a performing and teaching company

Into The Streets


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On Sunday, April 6, 2014, at noon New York time, moderator Scott Barton (bio below) spoke with choreographer/director Daniel Gwirtzman and two dancers from the Into The Streets cast, live from Brazil. This is the transcript from the chat.

Scott Alves Barton (SAB): Bom dia a todos. Good day to all.

Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company (DGDC): Welcome everyone to the Live Chat. Welcome Scott!

SAB: Thanks. Good afternoon.

Daniel Gwirtzman: Hi Scott, a beautiful afternoon here in New York!

Joana Laranjeira (JL): Hello.

SAB: Yes, it is…though I am sure it is even sweeter in Bahia.

DG: Joana, hello! How great to “meet’ you again here in virtual space!

SAB: Oi Joana, eu sou Scott. Voce vai ser a traductora?

JL: Me too.

Leonardo Muniz: Hello.

JL: You will have only to excuse my orthography faults.

DG: Hello Leonardo! How great to meet you again too!

SAB: Ok, now that we are all here, let’s get started. Hello everyone. At this point, I think all or most of you have seen the film. Can the dancers speak about their reactions to seeing the film after having danced together? Leonardo, do you want to begin?

DGDC: A reminder that everyone needs to refresh the page regularly to see the latest comments!

JL: I can start if you want.

SAB: Yes, please go ahead.

JL: Ok…..first of all, I’m very happy to refresh my memory with this video. We had such a good time together.

SAB: Please share.

JL: That’s how I love to dance…with joy. And with this proposal that happened.

SAB: How did you feel that the work made you feel as an individual and as part of a group?

LM: Is wonderful when we see such an interesting finishing work!

SAB: Daniel, your work makes me feel the joy of dance, the joy of life/living….that seems apparent in this piece.

JL: As an individual I think is what I said, made me do my dance with joy.

SAB: Did you create it with the other dancers simply to reflect on our shared life experience….or did you have another idea or agenda? Maybe cross cultural???

JL: In terms of the group I think we could share this all. I’m not from Salvador. I’m Portuguese, studying here, and I felt as a part of this group of Brazilian dancers.

SAB: Leonardo, I agree it is great to see it finished….YET you personally help create the ‘finished’ work. how does that feel to see it from your perspective.

JL: And that was Daniel’s work.

DG: There was certainly a lot of joy for me in being in Bahia and meeting these wonderful, warm dancers. Dance to me is a metaphor for what is possible, at the least, the possibility to experience great joy. We want to radiate that to our audiences, viewers, so everyone can share in this.

SAB:  Ok.  So Joana, you see the creation of community as a key contribution of Daniel’s….is that true? I am hearing two sides of “WHAT is possible”. First Joana seems to say that you Daniel saw the possibilities of creating a dance and a community through the dance. Does anyone want to speak on this?

DG: Joana I think you can speak to this more than me, as you have spent more time living in Bahia, but the community embraces those from other places so fully. You were very integrated with the Brazilian community. Of course the connection between Portugal and Brazil is very interesting and intertwined.

SAB: ….and two, Daniel, you reflect on the metaphor of experiencing joy…and what I see in the movement are moves that begin with normal everyday human movement is space and when POSSIBLE become more complex and abstract. I agree with Daniel, that Bahia, Brazil and Brazilians embrace humanity.

LM: Scott, I feel very happy to share this work!

DG: The dance was definitely about bringing the different cultures together, but more than that, was this idea of taking to the streets to reclaim them as a place of empowerment, pride, solidarity, community. The backdrop for our project was the protests that were also occurring in the streets at the exact same time.

SAB: I see the work a stone skimming over a lake…the ripples keep expanding. In Salvador, and NY….and then with it online they ripple globally!

JL: Well what I was saying is that Daniel’s proposal matched so well because in first place…..Salvador….is very joyful!

SAB: OK-Daniel. This could be a good thread. We all were in Brazil in 2013, during the demonstrations that began in the South. To the dancers, Did this dance help you to feel empowered in that period???

JL: And that matches with the movements and music that he proposed even if as nothing to do apparently with Brazil.

SAB: The music fascinated me.

JL: And that’s why I think we all embraced so well the work.

SAB: As most of you know, the music was West African, created by Fela! an iconic and revolutionary musician. As a Nigerian, he ties into the historical culture of slaves who were imported from Nigeria and West Africa to Brazil. Was that important to hear for you as a dancer….or for anyone who happened to view the video?

