[…] in a country silenced by censorship and fear, Stagium acted, in the 1970s and 1980s, as a voice for lucidity. It made dance a space for the consciousness that resisted” (Katz, 1994, p. 19KATZ, Helena. O Brasil descobre a dança, a dança descobre o Brasil. São Paulo: DBA Artes Gráficas, 1994.).

Therefore, it was through Helena Katz’s text that historiography established a Manichean relationship between Stagium productions during the 1970s and 1980s and the state structure under the command of the military. Thus, our first diagnosis consists in recognizing an epistemological parameter that operates by framing individuals and their actions within binary conceptions of politics, considering that dance historiography defines these relationships in terms of resistance x conformism. Furthermore, considering that academic research carried out after the publication of the book of Katz (1994)KATZ, Helena. O Brasil descobre a dança, a dança descobre o Brasil. São Paulo: DBA Artes Gráficas, 1994. that, in some way, addresses Ballet Stagium replicates this diagnosis on the company’s history2 2 See the works by Inês Bogéa (2004), Denise Siqueira (2006), Flávia Fontes Oliveira (2007), Karla Regina Dunder Silva (2008), Luanne Vila Nova (2010) and Elizabeth Pessôa Gomes da Silva (2013). , the binary treatment of the relationship between dance and politics remains influential and one of the persistent benchmarks on which the debate on dance and politics is based and, thus, updates its scope.3 3 This historical way of understanding political consciousness is a basic premise for comprehending political actions, as proposed by classical Marxism, according to which social groups or classes should have –– or acquire –– awareness as to their position in relation to the social totality.

In the book Ballet Stagium e a fabricação de um mito (2019), I sought to present the interactions between Ballet Stagium and different instances of the military government during the 1970s, as well as the company’s different aesthetic concerns and proposals between 1971 and 1979, associated with details as to the functioning of the censorship apparatus in relation to dance. They provide several ambiguities that inform us about the impossibility of establishing the company as a proposal for specific opposition to the government established in military parameters, but, rather, as a group with social consciousness and that promotes social protests through dance during and after the civil-military dictatorship.

That is, my intention is not to invalidate or disregard the circumstances and the importance within which bipolar thinking is perpetuated and strengthened, but rather propose a shift in the analytical perspective, so as to understand the different politics and to qualify the forms of resistance that dance provides for the debate on the nexuses between Ballet Stagium and politics. The initial hypothesis I propose is that treating Ballet Stagium’s dance as a specific resistance to the ideological politics of the civil-military dictatorship simplifies the different politicalities and dynamics of interactions involving the company, contributing little to the understanding of the historical past of dance in our country and diminishing the importance of Ballet Stagium for different political structures in which dance is involved.

For an analysis of these different dance politics, I selected the works Quebradas do mundaréu (1975) and Kuarup ou a questão do índio (1977), as they are the two works chosen by dance historiography as emblematic in this process of characterization of the company4 4 Dance critic Maribel Portinari (1989) chose the works Diadorim (1972/74), Quebradas do mundaréu (1975) and Kuarup, ou a questão do índio (1977) as the best creations by Décio Otero, initiating a selection in the works produced by Stagium. Another dance critic, Lineu Dias (1992, p. 98 and 100), highlighted Quebradas do mundaréu (1975) as a theatrical adaptation of Plínio Marcos’ play Navalha na carne (1967), whose condition as prohibited by the censorship at the time is mentioned. Although not objectively associating the Stagium’s work to political protest, Dias specifies the oppressive condition of censorship regarding a singular work; in addition, he qualifies the work Kuarup, ou a questão do índio (1977) as a milestone in the company’s oeuvre. . Thus, I will proceed in seeking to recognize the different nexuses between dance and politics, based on the political statements about dance and society made by Marika Gidali and Décio Otero in the period and through the analysis of dance contained in these works. In this path, I will employ existing theories and debates in the fields of dance studies, cultural studies, and political philosophy, coordinating them to help understand the multiple nexuses between dance and politics, seeking to answer the following questions: can the political-ideological context control dance and circumscribe its meanings or is dance, as politics, capable of generating contestation by itself? When looking into the Stagium of the 1970s, do we perceive political concerns that are different from those informed by the historiography of dance?

Dance making requires thinking and deciding about it

In the late 20th century, there was a growing body of theories seeking to show how everyday life and different spheres of life are constituted by politics. In this sense, given the flexibility and variety of understandings about the term politics, it seems cautious to explain not only which dance we are talking about when we talk about dance, but it is also essential to define what we mean by politics.

The basic definition of politics with which I agree is constituted by an association between the definition proposed by Turkish philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis (2000, p. 260) as the practice of “[…] questioning the established institutions” and that postulated by Belgian philosopher and political scientist Chantal Mouffe (2011, p. 16)MOUFFE, Chantal. En torno a lo politico. Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2011., who, in treating the political sphere as a space of power, conflict and antagonisms, situates politics “[…] as the set of practices and institutions through which a certain order is created, organizing human coexistence in the context of the conflictivity inherent in and derived from the political sphere.” Based on these premises, we can formulate the following understanding: politics presupposes a practical action with a decision-making aspect, which formulates things to compete antagonistically with other decision-making practices and, therefore, politics consists in organizing practices and making decisions amid conflicts.

If politics implies decisions that request from us a choice between conflicting alternatives, let us, in this first movement, recognize that the existence of the works Quebradas do Mundaréu and Kuarup ou a questão do índio were, above all, decisions. At some point and for specific reasons. We will seek to base our work on documents from that period, to try to recognize the first elements that structure this framework that interrelates dance and politics. What prompted Stagium to propose these works? At this level, we are not talking about the works themselves, but about the making of a work and the stages that precede its public exhibition, specifically at the level of artistic practice, which requires decisions about what encourages artists to do what they do.

In order to understand how Stagium became interested in proposing these works, I chose to work with specific sources from the time frame to which each work belongs. Thus, to address Quebradas do Mundaréu, I will use documents from 1975, and, for Kuarup ou a questão do índio, sources from 1977 that contain statements by the company’s directors. This selection is not aimed at establishing the re-signification of the work of art in the world, but rather as a methodological strategy that enables us to have a closer look into the artists in their own time. Thus, the option avoids later statements by the company’s directors, who started to add meanings acquired after public performances, therefore, after receiving information about their works formulated by specialized critics and dance historiography5 5 The research by historian Daniela de Sousa Reis (2005) is an example of how artists add meaning to their works after receiving comments from the specialized critics, as shown in the analysis of work 21 by Grupo Corpo. .

Quebradas do Mundaréu (1975)

The work Quebradas do Mundaréu was performed for the first time in November 1975 and is a dance adaptation of the play entitled Navalha na Carne (1967) by playwright Plínio Marcos and director Ademar Guerra. Therefore, it is a novel staging of a work whose dramaturgy had been devised for actors – and not for dancers. Then, overcoming the boundaries between dance and theater practices seems to have been the driving force that encouraged Décio Otero and Marika Gidali to decide to dance a theatrical play, considering that the company underwent a moment of pursuit of a specific way of dancing scenically through the ballet technique in its classical tradition.

It is the desire to maintain the technique of ballet in order to change it that director Marika Gidali announced to newspaper Correio Popular (Gidali, 1975bGIDALI, Marika. Depoimento. In: Stagium: A realidade brasileira através da dança. Correio Popular, Campinas, 03 jul. 1975b, p. 8.) of the city of Campinas, in July 1975, when she stated that “[…] a ballet formula is emerging that is totally ours” (Gidali, 1975). Soon after the premiere of Quebradas do Mundaréu, Marika told journalists Oswaldo Mendes and Manuela Costa Rios from newspaper Última Hora of São Paulo that “The ideal for us is to combine choreography and interpretation in the same dose” (Gidali apud Mendes; Rios, 1975MENDES, Oswaldo. Quebradas do Mundaréu. Última Hora. São Paulo, 11 nov. 1975, p. 9.). According to these statements, it is possible to deduce that there was an intention, on the part of the company, to look for tactics for practicing dance based on ballet, as well as the dosage of interpretation shows an interest in contaminating the practice of ballet dance with practices arising from the theatrical art.

