marcela levi


Luis Cornejo
Primer Acto Magazine
December 2008

Brazil: Bodies and Words
Festival In-Presentable 08
Marcela Levi and Luiz de Abreu subvert the icons

The greater artistic contribution of the In-Presentable 08 Festival has been the meeting of contemporary scenic expressions that presented/displayed different visions and reflections from others Brazilian cultures, in a clear option to elude and even to debate the stereotypes that circulate in Europe about this immense and plural country and his people1.
In past June, the works and colloquies of the dancers and choreographers Marcela Levi (in-organic) and Luiz de Abreu (O Samba do Crioulo Doido) offered a rich, ironic and critical discussion of subjects and icons of the dominant cultures, concretely, of the one which maintains and feeds macho and patriarchal values, and the one which discriminates and uses black men and women.
[...] © LCE

Against death

Marcela Levi (Rio de Janeiro, 1973) chooses icons and totemic images of a cattle or cowboy culture, the culture of the ox or the bull, of the rodeo, with Iberian roots, a persistent culture in some zones of Brazil, that assimilates the woman/promised/ fiancée, to a cow, with respect to the figure of the man/promised/fiancé, that would be the horse-breaker.

Concretely, she chooses (and narrates in a passage) the ritual of the man who literally "throws the lasso" around a woman. The dancer quarters this habit, puts her entrails in the open, creating and celebrating a liberating rite.

In a white room, she exposes herself in her dance, undressed, at a few meters from the spectators, interlacing and juxtaposing three series of actions and symbols.

The first series, that opens and closes the ritual, is the offering, charges and copulations of the cow, that she herself is, sustaining a head of dissected bull, that she moves in turns.

Besides that, there are alternated passages of the "lasso ceremony", a long pearl necklace, with which she coils her body, rhythmically, with a music background of the "cattle" celebration mixed with ring tones; the action culminates with the sewing of her mouth, which she symbolizes slowly placing hairpins in her lips, decorated with this silence muzzle; during this series, Marcela Levi says to the public: "And it is like that. He likes it. She likes it".

In one third action, brief, before the end of the cow ritual, she opens another perspective of the inertia of "and it is like that": She reads the story of a photographer who was awarded an important prize thanks to his image of a fatal accident in the street, made before any initiative of aid. The narration of the photographer describes the manufacture and diffusion of this image as a daily routine.

"I'm interested in what bothers me", affirmed latter Marcela Levi in the colloquy after the representation. "It bothers me very much when people say about something: "It is like that... and nothing can be made to change it". That is death. For that reason I use that phrase, or the newspaper story. People see those things, read the newspaper and do not do anything."

And with respect to her point of view, she affirmed:

"I'm interested in the irony of the tragic thing, to wake up what it is anesthetized, but I am always me from the interior, not from outside."

After collaborating with choreographers as Lia Rodrigues and Vera Mantero, among others, in this piece, created together with Ana Carolina Rodrigues, Marcela Levi works with Flavia Meireles, who collaborates as her assistant of direction and dramatist, being present at all the creative process. About this work, created during a year, she says:

"I work with repetition and juxtaposition, the automatic association of elements. A thing takes me to another one. We make a long chain and we soon cut the immediate pieces, and put "holes" among them. There's a game with a body and there are the objects, and there is always a third element, which can be the symbol, which arises in this relational game that I play with you. For me it is very important to have a quite rigid structure and to diminish the time between thought and action; to always have the body in the space in relation to something."

1 - The curator of this contemporary scenic arts festival of Casa Encendida, the dancer and choreographer Juan Domínguez, commented: "Thanks to the collaboration of Panorama Festival, of Rio de Janeiro, this year we wanted to create an ampler and deeper context than that one a single creator can bring. The four artists we reunited give a critical and political reinterpretation of their society and cultures."