Happy Hour on the Fringe: Conversation with Mariana Arteaga
On this episode of Happy Hour on the Fringe, we share a drink with Mexican public practice artist Mariana Arteaga. Mariana is the artistic force behind Úumbal: Nomadic Choreography for Inhabitants, and she shares the original inspiration for the piece when it premiered in Mexico City. Now, part of the 2019 Fringe Festival in September, Úumbal is an exercise in meeting, recognizing, and celebrating a community gathered for the joy of movement and exploring new ways of moving through public space. The choreography of Úumbal is developed of, by, and for Philadelphia residents who donated their best dance moves to the project, and crafted by Mariana and a local choreographic team. Úumbal: Nomadic Choreography for Inhabitants runs September 7, 13 & 14 as part of the 2019 Fringe Festival.
Listen to the episode and read the transcript below.
Feature Photo by Alejandra Carbajal
Conversation with Mariana Arteaga
Raina: Hello and welcome to Happy Hour on the Fringe. FringeArts is Philadelphia’s premier presenter of contemporary performing arts. I am Raina Searles, Marketing Manager here at FringeArts.
Tenara: And I’m Tenara, I’m the Audience Engagement Coordinator at FringeArts. We invite you to pour one up and enjoy our conversations with some of the most imaginative people on this plane of existence.
Raina: Now, at the time this episode comes out, summer is in full swing at FringeArts. We have our free outdoor movie series featuring popular hits every Wednesday at 8:30, in our beer garden. We have Happy Hour deals from La Peg with a beautiful view of the water front. And, we on the FringeArts staff are working hard to make sure the 2019 Fringe Festival is ready to launch this September.
Tenara: So, today, we’re excited to be chatting with one of the artists who will be helping us launch the 2019 Fringe Festival with an exciting participatory dance piece on the heels of Le Super Grand Continental from 2018. Today, we’re talking with Mariana Arteaga who’s doing … Can you say the name of your piece?
Raina: Welcome, Mariana.
Mariana: Thank you very much for receiving me here, Raina and Tenara. And FringeArts, of course.
Raina: So, our first question that we always have to ask is, what are we all drinking for this episode of Happy Hour on the Fringe?
Mariana: Definitely coffee. I am addicted to. I’m having coffee because I already had some lunch and every time I eat I need my coffee after.
Tenara: Yeah, it’s one of those post meal stupors that you go into and, it’s like ready for a nap. Yeah, I feel that. I’m drinking water.
Raina: Yeah. I’m having, I’m in all natural Snapple. Takes Two To Mango tea. So, a very fruity flavor today.
Tenara: Amazing. Cool. We’re talking about Úumbal today. Can you tell us a little bit about where, where the idea for Úumbal came from.
Mariana: Úumbal was a response to a political situation that I was having in my country, Mexico. I mean, I like, I collect thinking as a Mexican citizen, I don’t know if you’re familiar, there were 43 students that disappeared and they were from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero. And first the first idea was my reflection about a body that is not visible anymore, and what does it say? Which is, for me, one of the greatest ways of torturing a country. And this idea of disappearance and this idea of not finding where this part is. So my reflection was about how important it was to make a body visible. And also it has to do with a conversation with virtual territory and geographic territory with bodies that are virtual and bodies that are walking in the streets.
Mariana: And this idea that also these bodies disappearing being seen physically in the space and public space. And at the same time when this happened, there were some demonstrations in my city against these phenomena that happened, this disappearance. And I notice during the demonstrations that there were a policeman or military groups being able to encapsulate part of the demonstration. And I noticed that it was really well rehearsed and choreographed.
Mariana: Choreographed and so it made me think about the power of choreography, whether you use it to be repressive, but maybe also I remember about some other kind of choreographic demonstrations that have made a great impact in our global history, which was for example, the Standing Man protest in Turkey in 2013. So I had these two comparative ways of making a statement through choreography. So this my field – my field is dance and choreography so, I thought that if there were policemen that could make this all choreography in order to repress the others, what about if we could rehearse a citizens ways of freedom or ways of organizing ourselves and to make a visible, collected body that organizes and that inhabits the public space in a different way. That’s how Úumbal was born as a nomadic choreography for inhabitants.
Tenara: Can you give our audience a little context? I think we in the states probably heard about 43 disappeared students, but we may not know the deep political things that were going on in Mexico. These were college students.
Mariana: Yeah. They were studying to become teachers and they were trying to make some protest. Now the thing is, I have to remember because I don’t want to give out wrong information.
Mariana: The information, what I hear about this, they wanted, they stole or they took from some bus companies, tourist bus companies, some buses in order to come to Mexico and make this big protest, like every year for the killing of students in the ’68, right? So, that happened. Some people were warned about it. So, some policeman and militaries formed a zone and would try to stop these students for going or taking these buses, right? But the way of doing it, like, they stop two buses in the way they crossed in front of the buses and they wouldn’t let them go on. But one of the buses was like going around and when they captured these students, this last bus, they were supposed to take these students to one kind of police station and one part and in the way of delivering these students to that part, they disappeared and nobody knows where they are.