Put in these terms, Stagium, in choosing to dance Navalha na Carne, takes the decision to problematize the heritage of ballet dance and its virtuous movements, challenging the dominant paradigm of movement in scenic dance of its period. There is, then, a Stagium politics that is not found in the content of the plays, nor in their making or exhibition to an audience. This politics is constituted with the freedom to choose to work with issues of dramatic expressiveness, stemming from theater, instead of replicating the disciplinary logic of ballet in its classical tradition, promoting, through choice, questioning.

A document that helps us understand the premise presented here is the letter written by theater director Ademar Guerra and addressed to the directors of Ballet Stagium, in 1975GUERRA, Ademar. Carta a Marika e Décio (1975). In: MENDES, Oswaldo. Ademar Guerra: o teatro de um homem só. São Paulo: Senac, 1997. P. 103-111.. The content of the letter deals with Guerra’s valedictory statement as to no longer working with Stagium and, at the same time, the theater director explains the reasons for his departure from the company when talking about the choreography Quebradas do mundaréu. In the following words, Guerra explains the reasons: “I, in two years, have only and solely tried to create a line of inner theatrical behavior within the group and you. That’s the purpose of my work that I didn’t tell you. Only that” (Guerra Apud Mendes, 1977, p. 103MENDES, Oswaldo. Os índios nos passos do Stagium. Última Hora. São Paulo, 26 jul. 1977.). The concern with staging the choreography6 6 In an interview contained in the documentary Teatro, Cultura e sociedade, directed by Carlos Meceni, Marika Gidali confirmed that the proposal to stage Navalha na Carne was made by Ademar Guerra. See: GIDALI, Marika; OTERO Décio. Teatro, cultura e sociedade. Dir. Carlos Meceni. São Paulo: Associação Paulista de Arte, Cultura e Educação, DVD, 2002. 43 min. was encouraged by Guerra’s interest in deepening the staging techniques. Guerra emphasizes that he sought to introduce, into the staging of the Stagium, a naturalness that resulted in an automation of the ability to interpret, without this showing effort or concentration on the part of the interpreter, since, in his opinion, the Stagium company already proposed to do so. “But, believe me, you didn’t” (Guerra Apud Mendes, 1977, p. 103MENDES, Oswaldo. Os índios nos passos do Stagium. Última Hora. São Paulo, 26 jul. 1977.).

Figure 1
Marika Gidali e Décio Otero em Quebradas do mundaréu (1976[1975]).

Kuarup ou a questão do índio

Premiering in July 1977, Kuarup, ou a questão do índio informed its audience, through its playbill, that it claimed a belonging to the anthropophagic modernist tradition of the way of making and thinking art below the tropics. It contained a quote from Oswald de Andrade’s Manifesto antropofágico: “I am only interested in what is not mine” (Andrade, 1928ANDRADE, Oswald. Manifesto Antropófago. Revista de Antropofagia, São Paulo, ano 1, n. 1, mai. 1928, p. 7. Disponível em <https://digital.bbm.usp.br/handle/bbm/7064>. Acesso em ago. 2021.
https://digital.bbm.usp.br/handle/bbm/70...
). With this act, Ballet Stagium announces that Kuarup… represents, among the company’s productions, a concern to do from the other, an effort to make dance assume specific scenic aspects with the contact, use and redistribution of knowledge found in our country.

On that occasion, dance critic Maribel Portinari (1977)PORTINARI, Maribel. A dança do aqui e agora nos Passos do Stagium. O Globo, Rio de Janeiro, 07 jul. de 1977. stated that, based on the choice of indigenous songs from the upper and lower Xingu as the soundtrack, as well as the choice of cadences and kinetics of movements that are closer to the Western imagination about indigenous dances and the complete absence of technical reference from ballet dance, Stagium had, then, as its main challenge, not to resort to the exoticism or stylization of native peoples. Thus, the critic stated, after a conversation with Décio Otero and Marika, that:

‘Kuarup’ is the result of a research work that, like others of the company, refuses amenities and easy solutions. The idea first emerged gradually from readings and then from conversations with anthropologists who provided the tape with indigenous music as well as a detailed explanation of rites in which dance is always of utmost importance (Portinari, 1977PORTINARI, Maribel. A dança do aqui e agora nos Passos do Stagium. O Globo, Rio de Janeiro, 07 jul. de 1977.).

Research: this seems to have been the leitmotiv that motivated the making of Kuarup… However, if in Quebradas do mundaréu there was a division of protagonism over the choice with Ademar Guerra, in Kuarup… When we delve into the documents of the period, it is Décio Otero who provides most of the arguments that allow us to recognize the research bias intended when carrying out the work that became the company’s main milestone, having recently been described as The Rite of Spring of scenic dance in Brazil (Navas; Cerbino, 2018NAVAS, Cássia; CERBINO, Beatriz. Permis d’interdire – Interdire d’interdire: danser ao Brésil durant le anées 68. In: LAUNAY, Isabelle; et. Al. (dir.). Danser em 68: perspectives internacionales. Montpellier: Deuxième Époque, 2018. P. 211-229.).

Décio Otero told journalist Oswaldo Mendes (1977)MENDES, Oswaldo. Os índios nos passos do Stagium. Última Hora. São Paulo, 26 jul. 1977. that the work was the result of aesthetic changes that the company had been carrying out over time, since its formation in 1971, defining Kuarup… as “[…] a consequence of everything that I’ve done before” (Otero Apud Mendes, 1977MENDES, Oswaldo. Os índios nos passos do Stagium. Última Hora. São Paulo, 26 jul. 1977.). In this same interview, the choreographer reinforces that it is “[…] a work of detachment to be continued, a first step” and that as an artistic group, “[…] it is necessary to recreate, to advance through new aesthetic proposals, trying to find a new vocabulary.” In an article in the newspaper Diário da Noite, of August 2, 1977, Décio stated that: “One of the first conditions imposed in the staging of ‘Kuarup’ was that they should divest themselves of their aesthetic values in order to reach a new result” (Otero, 1977OTERO, Décio. Depoimento. In: Kuarup: ou a questão do índio. Diário da Noite, São Paulo, 02 ago. 1977.). Taking Décio Otero’s statements as a cornerstone, we can infer that the concerns and motivations for the proposal of Kuarup… were fostered by artistic decisions, driven by the company’s aesthetic practice. Therefore, there was, in Kuarup…, as well as in Quebradas do Mundaréu, politics involved in the choice of works, whose direction was driven by the artistic concerns that permeated Ballet Stagium in those years.

Figure 2
Ballet Stagium in Kuarup ou a questão do índio (1977).
Figure 3
Ballet Stagium in Kuarup ou a questão do índio (s/d).

We then have a first sphere of politics about dance, constituted by artists who decided on their work. The choices present in both works were linked to an intelligent and tactical reading of their position in relation to other instances of dance as an art. By understanding the reasons that encourage the choices, we can see that their directors were aware of the aesthetic line they were crossing and intended, with that, to foster an aggression to the customs of what is a scenic work carried out by a ballet group in the 1970s in Brazil. To this end, the company sought tactics to forge what dance scholar Susan Leigth Foster (2003, p. 401)FOSTER, Susan Leigh. Choreographies of Protest. Theatre Journal, v. 55, n. 3, 2003, p. 395-412. defined as “[…] Protestant physicality”, in seeking a body that protests against the conventions of dance understood as art and its politics of public manifestation of the period.

If the political sphere involves counterpoint and politics is constituted by practices that require decision, it demands that we understand that dance is provoked by decisions that interfere in what is exposed to the world. Therefore, if we consider that dance making requires constant decisions in its practice, we conceive the possibility of finding different levels of decisions with politicized aspects in dance. Through its choices of which works to stage, Ballet Stagium announces, through Quebradas do mundaréu and Kuarup…, a form of protest and resistance to formal conventions, considering that these works present, since their choices, deliberations motivated by aspects of rebellion and nonconformity.

Ballet Stagium as agonistic dance: company politics and militancy

If, on the one hand, it is possible to recognize political actions specific to dance since the choice of works, on the other hand, between these same works and the people who made them, there are other politics. Thus, we are led to consider how Ballet Stagium reached these decisions, relying on the contribution of its concerns and interests shaped in its relations with and in society. At this point, we will analyze the people who conceived and performed the dance, in an understanding that dance is not carried out externally and without subjects, so we can see that the company’s tactics in proposing the works Quebradas do Mundaréu and Kuarup… are not neutral in themselves and not transparent, but linked to important interests in the company’s history and, therefore, morally active.

