Fernanda Branco — I Dance Til I Cry – Opus Mud: Death of a River

I Dance Til I Cry – Opus Mud: Death of a River

Fernanda Branco

How the personal becomes mobile?

Through my performance I question: how can I take a personal concern and put it out in a way that transcends my private issues and then it can belong to anyone?

I say transcend in a very concrete manner: what is private do not only stay to represent something particularly related to the artist, yet it transcends personal concerns to relate to the other, to yourself, any self, beyond selves.

For me, it is when an artist shares something private and the way he does it, the way he shares it, he opens a communication with the other, he suggests a reflection, symbols, he offers interpretations and relations with the outside.

Somehow, there is a kind of generosity gesture implanted in it. It is about to be aware that a personal issue has a potentiality to cross barriers. To uses Stephen Greenblatt’s word: mobility. What is personal has mobility to cross barriers and touch the other, here now, there in the past, somewhere in the future. We then, must focus in the issue’s ability to mobile.

So, my performance handle on some questions: can I cry about a cold coffee while opening a possibility to reflect on our daily hectically lives, in which everyone is busy and therefor our coffees get cold and forgotten? How come that for someone the fact of not having Internet for a day, for hours, it can be a big catastrophe? How can I relate to the feeling of sorrow I have towards big catastrophes that are splash out in our faces daily? What then if I cry because my coffee is cold? What then if I grief for the lack of Internet? What then if I do it in a way that the audience might laugh?

I am interested in creating performances that open to various readings. The dramaturgy was then created to invite the public to laugh and after offer a deeper sorrow to them. I invite them to open their emotions and then I bring up a deeper issue. I ritualize in order to present to them a bigger sorrow - which in fact - I do not know how to deal with in my daily life. I offer them the possibility to grief for me, for them, for all of us. Or only witness a sorrow.

Here is what one person in the audience said: “personally I felt like I did not realized I was moved until I was, because I was still in a kind of laughter, humor state place and suddenly you realized: oh, I am touched by this. It is a kind of unique thing to accomplish in a piece, I think.“

But then at the same time, I wish not to have a straight read line and therefor I add metaphors, relations with situations and objects that open audience’s imagination to create their own stories. The dramaturgy follows simple lines of text in combination with images that offers various associations. With that the audience is allowed to read different stories. I am always interested in what they see. Usually it is more interesting then what I have thought, or they add interesting counter-points. Here are what some members of the audience said they saw: “a tiny creature in a tiny world”, “an ant coming up from the soil”, “identity and culture”, “the seeds representing what comes as new after a catastrophe, “we as being nature”, “flowers that lost their family members”

… and in the end I have struggled, artistically, to deal with an issue I do not know how to relate to it. How do I make a political statement without being political, or doing a political performance? Someone in the audience said: to be personal is to be political. What are the different layers of being political? Do I need to make a political statement? Do I need to address to the issue what so ever? How to deal then with that first image that inspired me to do this performance? How do I deal with the wish to address to a bigger concern? How then could I talk about: a big environment catastrophe that happened in Brazil in 2015 when a mining dam collapsed and a whole district went under poisoned mud. A 500km river was invaded by 60 million cubic meters of iron waste that found it’s way to the Atlantic sea, killing an enormous amount of ecosystems. People died while others lost everything. The district exists no longer. The river is dead.

…and all that was: i dance till i cry – opus: mud – the death of a river.

(I feel that this performance can be a poetic approach to the temptation of being political).

Pilotprosjekt (2011)