Live dance and pause for thought in Berlin: Pau Aran and Martha Hincapié Charry at Plataforma 2020

Dock 11, Berlin
August 6-9, 2020

Veronica Posth

Due to the present restrictions, this year’s Plataforma Festival at Dock 11 took place over just four days. Each show was restricted to a maximum twenty spectators, all 1.5-metre distanced.

On stage were two performers: Pau Aran and Martha Hincapié Charry, both with roots in the Folkwang Hochschule Essen and imprinted by the work of Pina Bausch. Both presented solos, Aran his Étude V and Hincapié Charry her AMAZONIA 2040. Both shows are extraordinarily developed and performed, and sharply up to date.

Etude V opens to the sound of waves. Aran’s entrance is tender, delicate and friendly. He looks into the eyes of every spectator, establishing an intimate connection. The fluidity of his elegant movements strongly recall Bausch’s language as they give rise to a graceful and fully engaged playfulness that brings to mind the magical beauty of children when completely absorbed in their imaginary games and fantasies.

Pau Aran in Etude VPhoto #alejopuertok
Pau Aran in Etude V
Photo #alejopuertok

Aran’s beautiful and magnetic body language colours the piece superbly, exploring simplicity yet complexity through his expressive, radiant body. Inspired by the work of the Peruvian poet César Moro, founder, Aran says, of a “poetic galaxy, as passionate and profound as it is unknown to many”, Aran references the poet’s texts as a kind of lighting conductor for all of the mysteries of the human condition and, above all, of the mysteries of love.

Reciting them between spacious, extended movements and accompanied by classical masterpieces, Aran gives life to a composition that merges with Moro’s words generating a narrative of clear intentions and poetical nuances. Insights come out through marvellous lines that have an energetic pull and a beneficial ripple effect that make you wish they would never end. Aran touches the soul and captivates. The burden of the present time’s uncertainty seems to be temporarily relieved as we look at his vibrant form, his enchanting and beautiful body looking like an unworldly creature, a wise entity and a sacred organism.

AMAZONIA 2040 is a fiery yet resigned performance by Colombian choreographer Martha Hincapié Charry. Her Quimbaya indigenous roots makes the narration of her and the condition of Amazonia particularly compelling. She brings vital information about the state of the Amazon region and its indigenous tribes that are seriously endangered by the brutal destruction of the environment motivated by power, greed and materialism. The so-called civilised society appears in this context as much as destructive and barbaric one.

Images of the jungle, portraits of indigenous people and storytelling come together in a celebration-meditation; a multi-layered performance that becomes a sacred and intimate ritual.

Martha Hincapié Charry in AMAZONIA 2040Photo courtesy Martha Hincapié Charry
Martha Hincapié Charry in AMAZONIA 2040
Photo courtesy Martha Hincapié Charry

Starting as a camouflaged insect, Hincapié Charry moves in front of two close-up projections of Amazonia. Through organic metamorphoses, she transforms into a victim, a warrior and eventually a shaman. Sounds of the jungle are transformed and interrupted by others that recall the noise of industrial machinery. A sense of gravity and grief is penetrating, particularly after her first vocal intervention. The story is tragic. It becomes an urgent emphatic call to action as the biodiversity of the region is endangered and damaged by the indifferent and greedy people from outside.

Hincapié Charry asks crucial questions. What will be the state of the Amazon rainforest in twenty years? How do political landscapes influence our relationship with nature? What can we learn from ancestral cultures to renew our relationship to Planet Earth?

I cannot help but reflect back to a talk by Indian scholar and environmental activist Vandana Shiva a few weeks ago, when she underlined the parallels between Planet Earth and the ongoing pandemic. Long after humankind started to exploit and take advantage of the planet with unconscionable greed and disrespect, producing vast amounts of carbon dioxide, poisoning soils and waters, editing genes, deforesting, exploiting and generally condemning the balance and beauty of Mother Nature, a lethal virus that affects lungs and the other vital organs was born and so far seems to be not eradicable, she noted. The parallels between the destruction of Amazonia and the affected lungs of humankind is seems particularly appropriate and thought provoking. The Amazon, lung of this planet, has been facing unacceptable destruction and exploitation for decades. Now a respiratory virus is killing thousands of people around the globe.

Martha Hincapié Charry in AMAZONIA 2040Photo courtesy Martha Hincapié Charry
Martha Hincapié Charry in AMAZONIA 2040
Photo courtesy Martha Hincapié Charry

AMAZONIA 2040 is a powerful celebration of the region and its indigenous communities. Superbly developed and performed, numerous striking images cause the watcher to reflect on the spoiling of the sacred habitat and urge that it is instead treasured and saved. When expanses of plastic and trash are projected in contrast with a large overview of the region, the effect is piercingly disquieting. Questions arise and need to be shared. When will the greed of the industrialised and capitalist society end? When will humankind will start realising the repercussions of its actions? Is what we are experiencing right now worldwide not enough to rethink values and ways of living?

After the performances, two screenings made one think even wider and empathise with those communities that, although far away from us, are an essential part humanity and a precious source of ancient and wise truths.

Messages from the Earth is a documentary compiling the reflections and views of four Indigenous men and women from the Tupinambá Hāhāhāe, Oankarau, Kariri-Xocó and Tupinnambá ethnicities. They question what it means to be civilised and what it means to be barbarian. Through their lived experiences, and through the memories and trauma suffered by their elders, they reflect on both the local and global realities of human coexistence with nature.

Then, Aldeia de Cachimbo follows the re-conquering of the Cachimbo Village. It presents a close look at a modern battle to regain cultural heritage, traditional and ancestral land. The Indigenous worldview and cosmologies presented are in stark contrast to Western beliefs and traditions, and highlight some of the complexities of preserving indigenous groups in the Brazilian north-east.

Although this year’s Plataforma programme was reduced due to the Covid 19 pandemic, it proved an enriching experience that gave space to learn, reflect and engage in an important debate that needs the wider attention of us all.