The literature that drives the work of Lia Rodrigues

Adriana Pavlova About the author

RESUMO

Este artigo apresenta as leituras que moveram o trabalho da coreógrafa Lia Rodrigues (1956), desde os anos 1990, até sua peça de 2016, Para que o céu não caia. O estudo elenca obras de ficção e não ficção, incluindo literatura, filosofia e antropologia, que serviram de dispositivos disparadores para as dramaturgias dos trabalhos, sem, contudo, buscar traduzir a palavra escrita de forma linear ou narrativa em dança. A análise apresenta estas dobras coreográficas, que fogem de uma leitura convencional, para atingir estados corporais nos bailarinos. O levantamento das leituras é apresentado em sua relação com o repertório da companhia, propondo diálogos de fragmentos dos textos com a dança.

Palavras-chave:
Dança; Criação coreográfica; Literatura; Transcriação; Lia Rodrigues

RÉSUMÉ

Cet article présente les lectures qui ont animé le travail de la chorégraphe Lia Rodrigues (1956), depuis les années 1990, jusqu'à la pièce de 2016, Pour que le ciel ne tombe pas. L'étude énumère des œuvres de fiction et de non-fiction, notamment de littérature, de philosophie et d'anthropologie, qui ont servi de déclencheurs aux dramaturgies des œuvres, sans toutefois chercher à traduire en danse les écrits sous forme linéaire ou narrative. L'analyse présente ces doublages chorégraphiques, qui échappent à une lecture conventionnelle pour atteindre différents états corporels chez les danseurs. Le relevé des lectures est présenté en relation avec le répertoire de la compagnie, proposant des dialogues entre des fragments de textes et la danse.

Mots-clés:
Danse; Création chorégraphique; Littérature; Transcréation; Lia Rodrigues

ABSTRACT

The literature that drives the work of Lia Rodrigues1 1 This paper is the result of my doctoral thesis. See Pavlova, 2021. - This article presents the readings that inspired the work of choreographer Lia Rodrigues (1956), starting in the 1990s and ending with her 2016 piece, For the sky not to fall. The study lists works of fiction and non-fiction, including literature, philosophy, and anthropology, which served as triggering devices for the works’ dramaturgies, while still not seeking to translate the written word in linear or narrative form into dance. The analysis presents this choreographic unfolding, which eschews a conventional reading, to achieve bodily states in the dancers. The collection of readings is presented in relation to the company’s repertoire, proposing dialogues between text fragments and dance.

Keywords:
Dance; Choreographic creation; Literature; Transcreation; Lia Rodrigues

Introduction

It is impossible to dissociate literature and philosophy from the poetic work of choreographer Lia Rodrigues (1956). A curious and in-depth intellectual, she is a voracious reader who uses fiction and non-fiction as triggering devices for the dramaturgy of her works, both on and off stage. At the core of each piece created for Lia Rodrigues Companhia de Danças2 2 In 2021, the Lia Rodrigues Dance Company (http://www.liarodrigues.com) completes 31 years of existence. The last 17 years were spent in the Favela Complex of Maré, in the periphery zone of Rio de Janeiro, where the group moved to a residence in 2004 and, since then, they have created all their work there, helping to found the Centro de Artes da Maré (2009) and the Escola Livre de Dança da Maré (2011), both the result of a partnership with Redes de Desenvolvimento da Maré (https://www.redesdamare.org.br/). , there are literary, philosophical, and anthropological texts, feeding and provoking the creative laboratory to irrigate the invention of new worlds. “I always start from literature for my work. I need to read a lot to be in a state of creation, a state of poetry” (Rodrigues, 2019RODRIGUES, Lia. Conceição Evaristo foi o farol que me deixou mais sensível. Folha de S. Paulo, São Paulo, 20 out. 2019. Ilustríssima. Disponível em: <https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/ilustrissima/2019/10/conceicao-evaristo-foi-farol-que-me-deixou-mais-sensivel-diz-lia-rodrigues.shtml > Acesso em: 12 nov. 2019.
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), said the artist, in a statement to the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo. In a 2020 interview, the choreographer added: “I really like to read philosophy and fiction. There are books that I found to be the ignition for my work. [...] Literature is a great laboratory from which we experiment [...]” (Rodrigues, 2020RODRIGUES, Lia. Territórios da Dança. In: Revista E. São Paulo, Sesc, n. 287, setembro 2020. Disponível em: https://www.sescsp.org.br/online/artigo/14681_TERRITORIOS+DA+DANCA Acesso em: 25 nov. 2020.
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).

It is not an attempt at transcribing or translating the written word or even narratives into dance, as many choreographers did in the early days of dance or still do, but rather the use of literature and other non-fictional works as a source of inspiration and interlocution with the world and with art. It is from the many solitary readings that ideas, images, sensations, and fabulations emerge, which Lia takes to the rehearsal room and shares with the performers in a true collective elaboration process. They begin with improvisations and embodiments, gradually metamorphosing into choreographic cells or frameworks, and later into the dance itself. It is a long process3 3 Historically, the company’s creations are conceived over a period of at least six months but, in certain cases, they took approximately nine months including design and rehearsals. - for the molds of art in neoliberal times - in search of bodies capable of handling the work under construction.

They are choreographic bends and twists that go far beyond the initial narratives or texts, becoming flesh, materiality, creating a vigorous place for reflection and thought, full of images capable of surviving the ephemerality of the body’s arts. In October 2015, this choreographer talked to me about her way of working with words: “My use of authors is not the same as someone who studies literature or philosophy. I use the sensations that the book brings me”4 4 Face-to-face interview with the author, held on October 27, 2015, in the Centro de Artes da Maré, Rio de Janeiro. , she said.

In the exercise of literary-choreographic fabulation that has been a hallmark of Lia Rodrigues’ work since 1990, when her company was created, I perceive multiple strategies for approaching texts. Sometimes a book is enough to support an idea, as in Encarnado (2005), whose essay Diante da Dor dos Outros (Regarding the Pain of Others), by Susan Sontag, was used to promote reflections on the arrival of the company’s bodies to the Maré favela.5 5 “Maré is a set of 16 favelas where 140,000 people reside, spread out over the strip that goes from Caju to Ramos, via Avenida Brasil, the avenue that links downtown to the periphery areas of Rio de Janeiro’s Zona Oeste” (Silva, 2012, p. 61). Or a simple word that turned into movement, like what happened with arfar, taken from Clarice Lispector’s chronicle for the performance Descoberta do mundo (Discovery of the world), of 2013, an embryo of Pindorama (2013). And many books that trigger sensations and new corporealities, such as Grande sertão: veredas, by Guimarães Rosa, to Pororoca (2007); Saturno nos trópicos: a melancolia europeia chega ao Brasil, by Moacyr Scliar about the history of melancholy, used in Piracema (2009); and A queda do céu - Palavras de um xamã yanomami, by Davi Kopenawa and Bruce Albert, and Há mundo por vir? - Ensaio sobre os medos e os afins, by philosopher Deborah Danowski and anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro arriving at the choreography of Para que o céu não caia (For the sky not to fall) (2016). And, finally, bedside books that work as guides, to be consulted from time to time, among which is Macunaíma, by Mário de Andrade. As we can see, in Lia Rodrigues’ trajectory, literature is the most robust archive for the composition of the bodies and reflections that materialize her creations and actions. This historiographical article focuses on the readings that have moved the choreographer's work since her company was established in 1990 until her 2016 work, Para que o céu não caia. The systematized survey of the readings is presented in relation to the works in the company’s repertoire, proposing possible dialogues between fragments from the texts and the dance.

