El Día Internacional de la Danza

It was a brisk day to stand outside and watch people dance in La Plaza de Armas’ open platform, the Odeón. However, a combination of the opening act’s bright blue genie costumes and a troupe of smiling girls was enough to draw in an audience.

Santiago Chile Dia de la Danza
Photo by Jason C. Hickerson

Santiago celebrated El Día Internacional de la Danza (International Dance Day), with ten Chilean universities’ dance programs or dances schools uniting for a public performance. International Dance Day aims to increase awareness of the importance of dance within various cultures and to persuade the government to acknowledge dance as a form of study and to increase funding for the art.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Jason C. Hickerson

The dance performances began at 4 p.m. in La Plaza de Armas' Odeón, a circular structure like a large gazebo with no railings, where elderly gentleman usually gather to play chess. To accommodate the performance the chess players kindly moved aside and continued their games beside the Odeón for the afternoon.

It was quite the unorthodox stage with the public viewing from all angles but with the dancers still facing one direction. However as it got a bit crowded at the front of the stage, the crowd was urged by the emcee to also watch from the back and the sides. This wasn't an ideal situation as the left of the stage was full of gentlemen playing chess, the right of the stage had a car beside it and the back angle was obviously not the ideal vantage point to receive the dances.

Apart from it being a bit difficult to see the performances, there was a bit of a stray dog problem afoot throughout the shows. One brown dog in particular could not get enough dance as he hopped on stage several times to join the performers. The dancers tried as hard as possible to ignore the furry ballerina but this was not such an easy task as he repeatedly jumped up on the dancers and even bit a young performer’s ear during the final bow.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Jason C. Hickerson

The dances varied from Bollywood influenced group dances, jazzy, hip hop numbers and many theatrical dances with a narrative implied. There were also a couple (a couple too many) of the typical, lyrical pas-de-deux between a man and a woman dancing to something like Celine Dion and acting out a love story.

There was one exceptional dance where the choreography matched the talent of the performers perfectly to create a theatrical and humorous dance number. The three male and three female dancers were clad in yellow and black outfits, representing different characters: one man acted as a Mexican Señor wearing a sombrero and a thin mustache, the other resembled a mime and the last was wearing a sports jacket with a hanky folded in the pocket. The women portrayed a range of characters, one in a nightgown, another in lingerie and the last a dress.

One of the first images in the piece was of the dancers standing in a line, facing the back of the stage. At once they all put their hands on someone else's bum cheek and gave it a good grab and jiggle. The dance piece, set to classical music, unfolded from there with a constant array of humorous images such as dancers pretending to be dogs and barking at one another (luckily the real dog was now at bay) or two dancers kissing rapidly after a spin. A particularly remarkable moment saw the Mexican, held in the air from his arms and legs by the other men, swinging like a human pendulum. What was even more incredulous was how he had skillfully made the jump off of the very slender lingerie girl’s shoulders into their waiting hands.

The dances, the dancers, the pigeons flying off the roof of the Odeón in flocks, the men playing chess, the cool breeze, the stray dogs and the crowds of people watching all combined to create a unique sense of love for dance that the day is all about.

El Día Internacional de la Danza
Consejo de la Cultura

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