Issue - October 2009

October 2009


In this fiftieth edition, we present Pinami Open Air Museum, researched by Dylan Rudloff & written by Justin Gouin; Petra Vissers' interview with Pirai Vaca; Justin Gouin tells us about Manuela Gandarillas and Tusoco Viajes; a tribute for Martha Estivariz by Ed Young, finally Luis Fernanado Terrazas tells us about Cochabamba's landscapes through Garcilaso de la Vega's more...

October 2009

Forty years of Dance Leadership

A tribute to a true artist

Ed Young
Cochabamba - Bolivia

Once a year, during the September 14th celebrations of the founding of the Cochabamba, the Concejo Municipal honor’s the city’s luminaries with the “Distinction Alejo Calatayud”. The winner of this year’s “Mérito Cultural” is an institution unto herself, a veritable force of nature in the dance world. Fittingly, the site of the ceremony, the Teatro Achá, has been home to many of her greatest triumphs. Say “flamenco” to just about anyone in Cochabamba and chances are, they will look up at you and say two words: “Martha Estivariz.”

But there is so much more to this terpsichorean gem of the Andes, and the 40th anniversary of her dance company, Ballet España, is the perfect time to bring her transcendent artistry to a wider audience. October will bring the Fortieth-Anniversary Gala Performance at the Gran Hotel, and in November her annual Spanish Dance Festival will bring audiences at the Teatro Achá to their feet. Martha’s gracious acceptance speech before Bolivian vice-president Alvaro García (whose sister, Marie Carmen, was a lead dancer for Ballet España in the 1970s) and other gathered dignitaries raised many salient points about the state of dance and culture in general in Cochabamba. “Speaking on behalf of the other winners tonight, and in the years past, let me say how gratified we are that the arts are starting to get the recognition and support from the authorities that they need, that they deserve, and that they did not get in the past,” she said, adding, “We have had to work extra hard raising money for our productions, and whether it is a theatrical play, the work of a solitary poet or writer, or a group of artists showing in a gallery, what we do is the culture of Bolivia, produced by Bolivians, for Bolivians. More importantly, we are Cochabambinas and Cochabambinos, creating art to entertain, inspire, and educate our fellow Cochabambinas and Cochabambinos. We work in Cochabamba, and our work draws Bolivians and tourists to Cochabamba to spend money. All the arts have had so many problems here that it is only right, and long overdue, that the authorities recognize our efforts, and help us in the ways they are starting to do. We are truly grateful, and future generations will reap the benefits.”

Although Martha does not dance that much these days, she is in firm artistic control of the company, and her two dazzling daughters, Carla Zambrana and Anacarola Zambrana, both accomplished dancers in their own right, handle many of the lead roles and teaching chores with aplomb and panache. In her four decades of teaching and performing in Cochabamba, Martha has mentored literally thousands of highly-trained dancers, who have, in turn, spread her artistry far-and-wide in the Andes and beyond. A recent fiesta in her honor at a local restaurant brought over one hundred of her alumnos together (see photos), making it quite possibly the greatest collection of dance talent in one place in Cochabamba history. Martha is a native of Oruro, and that city’s noted prowess for dance may explain in her a genetic proclivity for the art, but after many years here she is a true Cochabambina, and proud of it. “It is the perfect place for me, for the people are exceptional, the climate is perfect, and the cultural scene is varied and high-quality.” Martha started dancing at an early age at the prompting of her family, and when her obvious talents emerged, she began her studies in Cochabamba with Spanish dance master Luis Montes. Later she travelled to Argentina and performed with Los Diablos Flamencos and the Jose de Maria dance company.

Muchas gracias maestra, for giving your students and fans something special, an artistry that makes the world a warmer, more graceful, and more exciting place. Your life’s work will endure in the dancers you have trained and the memories you have etched in the hearts of dance lovers. Viva Maestra Estivariz, Ole!

Cultural Corner

At the beginning of the 17th Century, Garcilazo de la Vega published “Comentarios Reales de los Incas” (Real Comments of the Incas), which created a place for different interpretations of history. The Creoles believed that Indigenous people were ferocious cannibals, and that they were treacherous and dirty. But, due to Garcilaso de la Vega’s work, they changed their mind. Native people felt represented by the importance that was given to their landscapes and experiences: this man was writing about their villages, homes, and lands.

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