21:00 – 21:30
In her practice, Guatemalan artist Maya Saravia explores syncretic traditions in culture and religion that arose at the junction of colonialism and the popular culture and indigenous beliefs it suppressed. The main instrument of her artistic research is dance and movement. Preceding by far any form of written language, dance responds to kinesthetic and spiritual needs, tied to the movement of nature, and as an expression of the natural being itself.
The historical processes which have determined the formation of a dance tradition in Guatemala begin in Mayan culture, where a ritual dance was associated with a religious ceremony; dancers had to observe periods of continence and fasting before performing. After the colonization by the Spanish empire, popular dance remained linked to church festivities. Fire, incense, wax, flowers, liquor, masks and costumes, musical instruments and the human voice are materials that constitute the essence of its ancestral roots, and a testimony of the accumulation of cultural devices that have come to shape popular culture.
Toritos are a street game/dance that functions as tributes within the Catholic tradition but also in other syncretic practices pertaining to healing and magic. The tradition of the Torito began in the XVII Century in Guatemala, as part of the Spanish program of colonization. The gunpowder that provided great advantage to the Spaniards, now became a weapon of the affective order. They introduced the Chinese tradition of pyrotechnics and linked it with Catholic celebrations. As a way of resistance, indigenous populations also developed syncretism by participating in the Catholic rituals to avoid punishment, while preserving their real beliefs underneath the surface.
Saravia is interested in syncretism as a strategy to resist power, and as a way to create empathy and facilitate compositions. The artist's goal is to create a new dance by replacing the main character, the bull, with the swallow (golondrina), a globally known migratory bird that flies great distances from south to north and back each year. Saravia finds a strong connection between this bird and the immigrants that travel great lengths to reach their destination.
For this project the artist generates a composition by creating a score for the Golondrinas with local performers, dancing to a traditional Abkhazian healing song Atlarchopa, which tells the story of a girl who is in pain, so she has to dance at an accelerated pace until she loses her feelings.
Firework specialist: Michael Polyansky
Dancers: Denis Karagodin
Production assistant: Viktoria Tronina