Literature and dance, historical context

The connection between dance and literature is historical and longstanding. As early as the 17th century - at the origins of what is known as classical ballet - several poets wrote verses for ballet librettos6 6 “In the relation between literature and dance, the libretto occupies an important space since in ballet it ensures comprehension of the narrative. In the theater, the spectator receives a program containing credits for the dancers, musicians and choreographer, but also the narrative of the story. As such, it is possible to read the synopsis in a few minutes before seeing it on the stage, translated into dance and pantomime” (Pereira, 2003, p. 117-118). , as researcher Roberto Pereira recounts in his book Giselle, o vôo traduzido: da lenda do balé (2003, p.118), in which he analyzes the transformation of a Slavic legend into dance. Giselle, which premiered at the Paris Opera in 1841, is the archetypal work of romantic ballet, at a time when “[...] the writer was a librettist, an inventor of scripts in which the choreographic writing was mimetic only of the narrative plot,”7 7 “...l’écrivain était un faiseur de livrets, un inventeur d’arguments dans lesquels l’écriture choréphaphique ne retenait, mimétiquement, que la trame narrative.” says French dance researcher Alice Godfroy. (2015, p.24)

In Brazil, two studies on the relationship between literary sources and choreography draw attention and both opt for an intersemiotic reading. In his aforementioned research on Giselle, Roberto Pereira maps out texts about the legend of women who died before marriage, transformed into ghosts, which might have influenced the conception of this ballet by the Frenchmen Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli, with libretto by Théophile Gautier. But Pereira moves beyond, penetrating the choreography itself. For him, in the second act - the fantastical and poetical part of the show -, the movement detaches itself from the legend to show a dance that transcends history, in an operation that seems to anticipate a freer relationship that takes place between choreography and writing from the 20th century on, at the onset of modern dance. “The dance is there, being both means and end. The legend is theme and alibi,” says Pereira (2003PEREIRA, Roberto. Giselle, o voo traduzido: da lenda ao balé. Rio de Janeiro: UniverCidade, 2003., p.141), referring to the second act of Giselle, in which the ghost dancers called ‘wilis’ poetically dance under the moonlight.

In her thesis Da Literatura para a dança: a prose-poética de Gertrude Stein em tradução intersemiotica (From Literature to dance: the poetic-prose of Gertrude Stein in intersemiotic translation) (2013), choreographer and researcher Daniella Aguiar presents translations for dance as ways of interpreting and reading literary texts. To this end, she articulates texts and plays by Gertrude Stein with dance performances, placing special emphasis on the transcription (poet Haroldo de Campos’s concept) of the Steinian perception of time and syntactic construction transformed into choreography. Dance researchers Mylla da Costa and Lenira Rengel (2020COSTA, Mylla da; RENGEL, Lenira. Corpos poéticos: o movimento da poesia concreta e o corpo que dança. In: SANTOS, Bárbara; BASTOS, Helena; TOURINHO, Lígia; ROCHA, Lucas (org.). Carnes vivas: dança, corpo e política. Salvador: ANDA, 2020. Coleção Quais danças estarão porvir? Trânsitos, poéticas e políticas do corpo, Volume 9. P. 635-647. E-book., p. 637) explain in another study that transcreation is a process that “[...] refers to a broader perspective of translation - which itself could also be a new creation - involving and aggregating the compositions of actions, relating the space-time of the moment of its creation”.

Both the concept of transcreation and that of creative translation - also by Haroldo de Campos and taken up by Aguiar in his thesis - seem to fit the analyses that this study intends to make of the relationship between the written word and the dance of Lia Rodrigues. For Campos, creative translation is preferentially guided by the action of the fragment, being more intensive than extensive. He says “[...] translation is a model in miniature, which casts a piercing light on the original, capable of revealing virtualities of the whole in an exponentiation of the part” (Campos apud Aguiar, 2013AGUIAR, Daniella de. Da literatura para a dança: a prosa-poética de Gertrude Stein em tradução intersemiótica. 2013. Tese de Doutorado, Programa de PósGraduação em Letras, Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro, 2013., p.170). Even though Lia does not perform translations per se, the use of texts as triggering devices for her dances and her political actions are close to the concepts of transcription and creative translation, in presenting her works, on and off stage, as the embodied materialization of an infinity of virtual possibilities contained in the original texts chosen and read by her.

From a historical perspective, it is with modern dance, in the early 20th century, that literature is no longer used as a literal or narrative source for choreographic creation. Poetry and fiction texts become activators of “[...] inner landscapes, poetic sensations, implicit, invisible, but fundamental, capable of setting the body in motion” (Godfroy, 2015GODFROY, Alice. Pourquoi la littérature mobilise-t-elle le corps dansant ? In: NACHTERGAEL, Magali; TOTH, Lucille (org.). Danse contemporaine et littérature: Entre fictions et performances écrites. Pantin: Centre National de la Danse, 2015. P. 23-30., p.24). These are bodies that, in order to move, no longer need the backing of stories or linear narratives, in a renewal initiated by two of the pioneers of modern dance, Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham. However, paradoxically, as Godfroy reminds us, the great majority of modern dancers and choreographers tend to distance themselves from the literary partnership, precisely because they seek the autonomy of a language that only at that moment manages to detach itself from other arts, to become an independent art, based on movement, no longer needing to hitch its dramaturgy to narratives or music.

But the estrangement did not last long. Dance and writing - in its different derivations - met again with strength and diversity in the final decades of the 20th century, within the contemporary choreographic scenario, marked by transdisciplinarity. Godfroy (2015GODFROY, Alice. Pourquoi la littérature mobilise-t-elle le corps dansant ? In: NACHTERGAEL, Magali; TOTH, Lucille (org.). Danse contemporaine et littérature: Entre fictions et performances écrites. Pantin: Centre National de la Danse, 2015. P. 23-30., p. 26) points out that today the use of text no longer has any exceptional prominence in a scenario where dance is the operator of artistic transversalities and the body that dances is in scenic dialogue in the same space-time with music, visual arts, theater, and literature. According to the French researcher, there would thus be a multiplicity of possibilities for the use of texts in choreographic creation, such as support for imagination, thematic source, writing device and inducer of motricity.

Mário de Andrade

Looking back, there are, among Lia Rodrigues’ vast and diverse private library, formative books, fundamental in the construction of her dance, which are the robust roots of her artistic thought. They are bedside books that she revisits frequently. Among them are three books connected to the work of Mário de Andrade, a seminal author for Lia Rodrigues, a major reference in her work since the 1990s. Macunaíma, o herói sem caráter and O Turista Aprendiz, both by Mário, and O Tupi e o Alaúde: uma interpretação de Macunaíma, by Gilda Melo e Sousa, are books that have accompanied the choreographer for many years.

