Multiple Exposures: Moving Bodies and Choreographies of Protest in Contemporary Catalonia


  • Helena Buffery University College Cork


This article explores the significance of the moving body in contemporary Catalan culture, specifically by reading cross-disciplinary reframing of the dancer’s body in relation to the increasing deployment and visibility of choreographies of protest (Foster 2003) in urban social movements, demonstrations and public assemblies such as those galvanized by the pro-Independence movement. After careful consideration of the relationship between dance and genealogies of protest in Catalonia, the article will outline the different ways in which contemporary dance has interacted with contemporary Catalan theatre culture, before going on to focus more closely on disentangling the different aesthetic, political, and ethical rationale and effects of the recent mobilization of the dancer’s body beyond the spaces of the contemporary dance circuit. Reflecting on how the dancer’s body functions in three recent (2014–2017) shows witnessed in Barcelona—Àlex Rigola’s adaptation of Joan Sales’s novel Incerta Glòria (Uncertain Glory) at the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya, Carme Portaceli’s staging of the testimonies of women victims of Francoist violence during and after the Spanish Civil War, as recovered and reframed by feminist historian Carme Domingo, in Només són dones/Solo son mujeres (They’re only Women) at the Josep Maria de Sagarra theatre in Santa Coloma de Gramenet, and Sol Picó’s collaborative, processual work with women dancers and musicians of diverse cultural origins in WW–We Women at the Mercat de les Flors—I aim to articulate how they function as choreographies of protest: plotting the different modes of subjectivation enacted and their relationship to narratives of individual, social and cultural vulnerability, precarity and trauma in the contemporary Catalan space.