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Uncanny Marlene Freitas
27.10.2011

Marlene Freitas was born in Cabo Verde. She studied at P.A.R.T.S., at E.S.D and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Portugal. In the last years, Freitas has been surprisingly present in contemporary dance circuits, both performing for other coreographers (Loic Touzé, Emmanuelle Huynn, Tânia Carvalho, Boris Charmatz) and creating her own work (A seriedade do Animal, Larvar).

Her most recent collaboration work - (M)imosa - develloped with Trajal Harell, François Chaignaud and Cecilia Bengolea, was received with great enthousiasm by many festivals all around europe, assembling the talent of these four 5-star performers around the premisse:  What would have happened in 1963, if someone from the voguing ball scene had come down to Judson Church in Greenwich Village to perform alongside the early postmoderns? In (M)imosa, Freitas does an outstanding impersonification of Prince, she impersonates the steaming body of this famous women’s lover. She plays Chopin with her breasts. She is fan number one of purple.  She is always other. Another.

(M)imosa MMF Piano from BS Cultural on Vimeo.

In this same year, Marlene has premiered Guintche, her most recent solo work presented recently in iDANS in October and ALKANTARA in June after 1week residence. Guintche is one of the most astonishing portraits of her work, by convoking the power of rituals, transe experience, totemic body imagery and music. In this solo, dance is a particular use of rhythm and repetition, rhythm is used as a continuous but forward moving transformation. The audience is invited to a highly symbolic threshold, where a continuous pattern of drums meets the regular (or irregular?) swing of Marlene’s hips, drawing a figure of intensity.  The experience of our eyes crosses the experience of her swinging hips, at the same time her face and fingers shape a character, holding this rhythmical figure within a theatrical figure. This character is shaped through its own shapelessness, its own infinite desire of becoming a Persona (a mask). And its form is energetic, because it is a character that inhabits a poem, not a novel.

Guintche de Marlene Monteiro Freitas from BS Cultural on Vimeo.

Take a look at an interview with Guru Ertem


Guru Ertem: The persona you create in your work “Guintche” resonates with the image of Josephine Baker – especially with the persona she depicted Danse Souvage (1927). Baker was an influential figure of her time, a civil rights and anti-racism activist who is said to have subverted the colonial gaze in her dance numbers and erotic dances through parody. What do you think of this affinity? Are there similar concerns in your work?

Marlene Freitas: A journalist once used the adjective "uncanny" in relation to my performance, and indeed I realise that a constant of my work has been the search of uncanniness: the coincidence of becoming another, radically another, while remaining myself, radically
myself. I therefore became Prince in (M)imosa, a mechanical dancer in Guintche, In a Seriedade do Animal (we) became hierogliphes while playing Baal from Bertolt Brecht , even recently, a Nereid in a work of Chaignaud+Bengolea. In some circumstances I may incarnate specific persona, but I guess it is this becoming radically another while remaining radically myself that drives me. Not incarnating specific persona in a theatrical and standard sense, but in the sense the persons in Jean Rouch's "Le Maitre fou" incarnate other persona... this clearly interests me. The erotic-parodic aspects converges into intensifying the performance/show and prompts the audience to project their memories and imagination. Although I have not consciously worked at reviving the persona of Baker, there is, as you recognise, a parallel between my and her performance, and therefore I accept your suggestion.
As to the political line in Baker, I see it, and I identify myself from an aesthetic point of view: she challenged the received ideas about what could fit and not fit into a good performance, how to make an intense performance. I obviously am interested in this aesthetics/politics. As to the identification of specific causes, I am not so sure in relation to either her or me...

(interview about Guintche in iDANS festival)



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