It was in 1995 that Lia Rodrigues encountered the folkloric wanderings of Mário de Andrade throughout the north and northeast of Brazil, when she began a research project on ‘parlendas’ (nursery rhymes), sponsored by the now extinct Bolsa Vitae de Artes. Lia held Mário’s hands tightly for five years and, since then, she has never let go, as she likes to repeat whenever she has the chance. In 1996, she premiered Folia 1, completely absorbed by the São Paulo writer’s poetic-impressionist reports on popular artistic manifestations. The approach to Mário’s literary world gained more impetus in 1998, with the event Caixa de Folia, conceived along with journalist Anabela Paiva, at the Museu da República in Rio, which included a revised and expanded version of the previous piece, baptized Folia 2. Closing the cycle of a Brazilianinspired visuality, the following year in partnership with Sesc/SP, she created the project Coração dos Outros, Saravá Mário de Andrade, with an exhibition and circulation of shows in 69 different cities in São Paulo: “This project showed me that to be Brazilian, I should give my hand to Mário de Andrade, in a symbolic sense of course, and he took me throughout Brazil” (Rodrigues, 2020RODRIGUES, Lia. Territórios da Dança. In: Revista E. São Paulo, Sesc, n. 287, setembro 2020. Disponível em: https://www.sescsp.org.br/online/artigo/14681_TERRITORIOS+DA+DANCA Acesso em: 25 nov. 2020.
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), says the choreographer. In 2012, Lia picked three books to comment on in an episode of the television program Livros que amei (Books I loved), and O Turista Aprendiz (The Apprentice Tourist) was one of the titles selected, as she explained at the time:

I started reading about folklore, and of course I fell for Mário de Andrade. And I didn't know this side of Mário de Andrade; I knew the modernist Mário, Macunaíma, and not all this enormous contribution, or that he traveled all over Brazil, was familiar with everything about our culture, and did the wonderful work that was the research missions to the North and Northeast. I identify with this a lot in my own life; I try to do this, not only to create my work, but to think about the conditions, and the surroundings. [...] There is a gaze that interests me, which is to focus on the other, on what is different. This is what I really like about the Turista Aprendiz, Mário’s view of the other8 8 Livros que amei (Books that I loved). TV Programme, episode 8, Canal Futura. Direction Suzana Macedo. Rio de Janeiro, 22 May. 2012. (27m 25s). .

O Turista Aprendiz gathers impressionistic accounts of two expeditions by Mário de Andrade throughout the north and northeast of the country, with doses of fabulation, humor and poetry, as well as a keen eye for the new worlds that were unveiling before him. First, in 1927, he spent three months in the Amazon, a region that had already inspired the writing of Macunaíma, then still in the adjustment phase. There, according to researchers Telê Ancona Lopez and Tatiana Longo Figueiredo (2015), in an exquisite edition of the book, Mário became a researcher of ‘cirandas’ and ‘boi-bumbá’, recording melodies, legends and ‘parlendas’ in loco. Undoubtedly ethnographic, the next trip - from November 1928 to February 1929 - focused on the popular culture manifestations of the Brazilian northeast, precisely during the Christmas, New Year's Eve and Carnival celebrations. This project was documented by the writer while he was still in the field, in a diary in the form of a pamphlet published in the newspaper Diário Nacional.

In these writings, I detect an enchantment for a totally new, unusual Brazil, capable of stirring his identity bases, as he himself recognizes, in an excerpt from the book read by Lia Rodrigues in the above-mentioned program: “There is a kind of deep-seated sensation of insufficiency, of the multicolored variety, that spoils all the gray and well-arranged Europeans I still have inside of me” (Andrade, 2015ANDRADE, Mario. O turista aprendiz. Edição de textos apurado, anotada e acrescida de documentos por Telê Ancona Lopez e Tatiana Longo Figueiredo. Brasília, DF: Iphan, 2015., p.67).

This vertiginous dive into Mário’s work says a lot about the artistic path of Lia Rodrigues from then on. Folia 1 and 2 showed an explicit influence of the modernist writer, in the movement, costumes, stage props, soundtrack, and even in the ‘parlendas’ (nursery rhymes) that tied the works together as if, for the choreographer, at that moment, it was necessary to make use of an unabashed Brazilianness, without nuances. In her review after the piece’s premiere, at the Lyon Dance Biennale, in 1996, Helena Katz reaffirmed Folia’s commitment to Brazilian roots.

Seldom has one seen a manifesto of Brazilianness under the label of modern dance performed with such wisdom. Lia has not only created her best work, but also an important piece for dance. [...] It is brilliant how Lia managed to give choreographic form to the structure of repetition, superimposition and separation upon which the parlendas are built. (Katz, 1996KATZ, Helena. Lia Rodrigues faz manifesto à brasilidade. O Estado de S. Paulo, São Paulo, 15 de set. 1996. Caderno 2.).

Antropophagy

The relationship with the heritage of the modernist writer gained new nuances over the years. Mário, his contemporary Oswald de Andrade and the whole anthropophagic heritage of both were essential for Lia to consolidate issues that became central in her political-poetic project, such as the appreciation of other origins besides the white colonizing one, especially the interest in the original peoples of Brazil; an oneiric atmosphere, which was translated in her dance into doses of humor contained in some of her pieces; and the opening of the body to new sensorial experiences, both for the dancers on stage and for the spectators of her works. The reading of the Manifesto Antropófago (Anthropophagic Manifesto) written by Oswald in 1928 (the same year as Mário’s second mission) marked, for example, the creation of Pindorama. Só me interessa o que não é meu (I’m only interested in what isn’t mine), a phrase symbolizing the manifesto and anthropophagic thought, could be the key to understanding the work of Lia Rodrigues, in her intense search for an exchange with others, for the recognition of other origins, stories beyond her own, that is, an assumed appreciation of alterity. It is a devouring, à la Oswald, of books, artistic forms, languages and temporalities, but also of people and stories; a gulping down of what comes from the outside, but also the understanding of what is inside, of our viscera, and of our own origins. Obviously, the project of approaching the other, of anthropophagic inspiration, moves from theory to practice like an avalanche with the company’s arrival at Maré. As Lia said in a 2017 interview:

There is an expression that I like: “we have to outrar” (*other as if a verb). We have to turn into the other. Not become the other totally, but look at the difference and find something that sometimes doesn't match, but it doesn't matter, we are together even if we don't match. My encounter with Maré is also like this (Veras, 2017VERAS, Luciana. O ato artístico não se limita à criação de uma obra. In: Continente, v. 1 jun. 2017. Disponível em: < https://www.revistacontinente.com.br/edicoes/198/ro-ato-artistico-nao-se-limita-a-criacao-de-uma-obrar Acesso em: 24 jun. 2020.
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).

Apparently, Lia subscribes to academic readings of anthropophagy as a movement in which there is a critical revision of the notion of fixed identity, inspired by indigenous ritual cannibalism, whose goal is to see oneself from the perspective of the other. The ‘othering’ of oneself, in fact. As Tania Rivera states, this is a movement that presupposes the decentering of the conception of self. “A model of incorporating the other that questions identity and plays with the boundaries between self and other, in a constant and constitutive exchange, in a game in which body and subject stand out and couple in a certain mobility” (Rivera, 2015RIVERA, Tânia. Por uma ética do estranho. In FABIÃO, Eleonora; LEPECKI, André (org.). Ações Eleonora Fabião. Rio de Janeiro: Tamanduá Arte, 2015. P. 294-306., p.298). A critical devouring, according to Haroldo de Campos (1981CAMPOS, Haroldo de. Da razão antropofágica: a Europa sob o signo da devoração. In: Colóquio Letras, Lisboa, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian. Lisboa, n. 62, p. 10-25. Julho, 1981. Disponível em: http://coloquio.gulbenkian.pt/bib/sirius.exe/issueContentDisplay?n=62&p=10&o=p Acesso em: 24 nov. 2020.
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, p.11), that involves a “[...] transculturation; better yet, a ‘transvaluation’ [...] capable of both appropriation and expropriation, de-hierarchization and deconstruction.” It is a chance to look at the other, but, at the same time, to look at oneself, creating new and interesting paths of fabulation and conceptual imagination, in the words of anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro:

What every experience of another culture offers us is the occasion to conduct an experiment on our own culture; much more than an imaginary variation - the introduction of new variables or contents into our imagination - it is the very form, or rather the structure of our conceptual imagination that must enter into a regime of variation, to assume itself as a variant, version, transformation (Castro, 2018CASTRO, Eduardo Viveiros. Metafísicas canibais: Elementos para uma antropologia pós-estrutural. São Paulo: Ubu: N-1edições, 2018., p.21).