To delve into the different positions of a rebellious nature found in the operation of Ballet Stagium in the 1970s, a third conception of politics will help us. It is the idea that politics is something in motion, developed by dancer and sociologist Randy Martin (1998, p. 2)MARTIN, Randy. Critical Moves: Dance Studies in Theory and Politics. Durham & London: Duke University Press, 1998., who defines politics:

…as the contest over what difference the difference can make (in the double sense of that which diverges from what is dominant in the present, and the expansive multiplicity of human expression that demands adjudication and decision). In this regard, politics is activity already in motion. It does not await ignition7 7 “[…] as the contest over what difference difference can make (in the double sense of that which diverges from what is dominant in the present, and the expansive multiplicity of human expression that demands adjudication and decision). In this regard, politics is activity already in motion. It does not await ignition”. .

By proposing politics as movement, Martin intends to insinuate that politics is inherent to human life and dance, and not something that responds to macro demands or social situations. From this perspective, it is up to us to understand what are the principles or negotiations in motion in the company’s artistic practice. Hence, our first effort is to understand: What encouraged Stagium to protest and what kept it in motion?

The main motivation stated by Décio Otero and Marika Gidali, when they formed Ballet Stagium in 1971, is concern with survival8 8 This subject is found in almost every interview of the period in printed periodicals, as can be seen, for example, in: BULIK, Linda. O Stagium vem aí. Folha 2. Londrina, 30 nov. 1971; FUSER, Fausto. Ballet Stagium: um ano de vida com luta. Folha de São Paulo. São Paulo, 29 out. 1972. p. 64. (Caderno de Domingo); O Balé Stagium mostra hoje obra de Marika Gidali e Décio Otero. Correio do Povo. Porto Alegre, 6 out. 1973; PENNA, Catarina Vitória. Ballet Stagium: o acerto dos passos. Jornal do Brasil. Rio de Janeiro, 26 set. 1974. p. 4 (Caderno B); FERREIRA, Edmar. Em busca de uma nova realidade. Dançando. Jornal da Tarde. São Paulo, 27 set. 1975. p. 17; FERREIRA, Edmar. À procura de um novo corpo. Dançando. O Estado de São Paulo. São Paulo, 23 fev. 1976; GIDALI, Marika. Cervantino: “Stagium”: grupo brasileño que vive por ‘amor el arte’. El Sol de León, León-Guanajuato, 04 mai. 1977a. . Survival was understood as the militancy in producing forms that could guarantee the permanence of the company’s artistic activities over time. And aiming to achieve this primary purpose, Décio Otero and Marika Gidali adopted the tactic of popularizing ballet, making this decision a continuous and uninterrupted aspect of politicized work, in which the concerns of artists were centered on the social struggle for the recognition of dance as field of professional work. This basic principle functioned as a guide for the other political disputes engaged in by Ballet Stagium, leading the company to adopt political postures for the construction of alternative presentation and circulation channels, working on a structural level in dealing with organizational issues of artistic work.

To a certain extent, the establishment of this structuring politics for the company, aiming at survival, provided it with possibilities and also limitations for its artistic practices and productions. The tactic adopted by Ballet Stagium, described as popularization, was the diversification of audiences through circulation in different cities. From the perspective of Marika Gidali (Apud Bulik, 1971BULIK, Linda. O Stagium vem aí. Folha 2. Londrina, 30 nov. 1971.), there was a need to travel, considering that “[…] some members of the group only earn money when we can travel, when there is a show, so we cannot stop or we won’t make ends meet. The thing is not to stop, with or without support”. Theater critic Sábato Magaldi (1972)MAGALDI, Sábato. Problemas e planos do Ballet Stagium. Jornal da Tarde. São Paulo, 17 jul. 1972, p. 50. emphasized that: “[…] Stagium sees in constant excursions a path to survival.”

During this process, the company’s directors gradually presented decisions that were guided by the popularization of ballet. Presenting interests in a democratic perspective of dance as an art, Ballet Stagium has become a broad platform to combat the elitization of scenic dance in the country. In 1974, Marika Gidali reinforces the choices made by the company and the directions of its operating policies. In an interview with the newspaper O Globo, the company’s director stated that: “Our objective is to perform ballet within the Brazilian artistic reality, without any pretension to stardom and seeking to reach an increasingly wider audience” (Gidali, 1974, p. 25GIDALI, Marika. Depoimento. In: Ballet Stagium no Rio estreia "A Rainha Louca". O Globo. Rio de Janeiro, 28 set. 1974, p. 25.). By looking into the survival tactics adopted by Ballet Stagium, we can see other politics involved in the choices of the works Quebradas do Mundaréu and Kuarup… to compose the company’s repertoire, both occupying a place within a policy that was described as demystification of ballet9 9 Among the tactics for demystification, a criticism of foreign elements in dance is commonly found. Ballet Stagium also adopted an open political posture on how, in Brazil, foreign artists are valued more than those who trained and work in our country. It was in this sense that the work Dança das cabeças of 1978 was explained by Marika Gidali in an interview to the newspaper Última Hora, as valuing our things: […] “It is an alert in dance form as to foreign cultural penetration. A cry in defense of what is ours.” See: Qual é a sua… Marika Gidali? Última Hora. São Paulo, 19 jul. 1978. p. 13. , which consisted in depriving this dance tradition of its elitist aspects and in reaching audiences found in localities outside the Rio-São Paulo axis.

In this rebellious posture in relation to the tradition of dance as art in Brazil (aesthetic and socioeconomic), Stagium constituted a popularization politics that was materialized choreographically throughout the 1970s. Thus, in the company’s choreographies, in addition to stylistic concerns, there was also previously an expectation of an audience that has not yet happened and is diverse. The corollary of these guidelines is observed in the aesthetic diversity of the works choreographed by Décio Otero in the period, hindering a fixed and unalterable definition of the company’s artistic work until that moment.

As an example, the program that premiered Quebradas do Mundaréu in 1975 also included, in addition to Diadorim – based on Guimarães Rosa –, neoclassical choreographies with abstract themes such as Dessincronias (1971) and Prelúdios (1975). On that occasion, dance critic Maribel Portinari (1975)PORTINARI, Maribel. Quebradas e Diadorim marcam estreia do Stagium na sala. O Globo, Rio de Janeiro, 07 nov. 1975. defined Décio as “[…] one of the most versatile Brazilian choreographers,” and journalist Oswaldo Mendes (1975)MENDES, Oswaldo. Quebradas do Mundaréu. Última Hora. São Paulo, 11 nov. 1975, p. 9. defined Stagium as a group open to possibilities for being “[ …] totally unprejudiced,” noting that “[…] in these four years, each ballet premiered was a different direction, a new path.” Similarly, in the program that premiered the work Kuarup… in 1977, Stagium also presented the neoclassical choreography Prelúdios (1975). Dance critic Acácio Vallim (1977, p. 8)VALLIM, Acácio. Duas concepções de dança do Stagium. O Estado de São Paulo. São Paulo, 06 de jul. 1977, p.8. noted that the works “[…] indicate two different possibilities in relation to dance,” with “[…] differences in conception between the two choreographies.”

Based on the above, it can be agreed that, although the works Quebradas do mundaréu and Kuarup… occupy a privileged place in the historical memory about the resistance work of Ballet Stagium during the civil-military dictatorship, they are far from being able to deal with the complexity of the politics that involved the company and its directors in the period in their daily routines, and they do not represent a choreographing formula that can enable us an aesthetic orientation capable of framing the processes of selection of themes or techniques for staging its scenic works. And my understanding of this tangle is that the company’s directors had, as orientation for its operation, a dance politics, in the sense of work and actions through dance, capable of instrumentalizing a growing demand for artistic works of dance and making it function to the point of socially justifying the profession of people who work with dance.

