marcela levi


Djuna Kramer
Viewed on July 9, 2019, De Melkweg
July 2019


Like a cross between a raver and someone about to turn into a werewolf, this is how the Argentinian dancer Ícaro dos Passos Gaya looks at the beginning of the dance solo Boca de Ferro. Sniffing heavily, he dances past the spectators, who stand in a circle along the walls of the room. With a possessed look in his eyes, he stomps hard on the floor, while his arms make pounding movements that suggest a techno party. Occasionally he rubs on someone.

Dos Passos Gaya makes another round, and another, and another: it seems to go on endlessly. Meanwhile, the sweat gushes from his naked torso, mixed with a dark purple dye that seems to have come from nowhere. His gaze is never focused on someone and can best be described as possessed. It is impressive how long he can hold on to this frantic dance and how he keeps on maintaining the same rhythm with his pounding feet, so that the beat can be felt without music.

Although it is a fascinating (and also somewhat frightening) spectacle, you wonder at some point whether this will continue for the rest of the show. But then suddenly loud music pops through the speakers, which startles the audience. A male voice scans incoherent fragments of text in Portuguese, which are translated on a projection screen. What we hear is North Brazilian tecnobrega, a genre that can be heard at street parties in the Brazilian region of Pará and where choreographers Marcela Levi and Lucía Russo want to pay homage to Boca de Ferro. DJs mix everything up at these parties, from Justin Bieber to aggressive Brazilian hip hop. Throughout all this you can hear the Caribbean rhythms that have strongly influenced the traditional music of this region. "Boca de Ferro" means iron mouth and refers to the megaphones with which decades ago the dance parties were announced that laid the foundation for the tecnobrega.

That this music is only introduced halfway through the performance works well. The spectator has already been brought to trance by the monotonous beating of Dos Passos Gaya, and is therefore hyper-focused on everything he does. If he suddenly falls to the ground and gasps for a few minutes with a pained face, if he chants texts about sex and violence, if he lies convulsively on the floor: you can't look away. Moreover, his sweat and saliva literally spray over you, making it impossible to escape from this performance.

At first it seems very ambitious, one dancer who has to convey the atmosphere of a whole rave, but gradually the choice becomes understandable. During parties like this you can step outside of yourself in such a way that it actually becomes a very individual experience, even if you are in a crowd. Boca de Ferro shows how one person, perhaps also thanks to the necessary drugs, is led along by a party, by scattered pieces of text and music that keep bringing him into different atmospheres. Who exactly surrounds him, the public in this case, is irrelevant. Dos Passos Gaya not only delivers a phenomenal physical performance, but also gives you the experience of a particularly filthy party evening, without having to move for a single moment.