'Cuerpo Capital:' The Female Corporal Experience

How exactly does the daily grind affect a woman’s body? Five contemporary dancers under the direction of Paula Villagrán addressed this question in their performance of “Cuerpo Capital” at the Antiguo Hospital San José.

Santiago Chile Cuerpo Capital
Photo courtesy Cuerpo Capital

The performance has two main themes: 1) to show how everyday life affects a woman’s body and 2) to depict the increasingly small gap, due to technology and a changing society, between public and intimate spaces. The performance relies heavily on improvisation, with each of the five dancers expressing her personal struggle through individual choreography.

While much of the performance focuses on the individuals, there are also times where the dancers collaborate. Sometimes their movements are synchronized and other times they clash, reflecting movement in an overcrowded society.

Santiago Chile Cuerpo Capital
Photo courtesy Cuerpo Capital

With electric beats in the background, the dancers juxtapose smooth, sensual choreography with frequent and all out tumbles to the ground, thus showing the collision between femininity and the public sphere. Whether it be the subtle untying of a dress, the hiking up of a skirt, or an all out fierce struggle resulting in the complete removal of outer clothing, the women battle against their entrapment by the conventional ideas of public and private areas.

According to Villagrán, the increased presence of cameras in the public sector contributes to the corporal exploitation that many women experience. To illustrate this invasion of privacy, a camera projecting the dancer’s image onto the backdrop is placed above the stage. In separate segments, each dancer takes her turn being exposed in front of the camera and gives her interpretation of something intimate (whether it be part of the body, a personal smell, or an intimate feeling) that is made public due to technology and the proximity of city life.

The performance was made possible due to a government grant (Fondart 2008) that Villagrán received to create this project. The production marks a vital step in the effort to promote dance in Chile, a country whose citizens are generally not accustomed to seeing these types of presentations. Performances will continue every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday throughout the month of December. They take place at 8:30 pm at the Antiguo Hospital San José, which has now been transformed into a cultural center.

“Cuerpo Capital”
Antiguo Hospital San Jose
San Jose 1053 Independencia
Metro Cementerios
Friday-Sunday for the entire month of December
General admission CP$3,000; Students and Senior Citizens CP$2,000
Reservations: 02-7326265

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