Linhó prisoners dance their story for a new “choreography of life”

Entitled "My story is not equal to yours", the final show, under the artistic direction of choreographer Olga Roriz, takes place in the large auditorium of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in Lisbon, which supports the initiative through the PARTIS social inclusion programme.

Nine inmates between the ages of 20 and 30 are in final rehearsals this week, and the Lusa agency watched one, at Linhó prison, where the preview will take place today, starting at 15:00 p.m., only for the prison community.

Led by Olga Roriz and the dancer and coordinator of the project, Catarina Câmara, the young people warm up their bodies and dance the different moments of a choreography and a weekly work that can "change their way of thinking and their life ".

This is the expectation of Catarina Câmara, a dancer at the Companhia Olga Roriz (COR) for twenty years and a dance teacher, trained in Gestalt psychological therapy, which involves the body: "The final show is important, but we don't we won't stop there. We want to create a next moment of reflection, with the participating inmates, so that they seek answers to certain questions.

“What is 'Body in Chain' to me? How can I transform my life? What am I taking from here, what am I missing? are some of the questions that will “create a kind of choreography for life, with creative resources,” the dancer told Lusa during the rehearsal, adding, “Because freedom is the ability to do things differently, and doing things differently is a matter of imagination".

The "Corpo em Cadeia" project has been developed since 2019 in Linhó prison, and several inmates have already gone through the trials that, in the meantime, have been released from prison, the final show being one of the stages of the team that develops it, bringing together dancers, psychologists and volunteers.

What the participants did for months was “body and movement awareness work, through the language of dance,” and only one of them had any experience.

“At the time, I signed up more for fun because I didn't even like contemporary dance. Over time and with the help of Catarina [Câmara] I started to appreciate it and I changed the way of seeing things, the way of dealing with others, ”said Fábio Tavares, 28, at Lisa.

Although he never saw himself as a dancer, he says he lost the initial shame of doing the moves during rehearsals: "I'm no longer ashamed to show what I know and what I don't know" , he commented, adding that the project “helped him a lot” to gain self-confidence.

One of the most intense moments of the show occurs when they start drawing their cells in chalk on the floor, in a small rectangle that contains a bed, a sink and a toilet, and there they move around telling their story.

At another point, with a plastic bag of personal clothes in hand, they line up and talk about how they feel.

Olga Roriz claims that the project will continue for at least another two years, even without the support of Gulbenkian's PARTIS, as she expects public support from the competitions of the General Directorate of Arts. Roriz said that "there is a lot of work to be done" in this area, also in other channels.

“We feel more and more that the artistic part is not enough, there has to be a work of cohesion between the psychological part and the artistic part that must be done. They are men with big problems, in addition to being devitalized physically, they are also devitalized mentally, ”described the creator.

The choreographer considers that the project causes them a "physical and mental reorganization": "Reorganization of reflection on the past, how they are in the present and how to reach a future that is not just a dream, that is more concrete and of this type of project allows many people to meet. The channel's own management felt it,” he told Lusa.

Jeferson Silva, 27, is one of the youngest in the project and already says that "it's one of the best things" that has happened to him since joining Linhó.

“We are also stuck here in a paradigm, we don't have activities to motivate us,” he said, adding that he had always loved dancing, ever since he was a child, when his mother l took me to a school in Londrina, in northern Paraná, Brazil.

Rehearsals with the project crew are, for Jefferson, who has a solo in the show, "one of the best things of the week, besides visiting family members."

“Corpo em Cadeia” “gives us the possibility to use our voice, to show that we are trapped, but we manage to be free when we can express ourselves through dance,” he told Lusa.

Fábio and Jeferson both regret that “most prisons do not encourage inmates to integrate into society” with more activities.

"Inmates arrive and remain inactive for years, talk to an educator every six months, ask to work and go to school and it takes almost a year," Fábio Tavares reported, while Jeferson Silva pointed out that the “Corpo em Cadeia” project is good for changing the prisoner's routine, “always closed in the cell, the cafeteria and the patio, and thus opens the mind”.

“Some inmates have come here with a life of ups and downs, they have been through a lot of bad things. They also need to experience good things and learn activities that help them in life”, added Fábio Tavares, who defends more projects of this kind.

Olga Roriz, for her part, is always surprised when she sees “people who didn't have the appetite to be dancers” [that] managed to come here and put on a show”.

Presenting the show will be "a situation of euphoria for any dancer, sometimes overwhelming, and here it will be no different", underlined the coordinator Catarina Câmara.

From then on, he continues to bet on continuity, to see "what went well and what did not go well".

This participatory art project developed by the Olga Roriz Company, the General Directorate of Reintegration and Penitentiary Services and the Gestalt Institute of Florence, with the support of the PARTIS program – Artistic practices for social inclusion, aims to create the conditions for the artistic and human development of persons deprived of liberty.

The main idea is to “potentiate the transformative experience of dance with a community almost invisible to society, helping it to build life projects based on more prepared, free and conscious choices”.

The premiere of the show "My story is not equal to yours" takes place on Sunday, in the Grand Auditorium of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, at 16:00 p.m. Tickets cost five euros, with box office proceeds going entirely to the project.


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