The street as a dancing stage in Lima

February 2008 -

Pavement tiles as dance floor, tap dancing in stairwells, a blue Volkswagen Beetle that is spontaneously drawn into a break-dance act. Anything on the street can be a stage; the passers-by are the audience.

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Photo: Guillermo Figueroa - El Comercio

Twelve dancers from Latin America used the street Aycucho in a Lima suburb as their practice stage for two weeks in January 2008. Under direction of Khosro Adibi (Iran/Belgium) and in cooperation with Danza Tupac, the event was part of the International Performance Lab project.

"Artists often get trapped in the routine of their own practice space, where they can create an artistic world of their own. In the public space, coincidence plays a much more important part, and the artistic possibilities are unlimited. The performance in Aycucho with live audience was therefore entirely different than it was in the rehearsal period", says Adibi.

The group of dancers then moved on to the slums of Villa el Salvador and Comas, where they gave performances in two cultural-social centres and improvised on the streets. Although the youth in the audience appeared to be simply waiting to use their football field again, they ended up being the most enthusiastic of all. Two of the dancers, Fabio and Paolo, grew up under similar circumstances in Brazil. Their break-dance and tap-dance acts were extremely popular. After the performance, they gave spontaneous dancing lessons to the children present.

Adibi: "Beauty takes on a different meaning in a rougher social context. Your artistic creations become more spontaneous and less abstract. As Dutch photographer Ed van der Elsken always said about his street subjects: they are real people. We felt the same thing emotionally, and it feels entirely different from when I am creating art from a strictly aesthetic perspective."

The workshop in Lima is funded by the Prince Claus Fund.