The proposal of getting closer to the differences and other identities that marked the arrival at Maré permeated the first work conceived by the company in the favela, Encarnado, which had as its literary support the essay Regarding the pain of others, by Sontag. The reading guided the first moments of creation already in Maré9 9 See Pavlova, 2015. , precisely to inquire about the extent of the impact of this arrival on the choreographers and dancers’ bodies. It was a compass text that aimed at offering exercises of choreographic imagination capable of penetrating the poisons and nourishments that arose in the encounter with that unknown terrain, full of complexities.

Before getting into Encarnado, it is important to register two other reading movements carried out by Lia in the late 1990s and early 2000s, hence, prior to her arrival at Maré. In 1998, the choreographer began to participate in the Dance Studies Group of Rio de Janeiro10 10 The group that met weekly to read and study together was founded in 1998 by the critics Silvia Soter, Roberto Pereira, Beatriz Cerbino, the choreographer and researcher Dani Lima, and Lia Rodrigues. The meetings went on until 2006, including other members, among them the author of the article. . Among the titles chosen in the first years, a philosophically oriented scientific literature, written by contemporary thinkers-scientists-studies, dealing with subjects such as emotion, cognition, evolutionary theory, art and science, stands out.11 11 Decartes’ Error, from the Portuguese neuroscientist António Damásio; Darwin’s Dangerous Idea by the American philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett; River Out of Eden, from British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins; and the doctoral thesis by professor and critic Helena Katz, Um, dois, três: a dança é o pensamento do corpo, are some of the books that were cited as the most noteworthy by members of the Dance Studies Group. In my opinion, these reflections ended up impacting the bodies presented in Aquilo de que somos feitos (That which we are made of), a work from 2000, marked by a series of aesthetic and political transformations of the choreographic work of Lia Rodrigues, both on and off stage. The ticket cost R$1.99 and, in the program, there was a detailed list of the production’s expenses, all with the clear objective of raising the discussion about the value of art and its market. In the performance hall, there was no marked seat for the spectators, who could move around during the performance and choose their observation point, in a relationship never before explored by the company. In some scenes, the performers experimented formally with naked bodies - without any narrative purpose - and in others, there was an assumed political engagement as a flag.

For Formas Breves, the company’s 2002 play, the reference reading was Seis propostas para o próximo milênio (Six memos for the next millennium), by Ítalo Calvino, who, in an almost unusual way, joined the legacy of German artist Oskar Schlemmer, one of the founders of the modernist design and architecture movement born in the Bauhaus school in the 1920s. According to the program on the company's website, they have in common, “[...] the discussion of man and his future and the investigation of the structures behind the artistic work”12 12 Available at: http://www.liarodrigues.com/page2/styled-8/styled-19/index.php Accessed on October 11, 2020. .

Regarding the pain of others

Sontag's essay Regarding the pain of others is a reflection on the possible effects of war images on those who see them far from the battlefield. Lia and the dancers chose Maré as an artistic and political battlefield, a project whose proposal is to look at the other, to decolonize bodies, mix worlds and weave new encounters. Is there satisfaction in looking at a cruel image without flinching? Does seeing a painful reality change our behavior, that is, does it make us think about evil or does it make us indifferent to inhumanities? Is it possible to assimilate the suffering of others? Does the overwhelming amount of cruel images displayed by the media in the contemporary world make us less sensitive? Does shock have an expiration date? Can shock become familiar? Are we all cynical when faced with the pain of others? These are some of the questions raised by Sontag's essay, which, in different ways, served as a provocation for the creative process of the choreographer and her team.

Encarnado13 13 A short clip of this work is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ6SY0Ug4H0 deals with the pain of others, our own pains, coexistence or the difficulties of living together, of finding and losing oneself, of bodies exposed to the world and the pains of the world, of violent images that, when they become banal, may or may not hurt us deeply, and of the possible - so very possible - passivity in the face of human cruelty. It fascinates and impacts precisely because it addresses crucial issues in a society that sometimes seems to be in pieces, anesthetized. It is raw and, at times, has a lot of cruelty involved. That's why, like images of war violence, it has so much potential to stir the audience, creating connections and empathy with the spectator. Here is what Sontag writes in one of the excerpts from Regarding the pain of others:

To designate a hell is not, of course, to tell us anything about how to extract people from that hell, how to moderate hell’s flames. Still, it seems a good in itself to acknowledge, to have enlarged, one’s sense of how much suffering caused by human wickedness there is in the world we share with others (Sontag, 2003SONTAG, Susan. Diante da dor dos outros. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2003., p. 95).

The reading of Regarding the pain of others inspired the choreographer and her dancers to collect images of brutal crimes published in the newspaper, to be re-enacted in the rehearsal room. One of them showed a Carioca businessman murdered downtown, his inert body appearing in the newspaper in the arms of his mother, an old lady kneeling on the ground in tears. The image was transformed into a scene baptized Pietà, in which one dancer cradles the other in her lap, nursing her with a white liquid (milk cream), which explodes and drips down the bodies of both. It is, therefore, a dance that captures the moment, presenting violence beyond the favela.

There are several moments in Encarnado in which naked bodies are on display, covered in blood-red liquid (a mixture made of ketchup, tomato sauce, and peeled tomatoes), highlighting both the human being's vulnerability and his/her animal side. One dancer vomits blood; another seems to defecate blood; another bursts into the room with a white shirt splattered with red, as if he had held someone bleeding or even been shot, runs from side to side in desperation, trying to say something, but cannot say anything comprehensible; two dancer-dogs, moving on all fours, bite a dancer, dragged by them along the floor, furiously tearing off her clothes and entrails with their mouths - they are, in fact, pieces of gauze soaked with red liquid that are already in their mouths, but seem to have been taken from her body.

Grande sertão: veredas

Pororoca (2007)14 14 This video, produced by the 2010 Panorama festival about Pororoca, contains scenes from the work as well as Lia Rodrigues talking about the creation process. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMmFvCXdx3g15 Interview with the author, by telephone, on October 9, 2015. , the play that followed Encarnado, marks an aesthetic turning point in the work of Lia Rodrigues. Through Pororoca, the choreographer and dancers begin a new relationship with literature, more in tune with the bodily states themselves, even if they use texts as a poetic foundation. Pororoca is a piece in which the bodies of the performers vibrate and, as such, make the bodies of the audience vibrate. They are mobilizing, noisy, turbulent bodies that explode on stage, engaging those around them. It is a triggering device more connected to sensations and sensorialities, capable of offering new experiences of time and space, and which, from that point on, comes to be used as a creative tool, perfected from one work to the next.

Pororoca is a piece that shatters even more explosively the boundaries between art and everyday experience, as well as between art and life, in a more intense and effective approach to the ground of Maré. It is an approximation that begins in fact with a new floor, a new work structure, in a space for choreographer and dancers to call their own, next to Redes de Desenvolvimento da Maré (Maré Development Networks). After an intense search, Lia Rodrigues found in a closed warehouse in the community of Nova Holanda, very close to Avenida Brasil, the apparently ideal place to house the company and also many other art and culture projects from Redes, the Arts Center of Maré. And the whole conception of Pororoca takes place in the midst of this moment of change and intense flux of performers and choreographers through the streets of Maré. It is a dance that was born contaminated by that territory, now much closer to the daily life of the artists’ bodies that leave the surface to penetrate deeper into the ground. It is a dance that captures the moment, the surroundings, and articulates the context in which it was created in order to deal with a theme that concerns every human being and their subjectivities: being together. It is an invitation to outrar-se (other oneself). “Pororoca is similar to the things I feel when I walk around here in New Holland”, said the choreographer in an interview to Helena Katz (2009)KATZ, Helena. Lia Rodrigues faz Pororoca na França. O Estado de S. Paulo, São Paulo, 17 nov. 2009. Caderno 2., on the eve of the premiere.

