Interview with Brazilian Dance Choreographer Mafê Toledo
Brazilian dance choreographer and Jungle collaborator Mafê Toledo shares her thoughts on a sense of belonging, migration and personal boundaries both in London and in her latest performance piece.
They said I (don’t) belong here
Dance is one of the most direct and effective ways to connect different people; I have always felt this very strongly throughout my dancing life. However it was not until I lived in London that I actually decided to focus on choreography as a means for sharing my thoughts and experience with those near me. Because this city’s dance scene is multicultural and diverse, it is the perfect place for me to approach ideas in a different way other than in my country of birth; also, people here have things to share and are ready to do it. For me, London represents a place where I can develop collaborative work with people from the most varied experiences.
My last dance piece was a full-evening performance entitled “DISPLACED” and it was a choreographic response to my migration experience from Brazil into London. However, during the creative process this piece’s theme evolved from a more personal account into a broader discussion about place, space and personal boundaries. Inspired by the facts that so many people who live in London are here for a transitory period and that those who live here for longer are most likely from another place, I wanted to approach displacement as a universal theme that would resonate in individuals with different life stories.
In line with the idea of how we, as humans, are constantly moving between different contexts or situations in order to grow our individuality I am now working on a new piece which stemmed from “DISPLACED” and has now found its own pathway. In this project, two other dancers and myself have been investigating what makes people feel they belong somewhere, and also how individuals always look for specific places in which to fit/place themselves.
The ideas of adaption and adjustment are at the core of this dance trio, in the sense of how different people relate to the boundaries that separate them from the rest of the world. We have been looking at the notions of personal space and how this is flexible from person to person, also considering social interactions and cultural differences as part of the process. By literally looking for space and restricting each others’ movements, also playing with how far apart or close together our bodies can be, we seek to establish different relationships between ourselves as individuals, the space around us and with those who are watching us.
“They said I (don’t) belong here” premieres as part of Resolution! 2011, a platform for new choreographers at The Place: Robin Howard Dance Theatre. The performance makes part of a triple-bill with two other works from Motus Project and Maia Lloyd Dance, which makes it all the more an exciting evening featuring fresh samples of London’s diverse cultural scene. Hope you can come along!
By Mafê Toledo