Mariana: At the same time when they stopped the first two buses there were some confrontations and two students were killed already in the confrontations. I will like to just to have accurate look –
Tenara: Yeah, that’s fine, definitely.
Mariana: To say that what I’m saying is absolutely true. But, it’s going to be a longer story in terms of the – this idea is kind of cris-crossed also with the Narco war that the criminal organizations that are in Mexico, because there is like this agreement between militaries, Narco power and they have control everything. So ,we had been in this for the last 12 years in these kinds of situation that people would disappear and then there would be found later on in this, I don’t know how to say it in English, that you create this collective –
Mariana: Graves, yes.
Raina: Oh, okay.
Mariana: So, in all these 12 years, like thousands, thousands of people having killed had disappeared and till now they are starting to discover new grave-sites. Yeah.
Mariana: So, but this was, so this was the frame. So what happens that of course we know there is a frame where the students can’t go out of the law, right? But at the same time, the way of solving this is for this kind of violence and extreme violence, which is disappearing the bodies and till now nobody knows where the bodies are.
Mariana: Yeah. So they were allegedly taken into custody. Like it says on September 26, 2014, 43 male students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teacher’s College were forcibly taken and then disappeared in Iguala. So yes, they were organizing to go to this demonstration in Mexico City. That would take place October the second and there is a saying from 1968 until now, we do not forget after second and there was a massive killing of students who are in the protest of the ’68 in a very important public square in Mexico City that is called the Three Cultures Square, which in Spanish is Plaza de las Tres Culturas.
Mariana: So people every year we’ll go there and say “we do not forget”, right? So they were illegally taken into custody by local police members from Cocula and Iguala, but it is said that he was needing collusion with this organized crime, right?
Tenara: Oh, I see.
Raina: I guess just to kind of clarify, was the problem that they stole the buses or was it that they were going to protest?
Mariana: I think no, it’s not a way of going to the protest, it has to do with that kind of political geographical tensions in Guerrero where they are from. Guerrero is called Tierra Caliente. So it has, it is kind of warrior state.
Mariana: And also some kind of nobody’s land. So is it well known that the police people, and as I said in narco power, would always work, assemble and so create their own kind of law.
Mariana: So, and this kind of a violence pattern that increases, with the rival or with the – not the rival, but opening up this narco power groups so everybody could know when this happened and the disappearance between the transporting these students from Cocula to another place that this way of disappearance has to do with this complexity. But this complexity, it’s not only about the ’68, it’s about power, it’s about money. It’s about the geographical place where Guerrero is. It has to do with the history of Guerrero. So yeah, I mean, the story’s pretty much as I said it to you, I was absolutely right, but I think I didn’t say it properly.
Tenara: No, It’s okay.
Mariana: So, what am I going to like kind of read it to you. Yeah. They, they were intended to travel to Mexico City to celebrate is no, not celebrate, commemorate the annual story of the 1968. So, the local police attempted to intercepted these buses.
Tenara: Again, because they had stolen the buses?
Mariana: Yeah, they have taken and that there is a practice by students that is kind of –
Raina: Is that common?
Mariana: It kind of also global thing. It’s not that we do it every day or like, oh yeah, they’re gonna take and then when they return back. No, but there is a practice in these university students that sometimes they might do that. The thing is that during that time there are so many gaps about what happened and who has information of where are they? And that’s the question, like where are they? Because there was like, for example, after a while there was so much social pressure about this that they said that they had found like this kind of grave, collective grave. So there was a group of forensics from Argentina. They’re really specialize people and they came to, you know, make tests and they said no, these are not the bodies. Still.
Raina: They’re just other bodies.
Mariana: And yeah, still they were other bodies, right?
Raina: So, the government’s response was to try and say that they had them even when they didn’t?
Mariana: Yeah. And there’s this kind of thing of we are doing the best that we can. We cannot find it but you don’t see like, they really working on finding out what happened. So yeah, I mean there were special groups, so the narco, they are located specifically in Guerrero, their group of power that controls locally and they are always, or almost all the time your relationship with the governor or the mayor or with the right in during times of this happened, during the times of Enrique Peña Nieto’s presidency. I think what is more, how can I say? This layer, or the layer underneath it is that, this is a story that is exhausting as society because it’s not the first time.
Mariana: And so imagine a society that is this receiving this kind of information or this kind of sensation of that you are living in, like no law at all and suddenly the happens to the promise of a Mexico of the future for students. Not that all lives are not important, but it’s like a symbolic thing and it’s very clear that they have disappeared.
Mariana: I think it has to do with the story how we name things and the importance of naming the things that are happening. So for me also these 43 students were not like only the 43. It was a way of naming all the thousands of bodies that had disappeared before. Like to make something, to embody something where ewe can create to support them but also all these bodies. So like it was the first time in my life I would see every day like demonstrations through demonstrations and demonstration and it was like – the streets of one of the main avenues in Mexico like packed full of people doing these protests.
