© Bo Vloors
THE RIVER AND THE DEVIL, première 2024 (research 2022-2023)
It is said that during colonial times, in the Bolivian Andean Plateau, the colonisers were speaking of the Desaguadero river as diabolical, as an evil body of water. By calling the river ‘the Devil,’ they aimed at transforming it into a place to be avoided, destroyed, and extracted. The accumulation of centuries of continuous destruction and extractivism resulted in the ongoing desertification of the Desaguadero river; the transformation of its body from water to salt. During the performance, a docu-fictional choreography unveils the devil as the river’s guardian. Can the strength of the devil serve as a tool of resilience? Where is the devil now that the water is gone?
The River and The Devil is both a dance piece and a choreographic reading space, in which a circulation of words, sounds, gestures and objects embody and imagine the ruins of a disappearing river. During the performance, the audience is guided through a choreography involving dance and collective storytelling: a group of objects navigate among the audience, inviting them to touch, hold, pass on, read, watch, listen and attempt to embody the river in different ways : being its shore, its body, its protector, its witness and its voice. Involved in a multi-scale dance across bodies, the audience is engaged in modulations of attention.
In a nonlinear sensorial atmosphere, and embraced by a soundscape created by sound artist Vica Pacheco together with a set of hydraulic sculptures, The River and the Devil honors different mythological and secret figures : winds, swirls, sacred places, foam and other forces that since deep times have been taking care and protecting the river. I was told that these are that forces that the colonizers named as the devil. Where do they go now that the river has dried out? What happens when one loses its own body? What does it remain? Perhaps, we’re left with stories, beliefs, the whistling of spirits and the voices of the audience telling together a story in the dark.
Concept, direction and performance: Paula Almiron
Dramaturgical advisers: Simon Asencio, Louise Vanneste, David Weber-Krebs
Conceptual dramaturg: Wouter De Raeve
Salt sculptures / visual artist: Florencia Almiron
Sound design: Vica Pacheco
Special thanks to: Eliane Bertschi
Residency support: wpZimmer, kunstencentrum BUDA, kunstenwerkplats, C-TAKT, La Bellone Maison de Spectacle, La Serre Arts Vivants (Montreal), CND Paris, SEN (Studio Etangs Noirs), Tenerife LAV, GC Het Huys, Meyboom Artist-run Spaces.
Production: Four-Thirty-One vzw & Hiros
Supported by: Flemish Government