And in the search for bodily states born from her wanderings through Maré, Lia arrived at the reading of Grande sertão: veredas (The devil to pay in the backlands). It was a reading capable of opening new perceptions and poetic understandings. Guimarães Rosa's greatest work offered openings for bodily experiences, as the choreographer told me in a conversation in 2015:

A line by Antonio Candido about Grande Sertão guided me. He said that Tom Jobim picked up the book and heard music. I found this line so extraordinary. In my case, I read dance. I understood a way of being. After page 60, I was thrown into another universe, it seemed as if I was in another place, living a physical experience, created by words. Pororoca is something that happens inside, a way of moving. Guimarães Rosa helped me to imagine, to make choices15 15 Entrevista feita pela autora, por telefone, em 9 out. 2015. .

The critic Antonio Candido defines Grande sertão: veredas as a literature of imagination that plays with inventions in language, composition, plot, and psychology. The critic evaluates that “[...] there is everything for those who know how to read” (Candido, 2002CANDIDO, Antonio. O homem dos avessos. In: Tese e antítese, ensaios. T.A Queiroz: São Paulo, 4ª edição, 2002., p. 121), as perceived by Lia in her assumed option for physical transcreation of the work. And he adds: “Everything is strong, beautiful, impeccably realized. Each one can approach it as he or she pleases, according to his or her craft; but in every aspect the author's fundamental trait will appear: absolute confidence in the freedom to invent” (2002, p. 121), wrote Candido. For Haroldo de Campos, the more complex the text, the more freedom the transcreator of the work has, as seems to have occurred to Lia Rodrigues in her reading of Guimarães Rosa: “Translation of creative texts will always be recreation, or parallel autonomous but reciprocal creation. The more difficult this text is, the more recreatable, the more seductive, as a possibility open to creation” (Campos apud Flores, 2016FLORES, Guilherme Gontijo. Da tradução em sua crítica: Haroldo de Campos e Henri Meschonnic. In: Circuladô, Revista de Estética e Literatura do Centro de Referência Haroldo de Campos - Casa das Rosas, ano 4, n. 5, mar. 2016, São Paulo.).

In an interview for the program Livros que amei, in 2012, Lia Rodrigues talks about her way of reading O livro do desassossego (The book of disquiet), by Fernando Pessoa under the heteronym Bernardo Soares, the same reading gesture she seems to have used in Grande sertão: veredas, opting for a relationship with literature that goes far beyond rational perception. As a child - the choreographer mentioned in the program - she would spend hours talking to her sisters, exchanging impressions about what each one of them fabulated when reading the same books. Concerning O Livro do Desassossego, Lia said:

I open it, read it, and there are those big, giant texts that have no period, barely a comma. I read like a whirlwind. I have a physical experience of the book when I read. I get into it and start to be like this, I move differently, when I am reading I imagine myself moving16 16 Livros que amei. TV Programme, episode 8, Canal Futura. .

Pororoca begins with the 11 dancers in a corner of the stage, shuffling, and holding various objects. There are chairs, tables, clothes, and cardboard. Suddenly, they throw everything up in the air and the floor is quickly covered by the objects strewn around. Among women’s panties, a piece of a box, and a blouse, an agitated dance begins, with much skin rubbing, a lot of grinding of bodies, all close together, often in twos. Many noises come out of the mouths and the rubbing of the bodies, all of it very organic. They shake, rub against each other, grab each other, and in an instant stop to rest. Suddenly, everything starts all over again. They fall to the ground, rub against each other, turn into mandalas, until they stop again. They eat fruit, lick themselves, all unceremoniously, animal-like. Then they literally become animals. There are cats in heat, horses, pigs, howling, and barking. More roughhousing, more fights, more clashes, more lips pressed together, bodies embraced, bodies pressed together, more fights, more fondling. Sweat dripping, body stickiness; it's physical and intense.

Pororoca makes an inaugural and anthropophagic call to the spectator. It is as if the choreographer and the performers were saying something like: let yourself be carried away by the sensations born from the encounters of the dancers’ bodies, enter this experience as you wish; feel, surrender, try new connections of time and space. Here, the bodies on stage do not ask for permission; they arrive and engage, without any ceremony. According to Lia, this is really a visit to the anthropophagic universe, in a new approach to the ideas of Oswald de Andrade. “It is not pornographic in the sense of touch and exhibition, but in the sense that you are not very sure of being in one place or another, and you feel that you can visit many different places in many different states. [...] one is forced to enter bodily into the experience” (Costa, 2010COSTA, Tiago Bartolomeu. Lia Rodrigues quer-nos aqui dentro. Público, Lisboa, 7 abr. 2010. Ípsilon.), said Lia in an interview about the work. In her own words, it is a shapeless, amoral work. Above all, Pororoca is to be felt:

It demands from the audience a physical experience, not a categorization [...] or a desire for understanding. We have to be free to receive, like when a pororoca passes by us. It is like when a carnival block passes by and there is that mess where you don’t really know what happened but you had a physical experience (Costa, 2010COSTA, Tiago Bartolomeu. Lia Rodrigues quer-nos aqui dentro. Público, Lisboa, 7 abr. 2010. Ípsilon.).

Saturno nos trópicos

These noisy, moving, mobilizing bodies of Pororoca gain another vibratory frequency in the following work, Piracema17 17 Scenes from Piracema are contained in this short video. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ77JOXOA64 , which, in Tupi Guarani, means the ascent of the fish against the current to spawn, and which, in my reading, works as a diptych next to the previous work. Pororoca and Piracema deal with being together from different angles, different intensities, and diverse corporealities. They seem to answer philosopher Baruch Espinosa's famous question: “What can a body do?” by pointing to two different but complementary paths. It seems to me that Lia and the other artist-creators have asked themselves, “What can a body in Maré that is also a body of the world do when it encounters other world-bodies?”, “What is the political force of these bodies, both together and apart?” In the first answer, as seen in Pororoca, 11 bodies rub against each other, love each other, hate each other, meet each other, clash, move apart, and soon after unite, attack each other, caress each other, turn into animals, all together and mixed together, in an explosion of senses.

Two years later, the same question has a much more arid answer: there are 11 bodies that never meet, are in the same space, but seem to look inward, to their subjectivities, often without noticing what is around them. A solo dance by 11 bodies. The noise that marks Pororoca becomes silence - or almost silence - in Piracema, which at nearly 60 minutes duration only contains a few passages of bossa nova (such as A felicidade and Chega de saudade, both by Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes), sung unpretentiously by one of the performers.

The bodies, which before were in the midst of the madness of day-today life in a world that does not stop, now realize that it is not easy to live under pressure and that loneliness can be very burdensome. It is impossible, here, not to connect the raw movement, the nervous laughter of the dancers, their fraught countenances, to the density of a deeper (and, of course, often painful and difficult) encounter with that terrain of layers and stories of Maré. Saturno nos trópicos - A melancholia europeia chega ao Brasil (Saturn in the tropics - European melancholy arrives in Brazil), by Moacyr Scliar, was the reading that guided Lia Rodrigues in the search for this more self-contained, withdrawn, and contained corporal state of Piracema. “It is a melancholic work and the book carried these sensations. It is something very Brazilian, a sadness, a banzo,” she told me.18 18 Interview with the author, by telephone, on October 9, 2015.