To this end, Stagium acted and held a critical posture at different levels and aimed at different places of power. Thus, the company claimed its participation in different spheres of decision, reminding us that the objective of politics “[…] is not happiness, but freedom” (Castoriadis, 2002, p. 262CASTORIADIS, Cornelius. As encruzilhadas do labirinto: a ascensão da insignificância. Vol. IV. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 2002.). This desired freedom consists in acquiring conditions to interfere in decisions that, to some extent, regulate my participation in society. The decisions of Stagium were guided by the principle of surviving in the face of an almost non-existent reality of professionalization. And, considering this, the company sought to resolve this antagonism, seeking tactics that consisted in developing agonisms. To this end, they acted politically by stimulating popularization through the demystification of ballet and the diversification of products. However, every decision produces effects. Thus, Marika Gidali and Décio Otero had to deal with several effects, each of them bringing new challenges and requiring other decisions, leading Stagium to act shrewdly with the internal and external antagonisms resulting from its own artistic deliberations.

In a first sphere, with the effect of the ballet popularization politics that required diversification of the ways of dancing, Marika Gidali herself had to make sacrifices about her predilections as an artist. The newspaper A Tribuna (Gidali, 1975aGIDALI, Marika. Depoimento. In: Marika, o Ballet Stagium e os problemas da dança no Brasil. A Tribuna, Vitória, 23 out. 1975a.) from the city of Vitória-ES highlighted, in 1975, that Marika “[…] could be dancing classical ballet, being oriented toward modern ballet more due to circumstances than because of choice.” In the same article, Marika herself said that: “The lack of resources leads the Brazilian dancer to a line of research that does not exist abroad. If tomorrow I can dance a major staging of ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ why not do it?”. As an artist, despite the historical discourse that led to the practice of Ballet Stagium being based on the demystification of ballet, Marika did not see the possibility of being part of repertoire ballet stagings as excluding. This information enables us to observe that Marika’s political conception was not constructed in an or/or Manichean way, but, rather, according to an understanding that professional work in dance is important and that aesthetic decisions or choreographic choices assume a second importance in decisions of the company.

In a second sphere, the effect of the ballet popularization politics, which required the diversification of the ways of dancing, made Ballet Stagium itself make sacrifices on the predilections of the artistic field. If, on the one hand, diversification enabled Stagium to dance for different audiences, on the other hand it created an impasse with the specialized critics, which would now treat their works as lacking in creativity. Theatrologist Mauro José Costa explained this issue as early as 1976COSTA, Mauro José. A busca do Stagium. Opinião, Rio de Janeiro, 17 set. 1976, p. 23., in the following terms:

Stagium is still timid in its proposals for renewal and works on a variety of trends, from neoclassical to modern, to research on freer movements, without defining a clear line of work, a well-defined style. According to Décio Otero, the group’s director and main choreographer, this was the proper way they found to function in their professional scheme, of several presentations, for varied audiences, often without any knowledge of ballet (Costa, 1976, p. 23COSTA, Mauro José. A busca do Stagium. Opinião, Rio de Janeiro, 17 set. 1976, p. 23.).

And Stagium was aware of this antagonism between an immediate material reality that requires diversity and the demands of dance experts. When participating in the Festival Internacional Cervantino, in Mexico, in 1977, Marika declared to the newspaper Excelsior (Gidali, 1977bGIDALI, Marika. Depoimento. In: Filosofía del Ballet Stagium: cultivar una ideia de mil formas. Excelsior, Guanajuato, 08 may. 1977b, p. B-7.) that Stagium “[…] has to reach the great majorities and that’s why we never care about having a stylistic consistency. However, this concept is not accepted by the public with knowledge of dance.” When looking into the criticism directed at Ballet Stagium, especially after 1978, it is common to find verdicts that describe the company’s works as “[…] easy appeal” (Dias, 1978, p. 13DIAS, Lineu. O apelo fácil na nova proposta do Stagium. O Estado de São Paulo. São Paulo, 26 jul 1978. p. 13.) or “[…] too obvious” (Braga, 1978, p. 1BRAGA, Suzana. A dança regional e sem modismos do Ballet Stagium. Jornal do Brasil. Rio de Janeiro, 04 ago. 1978, p. 1 (Serviço)). In popularizing dance, Ballet Stagium had to deal with the antagonism of the diversified public and the specialized public. And what I propose is to recognize the company’s choreographic productions, among which Quebradas do mundaréu and Kuarup…, as a continuous effort to pursue agonisms between these different demands for different dances. By solving a problem –– having a public to survive –– the Stagium’s very political action constituted new antagonisms, requiring that the company adopted a course of action and decision of a constant politicized character, in which dance is mediation (Williams, 1979WILLIAMS, Raymond. Do reflexo à mediação. In: Marxismo e literatura, Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 1979. P. 98-103.), that is, it required a very complex dynamics of decisions and deliberations in the present, which would impact the future of the company.

Even dealing with identities about dance that demanded specificities, Stagium does not annihilate the antagonistic dimension of this relation, showing that it recognizes itself according to these same antagonisms. Philosopher Chantal Mouffe notes that, despite political identities being defined in terms of us/them, the antagonistic dimension of this relation does not dissolve. Therefore, I postulate that Stagium recognized this dynamics, as they understood that their adversaries are not their inert opposites, but dynamics with which they should interact in order to modify the present. This gives the company’s artistic activities a peculiar aspect of politics, which helps us to understand the interactions of Marika and Ballet Stagium with matters related to politics in its governmental sphere.

This non-Manichean attitude of the company, in relation to matters related to government politics of a partisan or ideological nature, is also found in the work of Ballet Stagium during the 1970s, in relation to the civil-military government. This argument is supported by the fact that the company performed to General Ernesto Geisel while he was president of the republic (1974–1979), on which occasion Marika Gidali spoke as follows:

I felt very fulfilled. What I say is never aggressive. It’s a path, a feeling. It’s not a complaint. It’s a depiction of what happens. And it’s good for the president. It’s important to see what the people want. For those who watched us and for those who watch us, it’s good for them so they can change the course of things. I think I was useful at that time (Gidali Apud Jornal da Manhã, 1980, p. 5GIDALI, Marika. Depoimento. In: Contra o esquema estrangeiro. Jornal da Manhã. Uberaba, 09 abr. 1980, p. 5.).

