Apocalypso by Luara Raio at Black Box of Centro Cultural de Belém – CCB
Apocalypso is a performance conceptualised and directed by the dancer and choreographer Luara Raio, in a co-creation with the dancer and choreographer Acauã El Abandide Sereia. Set design is by Anat Bosak and lighting design by Luisa Labatte. The creative process began in December 2021 at the ICI-CCN-Centre Choreographique de Montpellier, as part of the Exerce Master degree of this institute. Apocalypso can be considered an object that questions the way we think about identity and the body. Here, identities are fluid rather than rigid, gender is self-determined rather than pre-determined. This performance took place on March 13 at the Black Box of Centro Cultural de Belém (CCB) at the festival Gaivotas ↔ Belém.
The understanding and experience of this performance cannot ignore the intimate and complicit relationship of the performers Luara Raio and Acauã Sereia. Their work is made of stories of life, survival and resistance. It embodies the thought of art and life as the same, developed during the 60s of the previous century. Luara and Acauã don’t work (or live) one without the other. Acauã took part in the creative process of Luara’s solos Raio Raio Lama Lama (Lisbon, 2019) and Manguba (Montpellier, 2020), while Luara partook in the creative process of Acauã’s solo Além de vocês o que tem pra comer hoje (Montpellier, 2021).
The way their bodies intertwine and loosen, how the interplay of voices and looks is developed – all this is key to giving body to the concept of Apocalypso. Through these qualities, they set up on the floor a small altar full of images and ornaments, candles and incense sticks. They invoke a certain religious and ritualistic atmosphere. Due to the performers’ political and social context, racialized queer Brazilian emigrants living in Europe, their imagery is very much influenced by the spirituality of Afro-Brazilian religions such as candomblé. The script for this scene is based on a nine-arcana tarot created by Luara. These arcana were conceived bearing in mind the materials and elements that pass through the body. One of these cards is Exu, a masculine orixá that represents the force of sexuality. The setting of this performance is highly vivid. The set and costume design are visually stimulating: eccentric colours in the make-up, costumes and various cloths/towels on the set. There is a curious detail: the lion and the lioness represented in the towel covering a wooden trunk and which, at the end of the play, is used as a flag. We cannot help but make the analogy between these animals and the animals of another condition that are on the stage. The symbolism of the lion and lioness fits very well with the performers. We can even imagine the representation of a lion-lioness being and associate it with the performers. The lighting is beautifully done. The various types of lights used explore different environments, intensities and shades. Placing microphones on the floor worked excellently. The sounds captured added proximity to the audience, stimulating its attention.
Luara mentions a space “where the walls soften”, where bodies begin “to sweat softly”, while their “orifices are lubricating themselves laxly”. Within the relationship between bodies, the mouth and saliva are of significant relevance to the movement build-up. The choreography is born here. Their faces are transfigured by the strong gestures they make on each other’s faces. A game that explores flexibility, pressure and relaxation of the muscles. Saliva drips everywhere and can be seen as the agglutinating and visceral element of the shared relationship. The bodies always move in symbiosis, the movement of one is always influenced by that of the other. The choreography attempts to explore the body’s metamorphosis and transformation, the relationship between human and animal, with philosophical and political questions about what is a human (body) being, what is an animal (body), what are their differences and similarities. It becomes evident that, like gender, they are things we directly influence, things we act upon. We cannot define or standardise them.
Apocalypso reminds us that “we are at a crossroads”, we need to be together and share our stories. In this performance, Apocalypso is thought of as a possibility to destroy the veils and fictions of colonialist ideology. In Luara’s words, this destruction seeks to activate the body as a “cross-cutting cartographic place, where performativity, spirituality, fiction and spell intersect and blur their boundaries.”