Caracas, Sep 8 (EFE).- On her wheelchair, Iraly skillfully performs a contemporary dance alongside Antonella, who completes the choreography standing on her legs, in an artistic symbiosis that seeks to leave its mark in Venezuela.
Both are part of a dance group of people with disabilities or, as they prefer to call it, of mixed abilities.
Under the name of Ubuntu, this permanent company of the Teresa Carreño Theater in Caracas brings together dancers with different abilities and physical limitations, who blur these differences and merge on stage to the rhythm of the music, with both theatricality and expertise.
The group, created in 2018 seeks to reach more Venezuelans, a double ambition, since they intend not only to increase the number of spectators inside and outside the theater, but also to recruit new dancers during their annual assembly workshop, open to people determined to explore this way of making art with inclusion, with or without conditions.
Those who, like Iraly Yánez, live with a disability face numerous obstacles due to the lack of an infrastructure that allows them to get around, so just leaving home is a challenge: no ramps, adapted transportation, or spaces for the transit of people with limitations of any kind.
But the 38-year-old dancer is not deterred. Several times a week, she travels up to 40 kilometers to get to the rehearsal hall, because she wants anyone who sees her as an example to “realize that there is a life to live and there is a lot to do.”
“It’s not the person with the condition that is disabled. What is highlighting your limitation is the infrastructure,” Yánez, who has been moving in a wheelchair since 2012, when she suffered an accident that kept her off the stage for five years, tells EFE.
But her commitment to dance, rehearsed from a young age, brought her back in 2018, when she joined Ubuntu as a founding member and saw that “not everything was as scary as I thought.”
SHARING THE ART
Antonella Mijares began her cycle in Ubuntu in 2021 when she got to know the group through a documentary that caught her eye to the point of considering herself “their number one fan.”
She expressed that admiration as a spectator in a performance where she laughed and cried while applauding. In 2022 she was invited to prepare a play for the cast.
The 32-year-old performer has expressed her connection to art on countless occasions. Still, she acknowledges to EFE that her arrival at Ubuntu has allowed her to learn other “tasty” ways of getting into dance. At the same time, her vigilante side has been re-powered, as she has become aware of the discrimination her fellow dancers suffer in everyday life.
“That person tells you the story that (…) suddenly the door of the building was locked, and no one would open it, that they couldn’t lower the little wall of the sidewalk, and no one passed by or people went the other way to avoid helping,” she says.
She and Iraly recently presented a work called Sororidad, in which they both hold and support each other while drawing shapes with their bodies on a floor full of roses and thorns.
Antonella remarks that “beyond the element of the wheelchair, Iraly as an artist, human being, dancer, creator (…) also allows herself to absorb from the other companion.”
Like the master with his baton, choreographer Alexander Madriz directs this project, which he created in 2018 after 20 years associated with mixed-abilities dance, a field he encountered in his youth as a one-day understudy in a dance troupe performance with people with disabilities.
That “single day” has lasted more than 30 years of his career, a time in which he understood and applied in the rehearsal room, that one takes advantage of each persons talent and “develops it during the creative processes,” keeping in mind that it is necessary to “push” the dancers and at the same time “give in” to their limitations.
Madriz, who regrets that in “Venezuela there are no adequate spaces” for groups like his, is convinced that it is “important to create awareness (…) so that all these groups can function, as a first step towards the goal that all citizens can “have the same opportunities.”