What I intend to postulate here is that the dance popularization politics adopted by Ballet Stagium not only governed its agonistic interaction with the artistic field, but also its relations with the sphere of governmental political power.10 10 Here, the different contracts and formal dialogues established by Ballet Sta-gium with the government at the time of the civil-military dictatorship in its different bodies also serve as supporting evidence. See: Guarato (2019). This perspective is supported by the constancy of financial support from different public bodies during the 1970s directed to the company, from the bus provided for Ballet Stagium’s first tour of the Northeast of Brazil, in 197211 11 See: Comissão Estadual de Dança. Comissão de Dança refuta acusações. Folha de São Paulo. São Paulo, 8 dez. 1972. Ilustrada, p. 31; MAGALDI, Sábato. Problemas e planos do Ballet Stagium. Jornal da Tarde. São Paulo, 17 jul. 1972, p. 50. , to the numerous contracts for public presentations entered by the local12 12 Ballet Stagium obtained several contracts with the Municipal administration of São Paulo, among which we highlight case no. 113,406/75, which contracted the company to perform three presentations for the amount of Cr$ 60,000.00. See. Cultura. Diário Oficial do Município de São Paulo, 11 dez. 1975, p. 10. Other contracts can be found in the secretary’s orders: Cultura. Diário Oficial do Município de São Paulo, 14 ago. 1976, p. 15 e 17 jul. 1976, p. 12; Cultura. Diário Oficial do Município de São Paulo, 05 jul. 1978, p. 12 , state13 13 Some contracts and their values can also be found in the records of the Official Gazette of the State of São Paulo. See. DOSP, 20 fev. 1975, p. 54; DOSP, 21 jan. 1975, p. 57; DOSP, 30 jan. 1975, p. 47; Extrato de Contratos da Secretaria de Cultura, Ciência e Tecnologia. DOSP, 06 ago. 1976, p. 57; Extrato de Contratos da Secretaria de Cultura, Ciência e Tecnologia. DOSP, 08 nov. 1977, p. 48; Extrato de Contratos da Secretaria de Cultura, Ciência e Tecnologia. DOSP, 12 nov. 1977, p. 76. and federal14 14 Examples of these actions are company presentations financed by the MEC and projects in which it participated, such as Barca da Cultura. See. HELENA, Regina. Stagium abriu caminhos para dança. A Gazeta. São Paulo, 4 set. 1974. (Variedades); MAGNO, Paschoal Carlos. A barca do poeta. Veja. São Paulo, ano 06, n. 286, 27 fev. 1974, p. 74; RIBEIRO, Monike Garcia. Um estudo de caso de política cultural na história do Brasil contemporâneo: Paschoal Carlos Magno (1962-1964). O Olho da História, Salvador (BA), n. 15, dez. 2010. public authorities. In addition, it should be noted the establishment of formal dialogues by Ballet Stagium with the public power at the time of the civil-military dictatorship in its different bodies, but mainly with the Department of Sport, Culture and Tourism of the state of São Paulo, through which it informed what it required and requested financial support15 15 Such information can be found in the Proceedings of the Dance Committee of the São Paulo Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism. Due to the extent of their recurrence, we mention just a few: ATA da 18ª Reunião Ordinária da Comissão Estadual de Dança, 27 jan. 1972. Secretaria de Cultura, Esporte e Turismo do Estado de São Paulo. Arquivo Suspenso. Livros de Atas do Conselho Estadual de Cultura. Pasta 1971-1973, p. 15; Atas 19º, 21º, 28º e 32º, referentes às reuniões ordinárias da Comissão Estadual de Dança em 1972. Secretaria de Cultura, Esporte e Turismo do Estado de São Paulo. Arquivo Suspenso. Livros de Atas do Conselho Estadual de Cultura. Pasta 1971-1973, p. 15.b, 17.b, 22.b-23.b. e 25.b-26, respectivamente; ATA da 14ª Reunião Ordinária da Subcomissão de Dança, 02 maio 1974. Câmara de Artes do Conselho Estadual de Cultura da Secretaria de Cultura, Esporte e Turismo do Estado de São Paulo. São Paulo: Secretaria de Estado de Cultura, Arquivo Suspenso. Livros de Atas da Subcomissão de Dança do Conselho Estadual de Cultura. Pasta 1974-1975, p. 9-9.b; ATA da 40ª Reunião Ordinária da Subcomissão de Dança, 31 out. 1974. CACEC, SECTUR-SP. SC, AS. LASD/CEC. P. 1974-1975, p. 24-24.b; ATA da 72ª Reunião Ordinária da Subcomissão de Dança, 11 jun. 1975. CACEC, SECTUR-SP. SC, AS. LASD/CEC. P. 1974-1975, p. 39.b-40; ATA da 2ª Reunião Ordinária da Comissão Estadual de Dança, 12 jul. 1976. SECTUR-SP. DACH. AS. LACEC. P. 1976-1979, p. 1.b-2; ATA da 3ª Reunião Ordinária da Comissão Estadual de Dança, 19 jul. 1976. SECTUR-SP. DACH. AS. LACEC. P. 1976-1979, p. 2.b-3; ATA da 6ª Reunião Ordinária da Comissão Estadual de Dança, 09 ago. 1976. SECTUR-SP. DACH. AS. LACEC. P. 1976-1979, p. 4.b-5; ATA da 15ª Reunião Ordinária da Comissão Estadual de Dança, 18 out. 1976. SECTUR-SP. DACH. AS. LACEC. P. 1976-1979, p. 11-11.b; ATA da 56ª Reunião Ordinária da Comissão Estadual de Dança, 12 set. 1977. SECTUR-SP. DACH. AS. LACEC. P. 1976-1979, p. 45; ATA da 57ª Reunião Ordinária da Comissão Estadual de Dança, 26 set. 1977. SECTUR-SP. DACH. AS. LACEC. P. 1976-1979, p. 45.b-47; ATA da 68ª Reunião Ordinária da Comissão Estadual de Dança, 31 janeiro 78. SECTUR-SP. DACH. AS. LACEC. P. 1976-1979. .

Perceiving the company from this perspective teaches us that artistic maintenance, over time, requires an ability to understand the political sphere beyond friend x enemy relationships. From this perspective, the dictatorial governments and the current one were not and are not enemies to the politics that govern the artistic practice of Stagium, but are part of a vast list of opponents through which the company protests in favor of democracy. Stagium does not have enemies, but adversaries, in the sense that every government is an adversary, criticism is adversary, the dance market is an adversary, public policies for dance are adversaries, governed and mediated by an agonistic conduct of democracy.

Chantal Mouffe notes that adversaries should not be considered unalterable, as the adversarial model allows the dynamics of turning antagonism into agonism, from the perspective that the adversary “[…] is susceptible to being redefined” (Mouffe, 2011, p, 39MOUFFE, Chantal. En torno a lo politico. Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2011.). And meseems honest, historically, to recognize an almost utopian dimension in the extent to which Marika assume a posture in the face of the general. What the artist tells us is that interactions between dance and government politics are not insurmountable oppositions and that the connections between these instances are not exclusively founded on the friend x enemy model. In its wanderings and doings, Stagium makes the enemy be perceived as an adversary, which can be convinced through the militant activity of a democratic dance, with aspects of protest and different forms of rebellion.

Unannounced dance politics or rebellion as ethos of resistance

Thus far, I have endeavored to show political aspects and decisions involved in the material orientations of Ballet Stagium that constitute the making of the works Quebradas do Mundaréu and Kuarup…. However, this information only elucidates part of the complexity involved in these works. At this point in the text, I will focus on examining the specific politics that dance develops in its constitution and presentation, in order to recognize militant aspects from the choreographies, as a way of expressing protest in dance. To this end, we need to be able to recognize the specific politics that are developed through dance making, instead of treating it exclusively as a means of content transmission or as a text capable of talking about a context external to it.

In dance studies, sociologist Randy Martin (1985MARTIN, Randy. Dance as a social movement. Social Text, 12, 1985, p. 54-70. and 1998) provides us with this methodological tool for analysis, when he proposes dance as a social experience and its concept of mobilization16 16 In Brazil, the theoretical equivalent of Randy Martin’s proposal that spread through the publishing market is the work Le partage du sensible by French philosopher Jacques Rancière (2000). And for recognizing that within dance studies Martin had proposed the study of dance making and its public sharing outside the auspices of the symbolic sphere, coordinating the concepts of mobilization, desire and agency as specific politics of artistic making –– more than a decade in advance of Rancière ––, I employ Martin’s works as theoretical assumptions. However, this same sense of dance politics that I present is consistent with the conclusions that Marina Guzzo and Mary Spink (2015) and Lucía Naser (2017) reach through Rancière. . Assuming that politics is movement, Martin proposes that we think of dance as practice that does not exist in immobility. Thus, it only exists through interactions between people that constitute the performance itself as the inaugural act of dance as an art. And this interaction produces forms of organization that create and generate difference in that which we perceive as dance. Thus, the theory of mobilization is not focused on people, but on resources and on how these actions are organized and animated, shifting the model from a rational and universal actor existing in the premises of artistic intention or in reception, considering that “Dance occurs through forces applied to the body that yields to them, only to generate powers of their own”17 17 “Dance occurs through forces applied to the body that yields to them, only to generate powers of their own”. (Martin, 1998, p. 1MARTIN, Randy. Critical Moves: Dance Studies in Theory and Politics. Durham & London: Duke University Press, 1998.).

Instead of resistance, the concept of mobilization understands that dance constitutes its own politics that are disseminated through sensory experience. Therefore, mobilization is not subject to the effectiveness or the particular interests of specific social groups, as it is not an activity that comes from outside, but, rather, from how the moving body performs through the very movement, in a process that makes and occupies, which is a constitutor and a constituent at the same time. Roughly speaking, what Martin formulates is the notion that dance operates through the knowledge of its own history, with its technical and choreographic principles that do not carry meanings per se, requiring us to look into how they were made, what was presented, and into specific works.

Dance theorist Ana Vujanović (2013, p. 181) defines politicality as the “[…] aspect of an artwork or art practice that addresses the ways it acts and intervenes in the public sphere”18 18 “…aspect of an artwork or art practice that addresses the ways it acts and intervenes in the public sphere”. . And in an effort not to omit the aesthetic vitality of dance, we will seek to demonstrate what dance does for politics through its own configurations, understanding that, between its making and its exposure in the public sphere, the work operates a mobilization that occupies space and promotes a politicization that can trigger other instances of militancy.

