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Throughout my creative journey, I've had the privilege of connecting with two contemporary artists and performers whose methods and exploratory themes deeply resonate with my own. One artist whose work has played a pivotal role in my journey of "coming back home" is Sharon Mercado Nogales, an indigenous Bolivian dancer and artist. She harnesses the power of technocumbia to bridge the gap between her ancestral heritage and the present day. It was through her project, "Recuerdos del Presente," (memories of the present) that I found myself on a path of rediscovery and exploration, ultimately leading to a two-year-long reconnection with the world of cumbia.


"Recuerdos del Presente" by Sharon highlights the rhythmic essence of Andean Cumbia, with its evocative melodic tones that seamlessly blend nostalgia with celebration. Her performance creates a unique space that weaves together three fundamental elements: Cumbia, Ch’alla, and festivity. Within this space, a myriad of images and narratives converge, with a central theme exploring the contradiction between emotions like sadness and happiness, solitude and togetherness.





I vividly recall the moment during her performance when clips of Sabados Populares were projected onto the wall, and a circle of beer bottles opened and laid, spilled, on the floor. This poignant imagery transported me back to the family parties of my childhood in Mexico. The loud, crackling speakers and the scent of dust and motor oil suddenly felt vivid and real, even though I was a thousand miles away. It became clear to me that Sharon's intent was to rekindle memories of family get-togethers, shared revelry, and spirited dance steps, all while invoking a profound sense of nostalgia.

In her cumbia, I could discern the resolute echoes of those who came before her, their powerful footsteps resonating through the rhythm. Through her dance, I not only experienced the exuberance but also the deep-seated sorrows of history. Her presence stirred something profound within me, a feeling that has lingered.

I reached out to Sharon, and our connection led me to join her technocumbia dance classes in Berlin. During these classes, I discovered that her unique methodology heavily relies on memorization and reconfiguration. Sharon skillfully works with archival footage from Sabados Populares, using it as the wellspring from which she creates her own future ancestral dances. I found that her Bolivian cumbia dances seemed to come naturally to me, and amidst the shared moments of laughter and pure movement, we found joy in our shared journey.





She embodies a resilient voice in the realm of border politics. Her journey through European performance spaces serves as a testament to the notion that the movements we inherit remain an integral part of our identity, even on foreign soil. It was through her artistry and the profound friendship we cultivated that I had the privilege of encountering Rodrigo De La Torre, a father, artist and choreographer from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico.

Rodrigo De La Torre, too, identifies as indigenous, not by virtue of a culture he consciously embraces, but because of the culture he inherits. In June of this year, I had the honor of participating in Rodrigo's performance titled "Frontera/ Procesion – A Water Ritual." This performance ingeniously reinterprets his original dance matraca, which was crafted in his community straddling the border between Mexico and the United States. This dance typically unfolds within the context of the intense and sometimes violent border space, where issues like drug trafficking, militarization, and the presence of low-wage industries converge.

A unique connection formed between Rodrigo and me once we discovered that we were born and raised in neighboring towns. Rodrigo shared with me that I reminded him of his daughter, as he and his family had moved to the United States around the same time my family did, seeking a better quality of life. While delving into his world, I learned that the roots of his dance can be traced back to the so-called "Conquest Dances," which were originally designed by the Spanish crown to symbolize the Christian triumph over the Moors in the Iberian Peninsula. He elucidated that the matraca is a reimagination of "los matachine," a dance traditionally performed on December twelfth in honor of the Virgin Mary. During the colonial era, this dance was manipulated as a racist propaganda tool, serving to perpetuate the distinction between white and non-white populations in Latin America. Indigenous individuals were compelled to portray the "Moor" and reenact their defeat, while the Christian characters represented the victory of Spain. As time progressed, the dance evolved into a form of resistance or "reconquista," adapting to the ever-changing contexts of modern colonialism and later, the age of neoliberalism.



Through the exploration of a border choreography that weaves together elements of hip-hop culture, colonial narratives, indigenous practices, and mysticism, Rodrigo serves as a reminder that the border is not solely a physical location but is also inscribed in the human body.

What stands out most about both Sharon and Rodrigo is the remarkable fusion of their art and identity. Their dances are not merely performances; they are life essentials, devoid of any intentions of amassing wealth. Instead, they craft ceremonial spaces to share their experiences with others, a testament to their desire to lay bare the wounds of their shared past. This radical approach to performance is one that I aspire to further develop, as I believe it holds the key to the future of performance art. In many ways, I find myself identifying with Sharon and Rodrigo. Like them, my body carries the weight of dispossession. Like them, my very existence is intrinsically political. And, like them, my voice resonates through the captivating rhythms and beats of cumbia.

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