In principle, their approach is focused on corroborating the existing synergies between music and dance. However, Poéticas en la sombre [‘Poetics in the Shadow’], the new creation by veteran choreographer Manuela Nogales for the Sevillian company carrying her name, is staged as a declaration of principles. Explicitly, the creator has wanted to deploy her piece with a female team to give visibility to not only female creators, artists, dancers, but also to musicians.
With a career spanning more than thirty years to the time she was a pioneer on the Andalusian new dance scene, Nogales can verily speak with authority about the prevailing inequality between sexes in the world of art.
As a result, she has wanted to go beyond the contents, which as always materialize into personal poetics. In an act of attempted vindication, she has surrounded herself with an exclusively female cast to make them more visible. The issues with the evident inequality between men and women are currently a heated debate in society.
Social media have facilitated a tremendous connection between women around the world, which have evolved into global movements such as #metoo. Contemporary dance, which is not always abstract or ignorant of what happens off the stage, has in modest ways known how to tackle these issues and empower women from Africa to Europe.
The African woman is also the focal point in the discourse from the grand project of Ella Poema, led by Aïda Colmenero Dïaz. This Catalan creator with an African heart has given visibility to creators and dancers from the African continent through the African Moment cycle, and from her own choreographic work. Her new creation 2 de noviembre, El quitador de miedos [‘2nd of November, The Fear Remover’], about the fear of childbirth and the fear of death, is a new link in the chain of performances, films, poetry, and further shows rendering form to her project Ella Poema.
The female imagination also goes on a roundtrip between Casablanca and Valladolid in El jardín de las Hespérides [‘The Garden of the Hesperides’], the new creation by Alicia Soto for her company Hojarasca. This company has specifically focused on Moroccan and Castilian woman to conclude what universal problems women face, excluding cultural norms. The play is a celebration of the Valladolid company’s 25 years of operation. It is a multicultural project in which artists from both Spain and Morocco participate.
Contemplating the past to comprehend and improve the present is habitual practice in dance. It is also a resource of great utility when it comes to vindicating women. The dancer and creator Violeta Borruel is well aware of this. She has staged Golondrinas [‘The Swallows’] for her young Madrilenian company after les hirondelles (the swallows), a term applied by the French to the multitude of women from the Spanish Pyrenees who, between the late 19th century and early 20th century, took to the neighbouring country to work in the fabrication of canvas shoes. Little has been written about these unsung heroines who travelled the world to sustain their family economies.
The superbly beautiful play Sonoma also points to the past, although at a less exact time. Created by Marcos Morau for his company La Veronal, this performance filled the prestigious Patio del Palacio de los Papas last summer at the Avignon Festival. Morau is guided by Luis Buñuel and his two worlds, the rural world of Calanda and the surrealistic one of cosmopolitan Paris. In these worlds Morau has created a feminist play of contrast between women trapped under the yokes of religion, customs, or traditions, and the women liberated by the resounding beats of the Calanda drums, struck with vigour from under the mantle of surrealism.
If this creation has the bearings of a cinema performance, the director of La Veronal is closer to his home turf, the theatre, to which he pays homage in his new choreography Opening Night.
In contrast, the Madrilenian dancer and choreographer Milagros Galiano joins past and present in portraying two women, herself and her mother. Her proposal La niña que cayó al pozo [‘The Girl Who Fell into the Well’] came to light as a result of the extensive confinement period due to the coronavirus outbreak. This unfortunate occurrence allowed this former dancer from the Ballet Víctor Ullate time to have lengthy conversations with her mother. From her mother’s incomplete recollection, Milagros Galiano was told unorganized fragments of stories from the past. This conversation made Galiano reflect on the prospect of forming an introspective journey from a dance perspective that would link and juxtapose two generations of women. Her idea turned into a poetic analysis of childhood, the past, her roots, and the essence of memory.
In her creation Artificios y leopardos [‘Trickery and Leopards’] Mercedes Pedroche reinvents the myth of Sisyphus when dealing with the situation of a woman trapped in a life that has become an endless repetitive cycle. In this solo which departs from the propositions of Camus and Nietzsche’s eternal return, she offers a portrayal of a woman as an encaged female leopard. It becomes obsessed with its vulnerability and abject failure fomented by social impositions.
With her eyes firmly fixed on society, the Brazilian creator Cristina Masson, director of her company EnClaveDANZA, has gone back to ancient Mexican mythology in recollection of the tragedy of Coyolxauhqui (La Luna) in her choreography Las diosas del agua [‘The Goddesses of Water’]. The tragedy enables her to talk about a recurring tragedy today where thousands of women are murdered summarily in Mexico. Up to 10 women per day fall victim to crimes of violence, or machismo in present-day Mexican society.
However, some creations are only made possible by excluding the male element altogether. Such is the case of the Brazilian creator Poliana Lima. In her beguilingly abstract play Las cosas se mueven pero no dicen nada [‘Things Move but Don’t Say Anything’], selected this year by the European circuit Aerowaves, she works with a team of powerful dancers to examine their continuity and resistance in the space on stage. These two concepts are in principle spatially and physically related. However, they generate various readings simply due to the fact they are danced by women.
Something similar happens in Shoal, a diptych for dancers thought up by the Israeli creator Dana Raz. She attempts to delve into the inner fabrics of the female soul to free these emotions that give form to identity. Themes related to the soul seem to be the creative detonator for the young creator who, in her work Muktzhe, takes an interest in religions and the impact of faith on current society.