In the 17-minute duration of the Quebradas do mundaréu choreography, despite the already highlighted aspects of its theatricality mixed with the maintenance of movements performed with the support of classical ballet technique (Silva, 2013SILVA, Elizabeth Pessôa Gomes da. Décio Otero: danças, andanças e mudanças nos prelúdios do Ballet Stagium. Belém: Paka-Tatu, 2013.); the obviousness of the matter involving marginalized characters such as a pimp, a prostitute and a homoaffective man (Katz, 1994KATZ, Helena. O Brasil descobre a dança, a dança descobre o Brasil. São Paulo: DBA Artes Gráficas, 1994.); and the effort of Ballet Stagium to be faithful to the theatrical text of Navalha na Carne (Otero, 1999); dance has limitations in its capability to communicate due to its non-verbal nature. So, what do those moving bodies mobilize and with what kinetic quality were they able to trigger senses when exposed? How is the strength of the dancing body forged so it can alter the public space when it occupies it?

In the work of producing the choreography presented, there is a unity composed of a lexicon that moves the three bodies, whose orientation is conducted by gestural negotiations for the maintenance of life amid situations of humiliation, aggression, submission and reconciliation with the oppressor. This lexicon consists of the constant maintenance of flexed arms and legs and tensed muscles, teeth bared, frowning foreheads and the transitions that require, from the body, a specific movement kinetics of agility and an effort to interact with the body that I will mistreat or that will mistreat me. The proximity to the ground in this corporeal construction made this the place where I anchor myself in situations of helplessness, just as the oppressor always stands upright, omnipresent and ready to attack. The scenic interaction between these bodies is mobilized by an almost animalistic symbiosis, of animal-people that coexist and live disenfranchised of so-called human rights and, therefore, without legislation covering their acts and consequences of these same acts.

Within this great lexicon, specific movements qualify the choreography. A non-fragile female body, conducted by a prostitute dressed as a worker who struggles with her disparate gestures and directed at oppressive situations, which sometimes demands agile and less organized solutions from the body, sometimes demands calmness and a careful calculation about what the body can do in that situation. This same survival skill is required of the homoaffective body that seduces, mistreats and does not fail to enjoy its masculine position of power in gender relations. With gestures that combine subtlety, wit and strength, an astute body appears that plays with social dynamics and possess the ability to provide movement to the very scene. And the presence of a body that moves to control, strong, merciless, with an animalistic sexual desire to possess, that only dances to oppress and subjugate, associates and interacts with other bodies as a tormentor who rejoices in the manipulation and dominion over other bodies.

Figure 4
Marika Gidali, Décio Otero and Milton Carneiro in Quebradas do mundaréu (1976[1975]).

If in Quebradas… we find different passages where steps and exercises from ballet classes are found, in Kuarup… they disappear completely. To debate the issue of the decimation of peoples, the choreography elected indigenous communities as historical representatives of this process. And this choice interfered in a non-negligible way in the mobilizations that the body triggered in the form of dance. In the process of making the other’s body understandable, different composition tactics were produced. Including dressing indigenous people as workers, stamping feet on stage without shoes, or the cadence provided by the soundtrack to moments of bent torso. Finally, there are several allusions (Launay, 2018LAUNAY, Isabelle. Poétiques et politiques des répertoires. Pantin: Centre Nacional de la Danse, 2018.) that Stagium makes, in a generic way, to dances originating from indigenous matrices.

However, the mobilization that guarantees specificity to Kuarup19 19 Version celebrating the 40-year anniversary of Ballet Stagium, produced by TV SESC, available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GLwk-FLYYoA>. Accessed on: April 22, 2021. is found in its lexical organization, considering that there are no particular characters in the choreography: what we find are masses of bodies. This horizontalizing characteristic was primarily guaranteed by the non-use of the classical ballet technique as an instrument for creation. The result is a kinetics of realignment of bodies, as they perform and are linked to a notion of democratic dance, capable of including more people, contributing to make the dominant and excluding forces that made ballet something for the privileged lose shine. For this reason, Kuarup… presents an aspect of freedom in relation to Quebradas…, in the sense that the bodily means by which people perform the movements are seen as freed from the specific dynamics inherent in the movements arising from technical work in dance.

And what supports and makes this mobilization vibrant are not the movements themselves, but, above all, the wisdom contained in the organization and dispersion of groups, of the masses, of the collectivity. Both in the moments they unite and separate, for reasons and wishes of the group, such as hunting, celebrating or eating, and in the moments they gather to defend themselves, fight and die together. In Kuarup…, the collective movement of bodies opens up to a complex web of relationships that belong properly to dance and shows us how Stagium knew how to explore space, forms, bodies, restrictions, rules and protocols of dance to expose them publicly. Accordingly, dance historian Mark Franko (2006, p. 5)FRANKO, Mark. Dance and the Political: States of Exception. Dance Research Journal, v. 38, n. 1.2, 2006, p. 3-18. states that “Politics are not located directly ‘in’ dance, but in the way dance manages to occupy (cultural) space”20 20 “Politics are not located directly ‘in’ dance, but in the way dance manages to occupy (cultural) space”. . The mobilization that made the choreography organize itself into constitution and dispersion of bodies provides a sensibility of the collective force and its fragility when facing other collective forces pushed by the machine of progress.

There is, therefore, a politicality in these works of Ballet Stagium that allows us to treat them as endowed with politics, even when they do not declare a specific political content. Through its choreographies, the company promoted multiple rebellions in its time and space, constantly questioning the usual order of dance making and reception. It shows that the body itself is capable of performing subversive and protesting acts against hegemonic conceptions, while providing an alternative with critical characteristics. Here, it matters for dance to recognize “[…] how” it was said instead of looking for “[…] what” is said (Vujanović, 2013, p. 188). The groupings and dismantling of grouping of bodies “[…] It is not a signifier to any signified. Rather, the movement communicates through its kinetic effects” (Martin, 1985, p. 55MARTIN, Randy. Dance as a social movement. Social Text, 12, 1985, p. 54-70.)21 21 “It is not a signifier to any signified. Rather, the movement communicates through its kinetic effects”. , triggering an understanding by the unsaid that mobilizes, being able to conduct a specific communication that insinuates between dancers and between dancers and audience, from body to body, the existence of dynamics of oppression between bodies that is not ended when the show ends.

Finally, when we understand the issues that motivated Stagium to carry out these works, the agonistic politics employed for material survival and the politicalities engendered by the mobilizations inherent to dance itself, I want to propound that these different rebellions and protests came to constitute an ethos of resistance about the existence of the company and its activities. And by noting that dance productions mobilize dancers and an audience to dance and watch, this product being a materialization of an identity of protest that was also developed in their production, Quebradas… and Kuarup… introduce anti-normative dynamics that threatened the aesthetic standard of dance, in the ways of organizing the body and its movement kinetics.

The mobilization that made Stagium act extends to its audience, as it is in movement. By using everyday gestures with their own syntax, supported by the experiences of excluded minorities, the company mobilizes, in its audience, the hope that their bodies can act, producing a community of bodies for action and a dance beyond the stage. To that end, we have to treat the artist not as an individual, but as a social body with which the public dialogues. Thus, Stagium’s dance is protest, it is rebellious and produces an ethos of resistance not only because it refers exclusively to a macro ideological political context, but also because of its different political nexuses with the material condition of being an artist and with the politicalities of its dance contained in the works.

While the text is finished, the subject is not ended

Rethinking how our stories were and are told to us proves a constant task. A significant part of dance historiography on Ballet Stagium bequeathed us a way of thinking that abruptly and deterministically evaluates the politics and resistance, paradoxically, with this way of proceeding, it situates its theories outside the very practice of which it presumes to be a part. The company is reported to us as frozen by the omnipresence of the social over the artistic and the particular spheres, acting in a deterministic way and making dance a mere reflection of the social world from which it came. In previous research, I endeavored to show that the company’s fixed historical significance as resistance to the civil-military dictatorship induces a bipolar reading of the relations between dance and government –– which seem unsustainable, given the company’s agonistic posture as to relations with the state apparatus ––, and I diagnosed this Manichean reading as a result of the process of reception of the works by dance critics, which was later replicated uncritically in the historiography of dance produced in Brazil after 1990 (Guarato, 2019GUARATO, Rafael. Ballet Stagium e a fabricação de um mito: imbricações entre dança, história, memória e critica de dança. Curitiba: CRV, 2019.).