JL: I don’t know if he thought about it when he proposed this idea……but definitely it became a key connection.

SAB: Ok. How does it feel to you now?

DG: The dance was an opportunity for us to create a new community, a dance community, the connection of sharing movement and the possibilities inherent in that. Or perhaps I should say to expand that community, for the dance community already exists in Salvador. But it was also about taking this into the public sphere, to say not only, we are here, but we are here living life fully, openly.

JL: Uau!!! I´m really impressed by this moment!

DG: Joana, Salvador is joyful and also it was the scene of violence during this time. And of course it is also a scene of terrific social ills, crime, drugs, poverty, etc…all the time.

SAB: TAKING IT TO THE STREETS, is an anthem for many cultures wanting change. I found this part fascinating. See Salvador get occupied by dancers and their spirit.

JL: It’s absolutely my fault but I didn’t know about that.

DG: The music, Fela Kuti’s Zombie, is infectious and definitely fueled the project. The Africa-Brazil connection is unavoidable in Bahia.

DGDC: To anyone just joining us, welcome to our chat. Please feel free to ask questions of the creative team or post a comment about your reaction to watching Into The Streets.

JL: Absolutely

SAB: When you say violence, I remember that I saw it, I marched in demonstrations, my life was affected by it, and yet…i tried on a daily basis to just cope. This dance makes me reflect on the life we have and the life we can create for ourselves. Around the same time you and the dancers were making this beautiful visual physical statement, my friend Flávio Lopes, made and released a film, http://cadernodecinema.com.br/blog/breviario-do-horror/ discussing the violence from another perspective. More graphic and less joyful. How does anyone feel we can make change or make a ‘conversation’ to address these ideas?

JL: A lot of things are coming to my mind. And it’s a little difficult to share it.

SAB:  Ok. please take a moment to breathe, relax and think about what can be shared. On a simpler theme, I was captivated by the opening with the simple, yet profound movement of people”s fists in the air. Did anyone else have a reaction [positive or negative] to that section?

DG: This was not a militant protest, on our part, but rather a peaceful one. Can we make a difference by simply promoting warmth? There was a party atmosphere to some of the demonstrations (others were horribly violent). Coping is hard for many people, everywhere, especially in a place like Salvador.

SAB: Daniel, I felt that your opening was, can I say a ‘velvet fist’…It had a militancy, yet was not violent. It suggested—LET’s Bring everyone together. Did anyone feel that too?

DG: The velvet fist is a great image.

JL: I really didn’t make that connection.

DG: It was starting with this most basic, universal gesture, the fist, the upraised arm. Then through the repetition, the rhythmic shading, the stylization of the movement, to allow it to enter a place of abstraction.

SAB:  Thanks. That to me is the core strength of the work. I believe that you want to address change/the challenges of life as we know it there, but you are not breaking glass and tearing things down. …but trying to think of new constructions.

DG: Yes, this was intentional. That this is where all change comes from. Even before making a sound, we can make a change through action. If mute, we still have our bodies, the power of our limbs, the overcoming of gravity to shoot up, away from the earth.

SAB: Yes. That is key for me, Daniel. The UNIVERSALITY of this piece; it bubbles up through the earth, through our bodies and our spirit.

JL: If that was the idea….it matches exactly with what I felt as a dancer.

SAB: That each segment begins with motions, movements that anyone can do..is key.Then it builds, and builds and becomes more intricate… a little moving jewel.

DG: It was intended to be a dance for the “people”. Training was not necessary, that is to say, dance training, virtuosity, learned behavior. Certainly we see some of that in the piece, but the aim is more fundamental. How restricted are we in our lives most of the time, where is the permission to be more free? To vulnerably let one’s body do all of the talking and enjoy that mode of expression.

SAB: Uau. I love that. Where is the ‘permission to be free’. A HUGE question.

JL: That’s what I understood I that was what made me the idea so much. And in the end….when I visualize the video…that’s what I see.

SAB: Leonardo, how do you feel about all of this?

JL: And what I’m learning about the dance of the slavery period.

SAB: Joana, can you elaborate?

JL: The slaves produced such a good dance material.

SAB: Nana or Paloma, are either of you on now..? Do you have any thoughts on these themes?

JL: And a lot of it was in joyful situations even if they were in that suffering condition.

DG: Dancing in the streets, even in an innocuous fashion, in most of our civilizations today, then can be seen as a political act, a reclamation of other values. To say, yes, we have all of these preoccupations, needs, drives, concerns, but at the end of the day, how do we function as a physical being, in relation to ourselves and those living with us?

