Vancouver Sun

DANCE MEETS IM­PROV IN NEW AGUIRRE SHOW

Bro­ken Tail­bone brings pol­i­tics and his­tory onto the floor as well

- Entertainment · Social Interaction · Dance · Arts · Toronto · Vancouver · Chile · Augusto Pinochet · Colombia · Los Angeles

Car­men Aguirre’s lat­est show is built around a dance les­son. In col­lab­o­ra­tion with Toronto dra­maturge com­pany Nightswim­ming, the Van­cou­ver-based writer/per­former takes au­di­ences on a hip­sway­ing jour­ney that in­cludes his­tor­i­cal con­text, geopo­lit­i­cal lessons, per­sonal anec­dotes (in­clud­ing an NSFW story in­volv­ing the ti­tle in­jury) and dance moves. Post­media News talked to Aguirre about the show. Q: Did you have to do any re­search for Bro­ken Tail­bone? A: I know all of this be­cause I’ve been danc­ing salsa since I was a kid. My par­ents were the ones who started the first Lat­inx (a non-gen­der-spe­cific term in­stead of Latino or Latina) dance hall in 1974. So it’s part of my life ba­si­cally. Dur­ing the ’70s, ev­ery month there would be a Lat­inx dance there to raise funds for po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers and dis­ap­peared peo­ple in Chile un­der the Pinochet dic­ta­tor­ship. We would play cumbia, a type of dance from Colom­bia, and af­ter speeches and doc­u­men­taries it would turn into an ac­tual dance hall even though we weren’t call­ing it that at the time. Q: So there’s no script, but story points that you hit on in each show? A: Ba­si­cally we know ex­actly what we want to hit with ev­ery song. The part that’s im­prov is that I’m ac­tu­ally teach­ing a dance les­son. I use the au­di­ence as much as I can. I’m go­ing into the au­di­ence and in­ter­act­ing with them. So de­pend­ing on what they do, what they say, how they in­ter­act with me, that is all im­pro­vised. Q: You’ve taken this show to Los An­ge­les. What was that like? A: The au­di­ence was com­pletely dif­fer­ent than the au­di­ence we’ll have in Canada. There’s a lot of po­lit­i­cal con­tent in the show. My work is un­abashedly left wing. Some­times in the au­di­ence there were, for ex­am­ple, Cuban-Amer­i­cans who had a prob­lem with my po­lit­i­cal opin­ion. Be­cause the au­di­ence can talk to me, they would talk back. They would ques­tion what I was say­ing. It was ex­cit­ing. As a per­former, it keeps you on your toes. Q: Have you been sur­prised or im­pressed by the au­di­ence’s abil­ity to learn these steps? A: It’s al­ways very mov­ing to me when peo­ple are will­ing to make them­selves vul­ner­a­ble. Most peo­ple don’t know how to do these dances and they’re will­ing to stand there on the dance floor and go for it and risk per­haps look­ing silly. Au­di­ences are will­ing to go wher­ever you lead them if they feel safe. Peo­ple who have come and who had promised them­selves they weren’t go­ing to dance, they danced. The feed­back we’ve got­ten has been that it’s very dif­fer­ent to lis­ten to sto­ries when you are ac­tu­ally stand­ing there and mov­ing your body. You take in the story in a very dif­fer­ent way than if you were sit­ting in an au­di­ence and just lis­ten­ing to some­one. Q: Had you ever taught salsa be­fore this? A: No. But I’m an ac­tor. Lots of ac­tor train­ing is move­ment based. You are the in­stru­ment, your body is the in­stru­ment to tell a story. I know how to teach be­cause I taught act­ing for many years. So it’s not that I don’t know how to im­part in­for­ma­tion and teach peo­ple some­thing, I do have that skill.

 ??  ?? Van­cou­ver writer and per­former Car­men Aguirre ditches a script for story points and dance lessons in Bro­ken Tail­bone, her col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Toronto-based Nightswim­ming dra­maturge com­pany.
Van­cou­ver writer and per­former Car­men Aguirre ditches a script for story points and dance lessons in Bro­ken Tail­bone, her col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Toronto-based Nightswim­ming dra­maturge com­pany.

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