Livia Daza-Paris: Sanctity and sanctuary

Sanctity and sanctuary

Photo: Martin Bélanger: Revelling in the role of impostor

Dance artist Livia Daza-Paris echoes pain of political refugees in Wet Petal

Livia Daza-Paris was born into a Venezuelan family of "romantic anarchists and leftists." They were persecuted by the authorities, interrogated, even tortured. As a young girl she experienced "the mark of the oppressor, the impact of the fear, the tension and the violence of their lives." And yet she felt the strength of their convictions. "I grew up proud," she says.

Daza-Paris feels the past can inhabit an individual. "Time is timeless. Events are charged. Whatever happened is still happening… As an adult I feel that perhaps I have the skills to deal with (these) persistent memories and realities, and this is why I’m doing this work," she confides. The dance artist’s installation Wet Petal echoes the life stories of other political refugee women. The organic structure of her installation/performance reveals the poetic density of their lives: the terrible losses, but also "the strength of the collective voice and the collected wisdom coming out of a secret," she says. "We can count the deaths that every war has had, give statistics, but seldom do we talk about how the soul finds the poetry to continue. There is a need to reconcile the outer history with the inner history."

Daza-Paris is diving into herself in this work, weaving scenes of moral and emotional intricacy and suggestiveness. "I am connecting to a labyrinth of memories and energies," she says. In the end, she suggests, the intensity of the audio-visual material she presents cleanses the viewer’s squeamishness and fear. "One of the strengths of surviving through horrific events is to recover the sense of sensuality over and over again, and reflect beauty somehow as a force of life."


Martin Bélanger is a subtle, intelligent hybrid performer who makes us think. A self-proclaimed "impostor" in both theatre and dance, he’s found true contentment and exhilaration in the last few years working with the PME experimental theatre group (Jacob Wren, et cie.).

Bélanger’s own solo creation, Spoken Word/Body, probes stage performance and questions motivation, justification, rationale and the need to get to the root of things. Yet he’s wary of the power of this psychoanalyst-cum-Judeo-Christian-confessional paradigm. "The piece is certainly not about psychoanalysis, although it is about that indirectly in the sense that psychoanalysis undermines our way of thinking, our motivation, mine anyway, and kills the poetry," he says.

His passion for moving and the trigger of spoken word – being front and centre, sharing an idea or an opinion, or just committing oneself – makes for riveting theatre. He describes the genre as "dirty, lewd and a bit rock’n'roll." Likewise, his "unkosher" narration style isn’t poetic or rhythmic, and might rattle spoken word cognoscenti. But his assured performance breaks through to something potent.

Wet Petal
MAI, Oct. 2-4, 9-11
Spoken Word/Body

Tangente, Oct. 10 (in English), Oct. 11 (in French)

Posted in