JL: One of the things that passed through my mind was that without having consciousness of it.

DG: Yes Joana, I think that is a powerful idea, the strength of the body to express joy amid hardships.

SAB: Yes Joana, that contradiction–bringing joy and life where there is poverty and suffering is amazingly powerful!!

JL: We were repeating this behavior that was done so many years ago.

SAB: You mentioned slave dances, Joana. I saw a few of the duets as having a reference to West African dance, Brazilian Capoeria and Modern Western dance at the same time…..

DG: This definitely is the overall feeling one has visiting/living in Bahia, the richness of the people, the generosity of spirit in contradiction to the economic and other realities on the ground.

SAB:  Reading these threads it sounds as though the dance instills the idea of ‘sobrevivencia’ which I will translate as overcoming what is in front of you for a greater goal…Anyone want to comment here?

JL: When I compare that with Portuguese way of dealing with suffer, for example in this moment of crises in Portugal, I always say that Brazilians have this incredible way of dealing with problems. They always say. Today is today. lets be happy, tomorrow will come, but it’s future…..

SAB: Life on the ground-life of the mind-life of the spirit…all in each of our consciousness and in our bodies…………

DG: The choreographic references to different dance cultures is there, but subtle. It was more to embrace contemporary dance as a viable language to be spoken by the masses, or a wish to see this vision take root, the idea that that movement can spread too, bringing a more rarified form into the streets of the everyday.

DGDC: Dance Company As always, our chats go by quickly. Final comments from everyone in these last few minutes will be welcome!

SAB: Yes Joana. I see it as ongoing. Particularly right now having had a year of demonstrations, that create powerful statements this dance piece…and now the ongoing unrest mixed with the Copa and the 40th anniversary of the ditadura. Powerful, powerful ideas and emotions

DG: Can you define ditadura for those that may not understand?

SAB: Those subtle references makes it that much more profound.

JL: I just want to thank you so much for this opportunity.

LM: for me it was a form of protest with art, with a strong theme of a more simple form.sorry for the slow response.

JL: Thank you Daniel for making me a possible part of the process. And for the wonderfull work that you do and share with all of us.

SAB: SURE. The ditadura or military dictatorship that overthrew the Brazilian government in 1964 and ruled the country for 2 years, subjugating the citizens, imprisoning people and torturing people often for little to no reason. Authoritative control of all actions of the citizenry of the nation….and unfortunately in collusion and with help from the USA [EUA].

SAB: Thanks Leonardo. Do you have any other thoughts to share?

DG: To Joana and Leo, and all of the other dancers involved in the project, ultimately this was a dance about love. It was a way to share our love for dance and for dancers, and to express the excitement of cultures clashing to produce something unexpected. I will always hold terrific memories of our times together in the streets and the satisfaction of the dance!

SAB: Before we close, do any of the dancers see the spirit of the piece or the community that the dance created as still being present in their lives..or providing a means to continue to discuss change…and joy?

LM: Thank you and Daniel for this moment. And only…

DG: Hopefully Scott, the spirit of the piece will animate others to discuss this possibility of change, at the least, to promote the possibility always of joy.

JL: Of course that my answer to that is YES, Scott!!!

SAB: Love is necessary…it is a great way to bring people together and start a conversation. For my part, I hope that this conversation and the conversation that you initiated as dancers/choreographer, in Daniel’s case continues…builds and resonates.

DGDC: Thank you all who have joined and followed our chat today!

SAB: one of my hopes and thoughts is to work to make this piece go viral as we reflect on the changing same in Brazil, in the Ukraine in many, many places on the globe. I would ask all of us to do some homework and share the video in all of the networks we live through, personally and professionally. Start a discussion, a chat….AND DANCE out our/your feelings. I am humbly honored to have been asked to participate in this conversation. We need to keep talking. I am reminded of the conversations begun in Rwanda between perpetrator and victim to create a better means to live together. This dance has that potential if we live it…and LOVE it/love each other

Scott Alves Barton, is a chef, culinary consultant and doctoral candidate at New York University. His cooking and his research relates to the African and African Diaspora contributions to the cookery of the Americas. His current research looks at the relationship between sacred and secular Afro-Brazilian food in northeastern Brazil. We are most excited to have Scott moderating the chat.  Scott is a former Fellow of the Sacatar Foundation, the foundation which has also given fellowships to Daniel Gwirtzman, resulting in this body of Brazilian films.