However, if on the one hand this explanation helps us to understand the methodologies used in the historiography of dance in our country, as well as its motivations, it does not elucidate the dance politics promoted by the directors and choreographies of Ballet Stagium, considering that it kept providing explanations coming from outside dance and its reception processes. The effort of this text consists in showing that dance politics are not exclusively addressed to government politics structured in the conformism x resistance binomial. Therefore, saying that dance is not political or that dance is political does not help us much, requiring an effort that consists in qualifying the conditions and different specificities of the relations in which dance becomes political and which kind of politics every dance does.

In this text, I sought to avoid the logic of the or/or to think that the political sphere resides in the ambivalence of attitudes and possibilities that dance creates by existing, to propose the hypothesis that the disturbing quality of the works Quebradas do mundaréu and Kuarup… consists in the fact that: in addition to providing us with insights into the politics of representation and into the relation between dance and government political power, they also inform us about dance and its decision-making politics in relation to dance itself, both in its formal and socioeconomic aspects.

Under this aegis, the challenge would not be to decide whether art is political or not, whether Ballet Stagium was or was not resistance to the dictatorship, but to reflect on dance from a less normative point of view, detached from canonical anxiety (Franko, 2006FRANKO, Mark. Dance and the Political: States of Exception. Dance Research Journal, v. 38, n. 1.2, 2006, p. 3-18.; Vallejos, 2020VALLEJOS, Juan Ignacio. Embarrar el canon: por una coreopolítica de la abundancia. Arte da Cena, 6(2), 2020, p. 7-37.). Debating exceptionality in history consists in challenging the canon as a hegemonic tool. And, by challenging the canonical historicity of Stagium, history is deprived from its supposedly universalist aspect, enabling us to think about our history and remove a veil, enabling us to perceive abandoned research alternatives, helping us to perceive the nexuses between dance and politics with more generous and caring eyes.

