The eco-cultural and socio-educational project Rivers of Meeting, dedicated last weekend to the presentation of two plays, premiered in its recent tour of the United States. Sharing the fruits of six months of collective research and artistic creation to its own community of Cabelo Seco coincided with a celebration of the life of the great Amazonian arts educator, Maria Silva, assassinated on May 24th 2011, and celebration of Africa Day, the continent that cradles the Afro-descendent founding community of Marabá city in the Brazilian Amazon.
In the play ‘Let Our River Pass!’, dances from Pará, presented by members of AfroMundi Dance Company and of the Dancing Streets micro-project and energized by the percussionists of Backyard Drums, motivate Mother earth to believe in the potential of the young artists of Cabelo Seco to create an ancestral intervention to save the River Tocantins from the seduction of the Dolphin who offers free water, electricity, air-conditioning and homes for all. On stage, in this reinterpretation of the Amazonian myth, sensitized during a ballet rehearsal, Camylla Alves discovers the power of Afro-Contemporary dance to enable people to hear Mother Earth and to motivate other youth to review their decision to leave their community, and to remain in their historic land to defend the beauty and life of the Amazon.
“In fact, we began our research into ourselves”, explains Camylla (19), “through the songs of Mestre Zequinha, when we began the Rivers of Meeting project in 2008. In this way, we began recovering our roots and reinventing ourselves. But we were also inspired by the men and women od our Amazon, Maria Silva, Zé Claudio and Chico Mendes, to transform projects of death, like the hydroelectric dam, into projects of life, like solar energy.”.
“In the final scene”, explains Rafael Varão, co-coordinator of the micro-project ‘Leaves of Life’ which cultivates family libraries in the community, “we all leave our ancestral community, deceived by the stealer of dreams, believing that the best is only to be found abroad. It was so difficult to act the scene of leaving with our bags. We felt so much emotion, particularly in front of our own community, that is living the pressure to leave every day!”
The scene culminates with the rwelve youth singing the song ‘Stop the train, please, I want to get down’, written by Zequinha in 2014, and playing the agogô percussion instrument, symbol of the devastation of the huge Brazil Nut forests, but also of the capacity to hear Mother Nature and of the the option to take care of her, refusing the immediatism, corruption and ‘greed’ of the giants.
“Our little theatre in the square was packed”, Zequinha recalls with emotion, “with adults, youth and children from the community, teachers and collaborators from the city, aswell as artists from Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo researching the Araguaia guerrillas. Thanks to the courage of our youth, fruit of seven years of determination not to be brought down by the cynicism and jealousy of a minority, it is now possible to believe in alternatives like solar energy. Faced with drought, which appearsin the play, I hope our people wake up on time!”
AfroMundi Dance company woke up early on Sunday to perform its third new work, ‘Dry Tears’, in the new craft fair in Duke of Caxias Place, in Old Marabá.
“This Amazonian-Contemporary dance motivated diverse audiences in New York last April to ask ‘what can we do?’,” comments Dan Baron, one of the coordinators of the Rivers of Meeting project. “I doubted an audience of parents and children would want to watch such a serious play on a Sunday. It dramatizes the River Tocantins catching fire, the contemporary youth imagination in our region. An alert in favour of solar energy. But the audeince was fasinated and afterwards talked with the young dancers. We congratulate the Sercretart of Work, Community Action and Citizenship on this initiative and for creating a space of debate through culture.”
Rivers of Meeting now enters a phase of research and reflection before returning in July with the Summer Festival of its Community University of the Rivers. More information is available here!