From the book, she took a phrase that evokes paradoxical feelings: “In a radiant land lives a sad people”, from Retrato do Brasil: ensaio sobre a tristeza brasileira (Portrait of Brazil, an essay on Brazilian sadness), by Paulo Prado, quoted by Scliar (2003SCLIAR, Moacyr. Saturno nos trópicos: a melancolia europeia chega ao Brasil. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2003., p.170). Saturno nos trópicos is a book-panorama that draws from literature, fine arts, medicine, and politics to deal with the history of melancholy and its ramifications in Brazilian culture. “Melancholy can also spread - a kind of psychic contagion -, dominating the climate of opinion and the emotional conjuncture in a group, a time, and a place,” writes Scliar (2003SCLIAR, Moacyr. Saturno nos trópicos: a melancolia europeia chega ao Brasil. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2003., p.9) in the very first pages, in a comparison of melancholy with the plague. His starting point is Robert Burton's book The Anatomy of Melancholy, released in 1621 in England. “Melancholy must be distinguished from sadness, which is to some extent a normal reaction to the upheavals of existence. Melancholy is not banal boredom, which ‘refers us to the real, to time, but not to the play of time, like melancholy’; in boredom, time does not pass, ‘it invariably revolves around itself,” says Scliar (p.56, 2003), quoting Burton. In another reference, this time to anthropologist Roger Batra, he states that “[...] melancholy was a disease of displaced people, of immigrants. [...] It was a disease that attacked those who had lost something and had not yet found what they were looking for” (Scliar, 2003SCLIAR, Moacyr. Saturno nos trópicos: a melancolia europeia chega ao Brasil. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2003., p.105). Could this therefore be the melancholy that surrounds Piracema, the melancholy of the incomplete?

A descoberta do mundo

Two years after Piracema, Lia Rodrigues closed a cycle called waters with Pindorama, a work that has as deflagrator a word taken from a chronicle by Clarice Lispector, another author dear to her. It all began with an invitation from theater director Christiane Jatahy to create a performance to be presented at Casa França-Brasil, in downtown Rio, in April 2013, that is, months before the premiere of Pindorama, in December of the same year, in France. Jatahy’s only request was that the performance should be inspired by a chronicle by Clarice from the collection A descoberta do mundo (The discovery of the world), with texts published by the author in Jornal do Brasil, from 1967 to 1973. Lia read the whole book, but it was a specific word that guided one of the ways the dancers would move both in the performance and in the work that would follow.

I accepted the invitation, read the whole book and had to choose a chronicle. Out of everything, I managed to choose one word, arfar (gasp), which I found in one of the chronicles, wherein Clarice opened a refrigerator and inside there was a live turtle that arfava (gasped). And I imagined in my head the cartoon where the turtle takes off its shell and has this little body, and I imagined a little body in living flesh, inside a refrigerator, occupying an entire shelf and that the flesh was breathing. So, I found a word that motivated me. I worked with the guys thinking about this19 19 Public statement by Lia Rodrigues, in March 2014, in Centro de Artes da Maré. .

In the chronicle Máquina escrevendo, from May 29, 1971, Clarice begins the text talking about the freedom to write, about the dream of leaving the page blank so that each reader could fill it with his or her own desires, and goes on until she starts talking about animals. At a certain point, she describes the thing inside the refrigerator:

The thing was white, very white. And, without a head, it gasped. With one lung. Like this: up, down, down, up. The person quickly closed the refrigerator. And stayed there nearby, with a beating heart. Then came the discovery. The owner of the house was an expert in spearfishing. And he had caught a turtle. And had taken the shell off. And he had put it in the refrigerator so that the next day he could cook and eat it. But while it remained uncooked, it gasped, headless, and naked. Like a bellow (Lispector, 1999LISPECTOR, Clarice. A descoberta do mundo. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Rocco, 1999., p.172).

For the performance, Lia used a long plastic tunnel, inspired by Lygia Clark's work, through which the naked dancers passed until they came out gasping for air, their bodies panting, tired, half people, half thing, struggling to survive. This exhausted, impotent, and depleted body appears again in Pindorama20 20 Excerpts from the work available on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLHlme_5cZ0 , as she recounts in an interview for the newspaper O Globo before the premiere in Maré, at the start of 2014.

At one point she (Clarice) talked about a gasping turtle. I had this image in my head. When I started to think about what kind of body we wanted to work with, it was this image that came to me. A body in surrender, without vitality, kind of at the mercy of others, like a castaway, with no way out. (Rubin, 2014RUBIN, Nani. Os novos mares de Lia Rodrigues. O Globo, Rio de Janeiro, 12 mar. 2014. Segundo Caderno.).

In Pindorama, there are other readings that trigger the choreography. At the time of creation, Lia turned to texts that were somehow connected to Brazil's origins, such as Manifesto Antropófago (The Anthropophagic Manifesto), by Oswald de Andrade, as mentioned above, but also Tristes Tropiques, by Claude Lévi-Strauss, a milestone in ethnographic studies, in which the Belgian anthropologist recounts his encounters in the 1930s with Brazilian indigenous nations. Lia also read interviews with anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, an author who would reappear in the intellectual foundation of her next work, Para que o céu não caia. One fact that I consider relevant to better understand the choreographer’s readings is the fact that she graduated in History at the University of São Paulo in the 1970s with the intention of studying anthropology. However, shortly before graduating, involved in the student movement and already dancing professionally, she left the university without finishing the course.

Pindorama is the land of palm trees, but that was how some ethnic groups called Brazil before the arrival of the Portuguese. I kept thinking a lot about what a place would be, the Brazil far away, a dreamed place, without construction, as if we took an image of Brazil without any construction, a dreamed place. I dreamed about Pindorama back then and there in front, and I think it makes an arc in my mind, an arc of the past with the future. It is a kind of imaginary place, a utopian place where these beings gasp21 21 Statement by Lia Rodrigues, in March 2014, in Centro de Artes da Maré. .

The falling sky

The readings that supported the creation of Pindorama to a certain extent invaded the following work, also guided by the devouring of anthropological thoughts. In interviews since the premiere of Para que o céu não caia (For the sky not to fall)22, in 2016, Lia Rodrigues repeated that two books served as the basis for the work’s conception: La chute du ciel - Paroles d’un chaman Yanomami (The falling sky - Words of a Yanomani shaman), by Davi Kopenawa and Bruce Albert - which she read in the original version, in French, before the Portuguese edition, released in 2015 - and Há mundo por vir? - Ensaio sobre os medos e os afins (Is there a world to come? - An essay on fears and the like), by Deborah Danowski and Viveiros de Castro, who use the book by the duo Kopenawa-Albert as one of the references for their study. She explained the relationship between the two books:

Para que o céu não caia is not a transposition of the book to the stage. For a long time I have been reading Eduardo Viveiros de Castro's articles and interviews. [...] These books and writings were the starting point for us to develop this piece, a collective creation with the 10 dancer artists [...]. We live in frightening, sad, and disturbing times. To make a new creation requires an inclination toward hope, especially in Maré - this place where the residents’ civil rights are disrespected. [...] It has taken nine months of work at the Maré Arts Center and we ask ourselves: in the face of so many catastrophes and barbarities that haunt us and silence us every day, in this context of drastic climate changes that darken the future, what is left for us to do? How can we imagine ways to continue and act? What can each of us do to, in our own way, hold up the sky? (Veras, 2017VERAS, Luciana. O ato artístico não se limita à criação de uma obra. In: Continente, v. 1 jun. 2017. Disponível em: < https://www.revistacontinente.com.br/edicoes/198/ro-ato-artistico-nao-se-limita-a-criacao-de-uma-obrar Acesso em: 24 jun. 2020.
https://www.revistacontinente.com.br/edi...
).

