Two Cultures Unite in Dance

Mar 16, 2010 8:00am

ABC News on Campus reporter Loren Grush blogs:

For students attending El Colegio del Cuerpo in Cartagena, Colombia, dancing isn’t just a hobby; it’s a necessity. With the ever-present risk of falling prey to poverty, guerrilla groups, and drug gangs, El Colegio serves as an oasis for those hoping to steer clear of a potentially dangerous lifestyle while pursuing their life’s passion.  In an attempt to inspire change in their community and promote dialogue in the Americas, students from the college are speaking out in a language that translates across cultures: dance. 

Five students from El Colegio came together to perform with five students from the University of Texas in a piece called “The Rope,” an interpretative dance of the short story, “The Tightrope Walker,” by Dorothy Gilman. They recently performed their dance in UT’s Annual Dance Repertory Theatre Spring Concert.

The project came to fruition through the efforts of UT’s Department of Theatre and Dance, ArtesAméricas, and El Colegio del Cuerpo, Colombia’s first contemporary dance center. Created in 1997, El Colegio focuses on educating disadvantaged youths from the barrios of Cartagena about the art of dance so as to open up possibilities to them that would otherwise be unavailable. Their philosophy stems from the belief that modern dance has the power to heal and improve the nation’s quality of life.

The dancers have rehearsed in both Cartagena and Austin, all the while getting a better grasp on their partners’ backgrounds and blurring the cultural lines that initially separated them. Although the students only had a short amount of rehearsal time, they ultimately put together a 45-minute dance with three movements. 

Aptly named “Canción del Cuerpo” or “Song of the Body,” their UT spring concert was met with sold out audiences and enthusiastic reviews.

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