Performing Arts: Dance
October 20, 2019
Bizet’s familiar opera Carmen has numerous interpretations in dance, but few if any that question its basic premise: when a woman is out of line, it will be her destiny to suffer a violent death. As part of the National Day of Action against Domestic Violence, choreographer and dance artist Gabriela Estrada created a solo that brings attention to the sobering facts surrounding domestic violence, and the problem of our blithe acceptance of what amounts to a crisis of epic proportions.

The lovely Ivanka Figueroa began with her back to us, with strains of the opera playing as she moved through flamenco-esque port de bras and the sensual movement often used to portray Carmen. After a tender quotidian moment where she rinsed her hair in a small basin on a table, we heard the sound of a heavy door slam, and the mood instantly changed. Figueroa’s sweet, carefree expression and liquid movement quality became tinged with fear, palpable both through the tension in her body and her sharp gestures, as well as her eyes.

Estrada’s combination of modern dance movements and gesture imbued with meaning expertly transported our attention through Figueroa’s emotional stages: a daydream abruptly turned to nightmare, without any gratuitous show of violence; the mere suggestion of what was coming was enough. At the end, Figueroa slowly and deliberately pointed to three audience members, and lastly to herself, in a strong denial of being the next victim (one in every four women will suffer domestic violence – a sobering statistic). It was a potent and moving solo that successfully avoided the pitfalls of creating a socially conscious art, by not sermonizing or veering into cliché. Estrada is a choreographer to watch.

A full performance of Ni Una Carmén Mas! Not a Single Carmen Morewas given at St. Mark’s Church on October 5th in collaboration with Joy Kelly (actor and storyteller), Regina Ress (storyteller), JoannAnn Tucker (filmmaker). Art still holds out the possibility of making a difference: may their work continue to increase awareness and help women heal.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Nicole Duffy Robertson

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