And faced with such complex questions, Lia and the dancers consulted the Amerindian cosmogony. Once again, another way of outrar-se (othering oneself). Yanomami spokesperson23 23 “In Brazil, the Yanomami territory, ratified in 1992 under the name Yanomami Indigenous Land, extends over 96,650 square kilometers in the extreme north of the Amazon, along the Venezuelan border. It has a population of approximately 21,600 people, divided into just under 260 local groups” (Kopenawa; Albert, 2015, p.44). , leader of the people and respected shaman, Kopenawa relied on the mediation of his French friend and anthropologist Bruce Albert to compose The falling sky. The final text, written by Albert, was based on manuscripts of talks, narratives and conversations he had with Kopenawa between 1989 and the early 2000s. The book is born from the shaman’s desire to spread his words to the world, to be heard after centuries and centuries of his people being silenced. We learn from Kopenawa that the shamans are the beings capable of holding up the earth’s dome. For the beings from the forest, the sky already fell on the ancients, long ago, and so they fear that history will repeat itself if nature continues to be disrespected.

It is this mythology that Danowski and Viveiros de Castro delve into in Há mundo por vir? - Ensaios sobre medos e os fins. The authors make an inventory of the alarming state we live in, of the end-of-time sensation that grips everyone, which takes shape and intensity in the steps of the dancers in Lia Rodrigues’ company. The authors show that since the 1990s, following the scientific consensus about the transformations of the planet’s thermodynamic regime, the end of times has gained real contours. We may be living in a time called the Anthropocene:

[...] it is an epoch, in the geological sense of the term, but it points to the end of “epochality” as such, as far as the species is concerned. Although it began with us, it will most likely end without us: the Anthropocene is not expected to give way to another geological epoch until long after we have disappeared from the face of the Earth. Our present is the Anthropocene; this is our time. But this present time is turning out to be a present without a future, a passive present, bearer of a geophysical karma that is entirely beyond our reach - which makes the task of its mitigation all the more urgent and imperative (Danowski; Castro, 2015CASTRO, Eduardo Viveiros de e DANOWSKI, Deborah. Há mundo por vir? - Ensaio sobre os medos e os fins. Florianópolis: Cultura e Barbárie Editora, 2015., p.16).

The authors are fiercely critical of the world system, such as Kopenawa in his book, when he calls white men commodity people, showing the inordinate importance that the West attaches to material goods. The crisis linked to the end of the world would thus also be a crisis in the way of life created by neoliberalism. Danowski and Viveiros de Castro (2015CASTRO, Eduardo Viveiros de e DANOWSKI, Deborah. Há mundo por vir? - Ensaio sobre os medos e os fins. Florianópolis: Cultura e Barbárie Editora, 2015., p.103) recall that Amerindian mythologies take periodic apocalypses for granted. Quoting Kopenawa and Albert, the authors (Kopenawa; Albert, 2015KOPENAWA, Davi; ALBERT, Bruce. A queda do céu - Palavras de um xamã yanomani. São Paulo: Editora Companhia das Letras, 2015., p.104) say that the Yanomami associate mining activities in their Amazonian territories with the weakening and rotting of the earth’s layer and the release of pathogenic effluvium that spread diseases and biological extinction. And they issue a warning that, in 2021, seems extremely prophetic:

They [the Yanomami] understand that the ignorance of the Whites (nicknamed the giant armadillos or monstrous peccaries because of their incessant digging and earth-moving activity) regarding the agency of the spirits and shamans who sustain the cosmological status quo has already begun to unleash a supernatural vengeance, which has caused droughts and floods in various parts of the planet. Soon, with the death of the last Yanomami shamans, the evil spirits will take over the cosmos, the sky will collapse and we will all be annihilated. Kopenawa still admits that it is possible that, in a long time, another humanity will appear, but the current “White people who eat the earth” will disappear along with the indigenous people. (Danowski; Castro 2015CASTRO, Eduardo Viveiros de e DANOWSKI, Deborah. Há mundo por vir? - Ensaio sobre os medos e os fins. Florianópolis: Cultura e Barbárie Editora, 2015., p.104).

Kopenawa’s call to bodies, that is, his attempt to shake the Western world with words of shock, sets the visceral tone of the dance in Para que o céu não caia. It is a transcendent dance that seems to take us on a journey of sensations experienced by Kopenawa during his initiation as a shaman. Under the influence of yãkoana powder, a hallucinogenic substance made from tree bark, blown by his father-in-law, he falls asleep and begins a journey into the teachings of the forest, into the hidden fundamentals of the world. This initiation is narrated in detail, set to the splendid dances and beautiful songs of the ancestral people, the Xapiri spirits, who live in symbiosis with the forest.

Even though this is a transcription of the book into dance, it is impressive how the images evoked by the shaman in his account appear in different ways in Para que o céu não caia. There are scenes such as the dancers’ ritual of delicately blowing coffee powder and flour in their own faces or their bodies filled with red paint, images that deeply mark the visuality of the work. The book goes like this:

If you want, show me your nostrils so that I can give you the xapiri breath of life. I will turn you into a spirit for real! [...] Then he began to blow large quantities of powder into each of my nostrils, with a horoma palm wood tube. He blew hard, and repeated several times (Kopenawa; Albert, 2015KOPENAWA, Davi; ALBERT, Bruce. A queda do céu - Palavras de um xamã yanomani. São Paulo: Editora Companhia das Letras, 2015., p.134135).

Another part that finds great parallel in what is seen in the scene from Para que o céu não caia and Kopenawa’s account is certainly the one concerning the Xapiri dances, which has a deep connection with the most visceral choreographic moment of the work:

They move forward and backward slowly, neatly aligned, tapping their feet on the ground in rhythm. They are magnificent! Then the male spirits come out and dance in turn, going around in a big circle with jubilant cries. The xapiri are great dancers, and great fun. [... But for all its beauty, the xapiri's dance of introduction is also terrifying (Kopenawa; Albert, 2015KOPENAWA, Davi; ALBERT, Bruce. A queda do céu - Palavras de um xamã yanomani. São Paulo: Editora Companhia das Letras, 2015., p.151-152).

Para que o céu não caia is a work in which the audience is welcomed with the dance already in progress. Upon entering the performance space, a dancer is scattering coffee powder on the edges of the stage, sharpening the sense of smell of those who are arriving. With no fixed place or chairs to sit on, the spectators are free to move around as and where they wish, while ten naked dancers occupy the background of the stage, side by side, taking off all their clothes and sprinkling coffee powder all over their bodies. Choreographically, they blow the black powder into their hands, which sticks to their faces like a mask.

Smeared with coffee, the dancers slowly move toward the audience to look each of them in the eye, creating a clear connection. From there, new encounters take place as the performers take on other masks, other colors, and other powders, such as the white of the flour, which is also glued to their increasingly sweat-soaked bodies. At a certain point, they put old cloths over their faces and start crawling on the ground, like animals far from their flocks or men and women thrown onto the streets when they lack a roof over their heads. The performers emit sounds, grunts, and strange noises, which once again move the spectators out of their comfort zone.

