26 — 28.05.2023
Calixto Neto Recife-Paris
dance — premiere
In his book Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehesi Coates writes a letter to his teenage son, who begins to learn about the world and its dangers. Being a Black man in the United States, Coates knows that his son could lose his body at any moment. It’s a body that does not belong to him, and which lives in fear of being taken away in an instant. One’s body can be lost to the violence of the police, to the logic of the streets and their gangs, or to the possibility of an easier life by erasing its roots and suddenly becoming an empty bag with no inner life. This book is the starting point for Calixto Neto's new creation. After co-creating Outrar with Lia Rodrigues in 2021, the Brazilian-born dancer and choreographer returns to the festival with a world premiere. He brings to the stage notions of manipulation, exploring the ventriloquist technique. His body emits a speech without being identified as the speaker, as if it were an imposter; his body moves as if it doesn’t belong to him. IL FAUX bursts into a myriad of gestures and sounds. It is a tribute to all those for whom one's body is continually reconquered, reaffirmed, and reassured. Through his incredible stage presence, Calixto Neto guides us as in a magic show between the dispossession of the body and the power of its reconquest.
“Dance piece for a dispossessed body.
Illusion-confusion feat. power-resistance.
Dispossession meets fiction meets state violence meets meat meets flesh.
Creation as manipulation.
Smile like you like it, say hello to the guests.
Applause! A round of applause!
All that you see is real.”
In 2019, my friend Ghyslaine Gau lent me a book called Between the World and Me by African-American writer Ta-Nehesi Coates. In this letter to his son, who was about to turn fifteen, Coates warns him about the dangers of being an African-American teenager and soon to be a black man. Overall, he expresses his fear that his son will lose his body. These last three words struck me as very familiar, something I knew from home – words that had been metabolized and turned into the transmission of the vocabulary of fear, the choreography of survival, the need to double-check the world around me to keep away from danger. It’s like a grammar that I learned at an early age and still carry in my body today, perhaps because the world does not let me forget that at any moment, I can be the next one to lose my body.
Some time ago, I went to check my birth certificate and realized that the way my father (tried to) prevent me from those dangers was to register on that lifelong document that my skin color is tan (morena). And I remembered that some years ago, I saw a list of terms that the Brazilian population would use to define their skin colors, in a governmental research, back in 1976. On that list, morena (tan) is in the 84th position out of 134 terms. On that list, the Brazilian population used all its creativity to name what there is between black and white. Above all, they invented ways to avoid stamping on their skin the possibility of losing their bodies. Some of the terms mentionned on this list would not appear in that kind of research nowadays. Racism is still very present in Brazilian society, but they are definitely more racially aware and would name their skin color otherwise. Especially in the past two decades, with the black and brown population assuming their place as afro-descendents, even when you are number 32, or 78, or 111 on the list…
On that list, in the 107th position, we find one word that kind of encompasses this variation between black and white: parda. Parda is nowadays the biggest part of the Brazilian population. Long ago, the Black community decided to embrace this part of the population and consider them all as black. Because pardo as an ethno-racial category started appearing out of violence, because the beauty of the mixture was not exactly one of the values of colonization, because theories of racial whitening was widely accepted and even guided State politics until the beginning of last century. And now still, the further we are from the black color, the closer we are to privilege – further away from the danger of losing our bodies.
But pardo is also a kind of paper in Brazil. And that makes me think about Afro-Brazilian artist Maxwell Alexandre, who in 2017 created a series of paintings using pardo paper as a support, picturing black people in both ordinary and extraordinary situations. The color of black skin, confused with the color of paper, returns as a condition of resistance, as a reaction: “pardo is paper!” By doing this, Maxwell joins the political initiative of the Black movement and proposes a new power to us, the people. If we don’t actually have it, we dream it and write, sing, dance, paint it – as a call to history: the inescapable future of the reconquest of our bodies.
Or to make the world understand that we are already there.
- Calixto Neto
- May 2023
List drawn up in 1976 by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics – IBGE, the government agency responsible for taking the census – in a research to collect the terms used by the population to describe their skin color. This list was found on the PhD thesis of Brazilian teacher-researcher-artist Eleonora Fabião, PRECARIOUS, PRECARIOUS, PRECARIOUS. Performative Historiography and the Energetics of Paradox: Arthur Bispo do Rosario’s and Lygia Clark’s works in Rio de Janeiro. New York University, 2006.
Presentation: Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Charleroi danse
Choreography and performance: Calixto Neto | Artistic advisor: Luiz de Abreu | Artistic collaboration: Ana Laura Nascimento, Carolina Campos | Production: Julie Le Gall | Light design: Eduardo Abdala | Sound design: Chaos Clay | Set design and costumes: Rachel Garcia | Vocal coach: Dalila Khatir | Stage management: Emmanuel Fornès | Outsourced production: VOA - Calixto Neto
Coproduction: Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Charleroi danse - Centre chorégraphique de Wallonie-Bruxelles, Festival d’Automne à Paris, Centre National de la Danse, ICI-CCN de Montpellier, Theater Freiburg, CCN-Ballet national de Marseille in the context of Accueil Studio/Ministry of Culture, CCN de Caen in the context of Accueil Studio, CNDC Angers, CCN d’Orléans
With the support of: Villa Albertine in partnership with the French Embassy in the United States and the Teatro Municipal do Porto Rivoli - Campo Alegre
Acknowledgments: Ana Pi, João Torres, Fabiana Ex-Souza, Clément Vergé, Georgina Moreira, Thamara Moreira
Performances in Brussels with the support of the French Institute and the French Embassy in Belgium, in the frame of EXTRA
IL FAUX is the project supported by the Friends of Kunstenfestivaldesarts in 2023