The Body as a Mirrow of the World – Memory and Imagination by Alvaro Restrepo
Alvaro Restrepo, a Colombian dancer and choreographer, could have pursued his career anywhere in the world, like in New York, where he was trained, or in Europe, where he first made his mark. But in 1993, he decided to sacrifice all this to introduce modern dance to Colombia, where the discipline was barely known, and to teach it to disadvantaged children and teenagers. He teamed up with Marie-France Delieuvin, programme director at the National Centre for Modern Dance in Angers, France, and their joint endeavour has produced astonishing results.
In 1997 they founded together the “Colegio del Cuerpo” (College of the Body), a school of modern dance for children and teenagers of poor quarters in Cartagena de Indias in Columbia. In words of Alvaro Restrepo, creator of the project, “we use dance to educate this kids into citizens.” Using modern dance and improvisation, these kids from marginal communities learn values such as respect for one’s body, respect for the bodies of others, how to express anger and pain in nonviolent ways. They can learn dancing as an alternative to a precarious existence with few opportunities for professional development. But the merits of the Colegio del Cuerpo should not be measured by its social impact but by the excellence of its choreographies and stagings, the result of hard and rigorous work. For Cartajena, the Colegio del Cuerpo has collaborated with Oswaldo Macià, staging an improvisation dance for the play “Rodeado de lágrimas” (Surrounded by tears), in which Macià explores the language of weeping, both universal and culturally determined.