Then, already covered with red paint on parts of their bodies, the performers gather in the center of the stage and present an intense dance, marked by the sound of their feet hitting hard on the wooden floor, in a constant rhythm, while they emit various sounds with their mouths. There, the union is synonymous with power, even when one of the dancers steps aside to perform his solo. They form a circle, stand in a line, always side by side. It is a dance in which the collective shows its absurd strength. It is a call for resistance and survival in a world where it is more and more difficult to live, a sky on the ground that ends up shining with the effects of turmeric powder on the wooden stage. With its overflowing power, Para que o céu não caia is a strong artistic experience, a powerful way for bodies to affect and be affected on and off the stage.

In the text A literatura como antropologia speculative (Literature as speculative anthropology), the literary theory professor Alexandre Nodari (2015)NODARI, Alexandre Andre. A literatura como antropologia especulativa. In: Revista da Anpoll, [s. l.], v. 1, n. 38, p. 75-85, 2015. Disponível em: https://revistadaanpoll.emnuvens.com.br/revista/article/view/836 Acesso em: 30 abr. 2021.
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introduces the act of reading science and philosophy as an attempt to provide consistency, understand or sustain our world, while at the same time, in a different way, he states that we also use literature and political manifestos precisely to see that the world is not really consistent, because it is contingent (in the sense of uncertain), which is why we are able to transform it. Nodari assumes that literature only becomes a real experience when there is a meeting of the two possible dimensions, an intersection: “[...] to make the world consist and also to ‘deconsist’ it, giving consistency to other discovered worlds” (p.78). Reading is thus an ethical-political-ecological practice. “It is not reduced to the reading of written texts, that is, to reading in the strict sense but constitutes an experience [author’s italics] of contact with the world and its different intensities”. Following an ethical-political-ecological practice, Lia Rodrigues teaches us, with her dance and her actions nourished by literature, philosophy and anthropology, that there are new possible worlds, with new designs of our bodies and roles in life. Dreamable worlds on and off the stage, capable of building new sensitive bodies. And this is a lot.

Notes

  • 1
    This paper is the result of my doctoral thesis. See Pavlova, 2021PAVLOVA, Adriana. Em Fúria na Maré. Do diverso ao singular e vice-versa: arquivos que compõem a obra de Lia Rodrigues. 2021. Tese de Doutorado, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Literatura, Cultura e Contemporaneidade, Departamento de Letras, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro, 2021, 247p. Disponível em: https://www.maxwell.vrac.pucrio.br/54515/54515.PDF
    https://www.maxwell.vrac.pucrio.br/54515...
    .
  • 2
    In 2021, the Lia Rodrigues Dance Company (http://www.liarodrigues.com) completes 31 years of existence. The last 17 years were spent in the Favela Complex of Maré, in the periphery zone of Rio de Janeiro, where the group moved to a residence in 2004 and, since then, they have created all their work there, helping to found the Centro de Artes da Maré (2009) and the Escola Livre de Dança da Maré (2011), both the result of a partnership with Redes de Desenvolvimento da Maré (https://www.redesdamare.org.br/).
  • 3
    Historically, the company’s creations are conceived over a period of at least six months but, in certain cases, they took approximately nine months including design and rehearsals.
  • 4
    Face-to-face interview with the author, held on October 27, 2015, in the Centro de Artes da Maré, Rio de Janeiro.
  • 5
    “Maré is a set of 16 favelas where 140,000 people reside, spread out over the strip that goes from Caju to Ramos, via Avenida Brasil, the avenue that links downtown to the periphery areas of Rio de Janeiro’s Zona Oeste” (Silva, 2012SILVA, Eliana Sousa. Testemunhos da Maré. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Aeroplano, 2012., p. 61).
  • 6
    “In the relation between literature and dance, the libretto occupies an important space since in ballet it ensures comprehension of the narrative. In the theater, the spectator receives a program containing credits for the dancers, musicians and choreographer, but also the narrative of the story. As such, it is possible to read the synopsis in a few minutes before seeing it on the stage, translated into dance and pantomime” (Pereira, 2003PEREIRA, Roberto. Giselle, o voo traduzido: da lenda ao balé. Rio de Janeiro: UniverCidade, 2003., p. 117-118).
  • 7
    “...l’écrivain était un faiseur de livrets, un inventeur d’arguments dans lesquels l’écriture choréphaphique ne retenait, mimétiquement, que la trame narrative.”
  • 8
    Livros que amei (Books that I loved). TV Programme, episode 8, Canal Futura. Direction Suzana Macedo. Rio de Janeiro, 22 May. 2012LIVROS que amei. Programa de televisão, episódio 8, Canal Futura. Direção Suzana Macedo. Rio de Janeiro, 22 mai. 2012. (27m25s). Disponível em: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTAJArWfd0E Primeiro acesso: 21 set. 2016.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTAJArWf...
    . (27m 25s).
  • 9
    See Pavlova, 2015PAVLOVA, Adriana. Dança e Política: Movimentos da Lia Rodrigues Companhia de Danças na Maré. 2015. Dissertação, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Artes da Cena, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, 2015. Disponível em: https://www.ppgac-ecoufrj.com.br/uploads/f/s/disserta-adriana-plavova-compressed_A1qL.pdf
    https://www.ppgac-ecoufrj.com.br/uploads...
    .
  • 10
    The group that met weekly to read and study together was founded in 1998 by the critics Silvia Soter, Roberto Pereira, Beatriz Cerbino, the choreographer and researcher Dani Lima, and Lia Rodrigues. The meetings went on until 2006, including other members, among them the author of the article.
  • 11
    Decartes’ Error, from the Portuguese neuroscientist António Damásio; Darwin’s Dangerous Idea by the American philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett; River Out of Eden, from British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins; and the doctoral thesis by professor and critic Helena Katz, Um, dois, três: a dança é o pensamento do corpo, are some of the books that were cited as the most noteworthy by members of the Dance Studies Group.
  • 12
    Available at: http://www.liarodrigues.com/page2/styled-8/styled-19/index.php Accessed on October 11, 2020.
  • 13
    A short clip of this work is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ6SY0Ug4H0
  • 14
    This video, produced by the 2010 Panorama festival about Pororoca, contains scenes from the work as well as Lia Rodrigues talking about the creation process. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMmFvCXdx3g15 15 Entrevista feita pela autora, por telefone, em 9 out. 2015. Interview with the author, by telephone, on October 9, 2015.
  • 16
    Livros que amei. TV Programme, episode 8, Canal Futura.
  • 17
    Scenes from Piracema are contained in this short video. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ77JOXOA64
  • 18
    Interview with the author, by telephone, on October 9, 2015.
  • 19
    Public statement by Lia Rodrigues, in March 2014, in Centro de Artes da Maré.
  • 20
    Excerpts from the work available on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLHlme_5cZ0
  • 21
    Statement by Lia Rodrigues, in March 2014, in Centro de Artes da Maré.
  • 22
    Excerpts from the work available on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QI16RIJV6Qg
  • 23
    “In Brazil, the Yanomami territory, ratified in 1992 under the name Yanomami Indigenous Land, extends over 96,650 square kilometers in the extreme north of the Amazon, along the Venezuelan border. It has a population of approximately 21,600 people, divided into just under 260 local groups” (Kopenawa; Albert, 2015KOPENAWA, Davi; ALBERT, Bruce. A queda do céu - Palavras de um xamã yanomani. São Paulo: Editora Companhia das Letras, 2015., p.44).

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    15 Dec 2021
  • Date of issue
    2022

History

  • Received
    30 Apr 2021
  • Accepted
    11 Aug 2021
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