Notes

  • 1
    The historiography on that period, produced in the 21st century, has shown that the relations of citizens with the government in the period were multiple and differentiated, making it not viable to treat the military and society, censorship and artists in a Manichean and absolute manner, as emphasized by historians Carlos Fico (2002)FICO, Carlos. “Prezada censura”: cartas ao regime militar. Topoi, 2002, p. 251-286. and Daniel Aarão Reis Filho (2014)REIS FILHO, Daniel Aarão. Ditadura e democracia no Brasil: do golpe de 1964 à Constituicão de 1988. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 2014.. Accordingly, rather than using the term military dictatorship, the preferred choice has been to underscore the importance of civil society’s support and interaction in maintaining the military in power for more than two decades, thus employing term civil-military.
  • 2
    See the works by Inês Bogéa (2004)BOGÉA, Inês. Contraponto brasileiro no tempo da dança. Sala Preta, São Paulo, v. 4, 2004., Denise Siqueira (2006)SIQUEIRA, Denise. Corpo, comunicação e cultura: a dança contemporânea em cena. Campinas: Autores Associados, 2006., Flávia Fontes Oliveira (2007)OLIVEIRA, Flávia Fontes. A dança e a crítica: uma análise de suas relações na cidade de São Paulo. Dissertação (Mestrado em Comunicação e Semiótica) – Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo, São Paulo, 2007., Karla Regina Dunder Silva (2008)SILVA, Karla Regina Dunder. Comunicação, cultura, o balé moderno e a ditadura nos anos 70. Dissertação (Mestrado em Ciências da Comunicação) – Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, 2008., Luanne Vila Nova (2010)VILA NOVA, Luanne Miziara. As contribuições da dança na formação do indivíduo na pós modernidade. Trabalho de Conclusão de Curso (Graduação em Gestão de Projetos Culturais e Organização de Eventos) – Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, 2010 and Elizabeth Pessôa Gomes da Silva (2013)SILVA, Elizabeth Pessôa Gomes da. Décio Otero: danças, andanças e mudanças nos prelúdios do Ballet Stagium. Belém: Paka-Tatu, 2013..
  • 3
    This historical way of understanding political consciousness is a basic premise for comprehending political actions, as proposed by classical Marxism, according to which social groups or classes should have –– or acquire –– awareness as to their position in relation to the social totality.
  • 4
    Dance critic Maribel Portinari (1989)PORTINARI, Maribel. História da dança. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 1989. chose the works Diadorim (1972/74), Quebradas do mundaréu (1975) and Kuarup, ou a questão do índio (1977) as the best creations by Décio Otero, initiating a selection in the works produced by Stagium. Another dance critic, Lineu Dias (1992, p. 98 and 100)DIAS, Lineu; NAVAS, Cássia. Dança moderna. Secretaria Municipal de Cultura: São Paulo, 1992., highlighted Quebradas do mundaréu (1975) as a theatrical adaptation of Plínio Marcos’ play Navalha na carne (1967), whose condition as prohibited by the censorship at the time is mentioned. Although not objectively associating the Stagium’s work to political protest, Dias specifies the oppressive condition of censorship regarding a singular work; in addition, he qualifies the work Kuarup, ou a questão do índio (1977) as a milestone in the company’s oeuvre.
  • 5
    The research by historian Daniela de Sousa Reis (2005)REIS, Daniela de Sousa. Representações de brasilidade nos trabalhos do Grupo Corpo: (des)construção da obra coreográfica 21. Dissertação de Mestrado. Programa de Pós-Graduação em História, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia. Uberlândia, 2005. is an example of how artists add meaning to their works after receiving comments from the specialized critics, as shown in the analysis of work 21 by Grupo Corpo.
  • 6
    In an interview contained in the documentary Teatro, Cultura e sociedade, directed by Carlos Meceni, Marika Gidali confirmed that the proposal to stage Navalha na Carne was made by Ademar Guerra. See: GIDALI, Marika; OTERO Décio. Teatro, cultura e sociedade. Dir. Carlos Meceni. São Paulo: Associação Paulista de Arte, Cultura e Educação, DVD, 2002. 43 min.
  • 7
    “[…] as the contest over what difference difference can make (in the double sense of that which diverges from what is dominant in the present, and the expansive multiplicity of human expression that demands adjudication and decision). In this regard, politics is activity already in motion. It does not await ignition”.
  • 8
    This subject is found in almost every interview of the period in printed periodicals, as can be seen, for example, in: BULIK, Linda. O Stagium vem aí. Folha 2. Londrina, 30 nov. 1971BULIK, Linda. O Stagium vem aí. Folha 2. Londrina, 30 nov. 1971.; FUSER, Fausto. Ballet Stagium: um ano de vida com luta. Folha de São Paulo. São Paulo, 29 out. 1972. p. 64. (Caderno de Domingo); O Balé Stagium mostra hoje obra de Marika Gidali e Décio Otero. Correio do Povo. Porto Alegre, 6 out. 1973; PENNA, Catarina Vitória. Ballet Stagium: o acerto dos passos. Jornal do Brasil. Rio de Janeiro, 26 set. 1974. p. 4 (Caderno B); FERREIRA, Edmar. Em busca de uma nova realidade. Dançando. Jornal da Tarde. São Paulo, 27 set. 1975. p. 17; FERREIRA, Edmar. À procura de um novo corpo. Dançando. O Estado de São Paulo. São Paulo, 23 fev. 1976; GIDALI, Marika. Cervantino: “Stagium”: grupo brasileño que vive por ‘amor el arte’. El Sol de León, León-Guanajuato, 04 mai. 1977a.
  • 9
    Among the tactics for demystification, a criticism of foreign elements in dance is commonly found. Ballet Stagium also adopted an open political posture on how, in Brazil, foreign artists are valued more than those who trained and work in our country. It was in this sense that the work Dança das cabeças of 1978 was explained by Marika Gidali in an interview to the newspaper Última Hora, as valuing our things: […] “It is an alert in dance form as to foreign cultural penetration. A cry in defense of what is ours.” See: Qual é a sua… Marika Gidali? Última Hora. São Paulo, 19 jul. 1978. p. 13QUAL é a sua... Marika Gidali? Última Hora. São Paulo, 19 jul. 1978, p. 13..
  • 10
    Here, the different contracts and formal dialogues established by Ballet Sta-gium with the government at the time of the civil-military dictatorship in its different bodies also serve as supporting evidence. See: Guarato (2019)GUARATO, Rafael. Ballet Stagium e a fabricação de um mito: imbricações entre dança, história, memória e critica de dança. Curitiba: CRV, 2019..
  • 11
    See: Comissão Estadual de Dança. Comissão de Dança refuta acusações. Folha de São Paulo. São Paulo, 8 dez. 1972COMISSÃO Estadual de Dança. Comissão de Dança refuta acusações. Folha de São Paulo. São Paulo, 8 dez. 1972. Ilustrada, p. 31;. Ilustrada, p. 31; MAGALDI, Sábato. Problemas e planos do Ballet Stagium. Jornal da Tarde. São Paulo, 17 jul. 1972, p. 50.
  • 12
    Ballet Stagium obtained several contracts with the Municipal administration of São Paulo, among which we highlight case no. 113,406/75, which contracted the company to perform three presentations for the amount of Cr$ 60,000.00. See. Cultura. Diário Oficial do Município de São Paulo, 11 dez. 1975CULTURA. Diário Oficial do Município de São Paulo, 11 dez. 1975, p. 10., p. 10. Other contracts can be found in the secretary’s orders: Cultura. Diário Oficial do Município de São Paulo, 14 ago. 1976, p. 15 e 17 jul. 1976, p. 12; Cultura. Diário Oficial do Município de São Paulo, 05 jul. 1978, p. 12
  • 13
    Some contracts and their values can also be found in the records of the Official Gazette of the State of São Paulo. See. DOSP, 20 fev. 1975, p. 54; DOSP, 21 jan. 1975, p. 57; DOSP, 30 jan. 1975, p. 47; Extrato de Contratos da Secretaria de Cultura, Ciência e Tecnologia. DOSP, 06 ago. 1976, p. 57CULTURA. Diário Oficial do Município de São Paulo, 14 ago. 1976, p. 15 e 17.; Extrato de Contratos da Secretaria de Cultura, Ciência e Tecnologia. DOSP, 08 nov. 1977, p. 48; Extrato de Contratos da Secretaria de Cultura, Ciência e Tecnologia. DOSP, 12 nov. 1977, p. 76.
  • 14
    Examples of these actions are company presentations financed by the MEC and projects in which it participated, such as Barca da Cultura. See. HELENA, Regina. Stagium abriu caminhos para dança. A Gazeta. São Paulo, 4 set. 1974. (Variedades); MAGNO, Paschoal Carlos. A barca do poeta. Veja. São Paulo, ano 06, n. 286, 27 fev. 1974, p. 74; RIBEIRO, Monike Garcia. Um estudo de caso de política cultural na história do Brasil contemporâneo: Paschoal Carlos Magno (1962-1964). O Olho da História, Salvador (BA), n. 15, dez. 2010.
  • 15
    Such information can be found in the Proceedings of the Dance Committee of the São Paulo Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism. Due to the extent of their recurrence, we mention just a few: ATA da 18ª Reunião Ordinária da Comissão Estadual de Dança, 27 jan. 1972COMISSÃO Estadual de Dança. Comissão de Dança refuta acusações. Folha de São Paulo. São Paulo, 8 dez. 1972. Ilustrada, p. 31;. Secretaria de Cultura, Esporte e Turismo do Estado de São Paulo. Arquivo Suspenso. Livros de Atas do Conselho Estadual de Cultura. Pasta 1971-1973, p. 15; Atas 19º, 21º, 28º e 32º, referentes às reuniões ordinárias da Comissão Estadual de Dança em 1972COMISSÃO Estadual de Dança. Comissão de Dança refuta acusações. Folha de São Paulo. São Paulo, 8 dez. 1972. Ilustrada, p. 31;. Secretaria de Cultura, Esporte e Turismo do Estado de São Paulo. Arquivo Suspenso. Livros de Atas do Conselho Estadual de Cultura. Pasta 1971-1973, p. 15.b, 17.b, 22.b-23.b. e 25.b-26, respectivamente; ATA da 14ª Reunião Ordinária da Subcomissão de Dança, 02 maio 1974. Câmara de Artes do Conselho Estadual de Cultura da Secretaria de Cultura, Esporte e Turismo do Estado de São Paulo. São Paulo: Secretaria de Estado de Cultura, Arquivo Suspenso. Livros de Atas da Subcomissão de Dança do Conselho Estadual de Cultura. Pasta 1974-1975, p. 9-9.b; ATA da 40ª Reunião Ordinária da Subcomissão de Dança, 31 out. 1974. CACEC, SECTUR-SP. SC, AS. LASD/CEC. P. 1974-1975, p. 24-24.b; ATA da 72ª Reunião Ordinária da Subcomissão de Dança, 11 jun. 1975. CACEC, SECTUR-SP. SC, AS. LASD/CEC. P. 1974-1975, p. 39.b-40; ATA da 2ª Reunião Ordinária da Comissão Estadual de Dança, 12 jul. 1976. SECTUR-SP. DACH. AS. LACEC. P. 1976-1979, p. 1.b-2; ATA da 3ª Reunião Ordinária da Comissão Estadual de Dança, 19 jul. 1976. SECTUR-SP. DACH. AS. LACEC. P. 1976-1979, p. 2.b-3; ATA da 6ª Reunião Ordinária da Comissão Estadual de Dança, 09 ago. 1976. SECTUR-SP. DACH. AS. LACEC. P. 1976-1979, p. 4.b-5; ATA da 15ª Reunião Ordinária da Comissão Estadual de Dança, 18 out. 1976. SECTUR-SP. DACH. AS. LACEC. P. 1976-1979, p. 11-11.b; ATA da 56ª Reunião Ordinária da Comissão Estadual de Dança, 12 set. 1977. SECTUR-SP. DACH. AS. LACEC. P. 1976-1979, p. 45; ATA da 57ª Reunião Ordinária da Comissão Estadual de Dança, 26 set. 1977. SECTUR-SP. DACH. AS. LACEC. P. 1976-1979, p. 45.b-47; ATA da 68ª Reunião Ordinária da Comissão Estadual de Dança, 31 janeiro 78. SECTUR-SP. DACH. AS. LACEC. P. 1976-1979.
  • 16
    In Brazil, the theoretical equivalent of Randy Martin’s proposal that spread through the publishing market is the work Le partage du sensible by French philosopher Jacques Rancière (2000). And for recognizing that within dance studies Martin had proposed the study of dance making and its public sharing outside the auspices of the symbolic sphere, coordinating the concepts of mobilization, desire and agency as specific politics of artistic making –– more than a decade in advance of Rancière ––, I employ Martin’s works as theoretical assumptions. However, this same sense of dance politics that I present is consistent with the conclusions that Marina Guzzo and Mary Spink (2015)GUZZO, Marina Souza Lobo; SPINK, Mary Jane Paris. Arte, Dança e Política(s). Psicologia & Sociedade, 27(1), 2015, p. 3-12. and Lucía Naser (2017)NASER, Lucía. De la politización de la danza a la dancificación de la política. Tese de Doutorado em Filosofia: University of Michigan, 2017. reach through Rancière.
  • 17
    “Dance occurs through forces applied to the body that yields to them, only to generate powers of their own”.
  • 18
    “…aspect of an artwork or art practice that addresses the ways it acts and intervenes in the public sphere”.
  • 19
    Version celebrating the 40-year anniversary of Ballet Stagium, produced by TV SESC, available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GLwk-FLYYoA>. Accessed on: April 22, 2021.
  • 20
    “Politics are not located directly ‘in’ dance, but in the way dance manages to occupy (cultural) space”.
  • 21
    “It is not a signifier to any signified. Rather, the movement communicates through its kinetic effects”.
  • This original paper, translated by Roberto Cândido Francisco (Tikinet Edição Ltda.), is also published in Portuguese in this issue of the journal.

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    09 Sept 2021
  • Date of issue
    2022

History

  • Received
    24 Apr 2021
  • Accepted
    05 Aug 2021
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