*>graduation is transcendence (trance 'n dance)<*
graduation project process

about dance as a way to reappropriate the body
and trance as a state of heightened awareness


“The Church says: The body is a sin.
Science says: The body is a machine.
Advertisement says: The body is a business.
The body says: I am a party.”

-Eduardo Galeano

pamela varela, 2021
project: transcendence – trance 'n dance
thesis: body politics, body poetics

I am a tECkhnO¹ feminist artivist², dancer, performer, researcher, and technician of Latin American origin who creates interactive works that address the oppression of the body-mind-spirit³. "transcendence – trance ’n dance" explores the power of dance as a tool of bodily reappropriation and radical self-expression. Both the thesis and the piece focus on the liberation journey of the Self from the physical and psychological confinement imposed by the politics of a colonialist, patriarchal, and capitalist society.

"transcendence – trance ’n dance" is a generative, performative piece, where I fight against the spirits of oppression and along the spirits of liberation. I draw inspiration from my background as a dancer, as well as from protests and trance-inductive practices. I use the format of street dance, where dancers encounter and challenge each other, to create an energicospatiotemporal setting where the boundaries pushed are not against another human but against the machine.⁴

During the performance, a narrational electronic-poetic piece plays in space. I listen; I respond—through dance. Since I am remotely connected to a set of automated drums via a vaginal muscle reader, which reacts to the movements of my core, the outcome is a sonic clash between the drums (primal, ancestral, rooted) and the electropoetry (digital, intellectual, futuristic). I am the activator and mediator of a chain system of feedback interactions that guides the narrative. Rhythm beats rhythmic pulses.

I address technology as both medium and subject of critique, expressing its dualistic nature by showing its abusive face as representation of domination, as well as its supportive face by helping woman reclaim her power through corporeal and ancestral memory. The audience observes this interaction by being immersed in space, witnessing my movements converted into sensorial stimuli for them, offering a technologically-aided extension of my own experience as an invigorating translation for them.

The semiotic multiverse of the piece brings forward a narrative revolving the body, where sound, movement, anatomy, aesthetics, technology, and voices of the living and the dead create a subversive action where herstory will be told. The piece embodies dualistic binaries, and I battle to balance the forces, reclaiming my body as subject to stop it from being object, transcending from oppression to liberation.

This project is part of the sWitches trilogy.

¹tECkhnO references techno, without diminishing eco. The (mis)spelling introduces the idea of political activism, non-conformism, DISORDER. The k is inspired by the Spanish squatting movement OKUPA, as well as by MAGICK, differentiating itself from performance magic.
²Artist and activist.
³Inspired by spiritual artist Tabita Rezaire.
⁴Inspired more specifically by Chicago Footwork, a street dance style where the dancing is extremely fast and the music can go up to 170 bpm, so the dancer often challenges the speaker. Who can go faster?