Issue - September 2007

September 2007

In this issue, Amy Pollock reviews the successes of Arnold Brower's school garden project, while Lucy Witter talks with the rector of an English school enrolling impoverished students; we hear form Save the Children about their reconciliation programme after the Cochabamba riots in more...

September 2007

Encuentro de integracion y Danza contemporanea

Lucy Witter visited the ‘Encuentro de Integración y Danza Contemporánea’ in Punata

by: Lucy Witter
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Warrington - United Kigdom

Friday 22 June saw the public demonstration of the work that has been achieved in a bold community project that aimed to introduce dance to the teachers and students of schools in Punata and Villa Rivero, Cochabamba. Atempo Danza of Cochabamba has been holding contemporary dance classes, and the dancers at Atempo as well as the students of these classes put on a performance in the Liceo Josefa Manuela Gandarillas in Punata to show the results of their efforts. It followed the performance in the Centro ARDE in Cochabamba the previous Saturday 16 June of the same dances, with the idea being to demonstrate to both audiences the work that has been achieved.

The project, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, COSUDE, and carried out in conjunction with the Cigarra Education Foundation, aimed to demonstrate the uses of dance in the field of education. The project was conceived and run by dance teachers Ana Cecilia Moreno and Patricia Sejas, both of Atempo Danza, whose boundless energy and enthusiasm made the project a great success. The performance began at 12 and was watched by hundreds of pupils from the Liceo. The dancers, clad in a colourful array of costumes and making use of innovative props, performed several dances to music of their own choosing, giving a new twist to local and national customs and traditions. When the performance finished, the students, teachers and Atempo Dancers shared lunch in Punata, providing a chance for them to reflect on their experiences together.

The project has been running for 3 months. Ana Cecilia has been working with the groups of teachers and students from the schools for three hours per week. Atempo Danza dancers dance for two hours every day. There was a similar project run 2 years ago in Punata, but this one did not involve teachers but only pupils. Ana Cecilia and Patricia Sejas hope that the project can be expanded and taken to all of the educational institutions in the area in the future, but that depends on funding.

Nine dancers from Atempo Danza performed on Friday. Lucia Alem, 19, studying dance to become professional dancer or choreographer who has been dancing since she was 7, prefers contemporary dance for it’s “character”. “It is more expressive than more classical forms of dance, more grounded, it has more force and more energy. With contemporary dance you search for your own movement, whereas classical dance is more technical and rigid, you have to always follow the moves dictated.”

Does dance make a difference for people? “Dance always makes a difference. I’m not sure we can say we are an influence on society but hopefully the project will mean that in the future people will be more interested in dance. Every person that has been involved in the project has had their lives changed in some way.” Lucia dances for 2 hours every day. Meghan Kallman, Canadian working for an environmental charity here in Cochabamba and who dances as a hobby, enjoys the scope for improvisation that contemporary dance provides. “In Bolivia contemporary dance is virtually unheard of, so the context of this project makes it very special. It is still very much only for the elite in Bolivia, so a project like this, trying to open up dance to a wider audience, is inspiring.” The show was held both in Cochabamba and Punata with the idea of performing for both audiences, along the theme of interchange, the results of the project.

Some of the pupils of the Punata and Villa Rivero schools that participated in the dance: Daisy Rocha Montaño (19): For reasons of time or nervousness, numbers fell over the months, but 12 students stayed with the programme. AnaMaria Claros Aparicio (16): Our friends were surprised to see them dance like that, they had not seen anything like it before.

Only two students persevered with the original project, but they wanted to help with this project and teach the new students and keep dancing. Lisette Velasquez Montaño: Parents are supportive, they have not seen us dance but they are impressed. My boyfriend and my little brother liked it and talk about it, so my parents are impressed. Judith Ustaris, the mother of Doris Antezana, one of the Atempo dancers: “The dances were very good. The project was great because it allowed different groups from different places and backgrounds to integrate and unite. Dance and music is a universal means of communication between humans. There has been very little contemporary dance in Bolivia, perhaps a little in the bigger cities like Cochabamba, but now there is more and it is proliferating.

Doris has been dancing for 8 years and started when she was at college. She’s now 27 and she has improved a lot. I was a dancer when I was younger, I loved it, I danced Spanish and contemporary dance, but arthritis stops me from dancing now. I was very happy when Judith decided to take up dancing. I like all forms of dance – of art in general. Contemporary dance is more expressive, for every individual. It is an extension of one’s spirit, it is something we all have internally, contemporary dancing allows us to listen to music and move naturally. For me it is lovely, beautiful. It definitely has the power to change people positively.

A plain of water named Cochabamba
The denseness of its groves, the great variety of birds, which are pleasant to sight and sound, plentiful mountains of cedars, and another kind of wood. This landscape is different to the nearby valley of Clisa which is six leagues southeast from the city (Oropeza)....
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