Mariana: But it was the state of the nation, right? It was the state of the citizens. And it was, it was urgent to manifest this, anger and also this grief, it’s very important to grieve. But, at the same time, I think there was so much anxiety because you are only able to really grieve when you have certainty of that a body’s death
Mariana: While the body’s not death and it has just disappeared, and it in this kind of limbo that is not alive and it’s not death. So, how can you process that? And I think to be able to be conscious of that as a society that made us protest in this way. And for me also what happened is that I had never left my city in that way. It’s funny when I have never lived in war conditions, in other kind of political conditions and more extreme, but that doesn’t mean we’re not living in a very violent situation or we haven’t been living.
Mariana: But I hadn’t been very conscious of how this could affect us until that moment that, for the first time I’ve felt my city that is full of life, sad and undermine it.
Raina: Undermined, yeah.
Mariana: And it was a shock for me because, I would watch these videos at the demonstrations and everything what was happening. I was watching this in Japan, I was doing this artistic residency. So, for me, like arriving and just walking through the streets and feeling dizzy with like, “What’s going on?” It was very unique and sad and the sadness takes power to people.
Tenara: I think a lot about the kind of eruption of action and protest and an urgency that happened after Parkland. The school shooting in Parkland High School. That’s not coming from the state, which is different than the situation you’re describing. But similarly it’s violence enacted against students, the future of tomorrow. And what came out of it was the most – I mean, I don’t think that in my life as I have experienced consistent school and public space shootings in the United States, like the news of them, I haven’t felt that kind of – I felt like after the kindergartners, we were just all depressed. Like none of us could do anything about it.
Tenara: And like just the deep, deep sadness. And then after Parkland all of a sudden, because the students themselves were then starting this –
Raina: Speaking out.
Tenara: Yeah, they were speaking out. That felt similarly, like there’s something really electric happening that then pulls at the threads of all the states of the nation. If we’re talking about this, we have to talk about lobbying. We have to talk about racism. We have to talk. Like it just, it made us all start talking about things and yeah. Yeah. I’m resonating a lot with what you’re saying.
Mariana: The other thing that I didn’t discover, but later on, six months later, I will get there. It has to do with how does a collective lives you. So those were, I mean that was the situation, with the Ayotzinapa students. But as you can see, the situation itself reflects other historical, political realities that we were carrying out by that moment. Like everybody was like, “Oh”. Yeah. So, that was the situation.
Tenara: So can you tell us a little bit about Úumbal and the design of the piece as a way of pushing against the invisibility of these bodies?
Mariana: Yeah. I thought that our response had to be in different layers. First, against the disappearance is the appearance of a body and the appearance susceptible of a voice, a collective body. So I thought that the public space would be the place to do that and to take this kind of structure of doing things in the street, and to go through streets as our way of protesting.
Mariana: But at the same time, I thought that the idea of the rehearsed, the possibilities as a society to imagine ourselves living differently and like the only way of being a counter part of that would it be to kind of empower us and to take care of the other and to have agreements and to be able to negotiate and to be able to perceive and to be in public space in different ways that a demonstration is, right?
Mariana: Like we had to rehearse this possible ways of meeting each others. So there is this, other woman, really admired that is Hannah Arendt and she said freedom is also rehearsed. So, that was resonating with me very much this like phrase. I was like, yeah, we have to practice our own freedom and we have to feel what could that be? That made me think of structure of a nomadic choreography. Not a choreography that was going to be in a square where it’s meant to be when you’re doing this big festivals or celebration. We needed to be walking through the streets and dancing.
Mariana: Dancing is the way I communicate things. And also dancing for me was a way of recovering this power and the power of joy to be able to confront things. There is something very magical about this, this idea of living collective joy as a way of power. This idea of power to the people.
Mariana: But I really believed in that, because I had been doing some other collective choreographic works and I had witnessed it in them and in myself. The fact of that and the fact of that is that I was willing to be with others and to negotiate and to enjoy of the other and to trust the other. So I was talking in this global way, but I was very interested in the micro revolutions and in the micro politics.
Mariana: That’s for me where the things could lead us to little fractures that eventually will come in some kind of change. I’m not thinking in any like big pictures of – I do not believe in this kind of thing. I think because of our social economic health system, global system, that’s not that possible. So that’s why I was interested in this kind of micro politics. So if I say like, if we can expand it 50, 60 people or something, it’s gonna be great.
Mariana: And it’s going to be great just the fact that there will be 50 or 60 people willing to do that. It’s just like, so that’s another thing. And also this idea of if we were going to do a collective statement, then even if I had to say yeah, or if I could guide the project, the boys should be collective. So I say I’m not going to tell the others to dance my dance steps because, then they’re only talking about me.
Mariana: So how can I do it too to make it collective and to listen to the voices of everybody. That’s why I thought like, well that’s the steps of the people would be our raw material. That’s how the first phase was born. And then that thing led to the other. Like, say yeah, and the construction should be the same. The choreographic construction should not only be lived by me or by a choreographic team, but also by citizens.
Mariana: And it’s also a way to be needing and recovering some kind of power that you will acknowledge or you will recognize that you know and you didn’t know, that you know. And then third phase would be like calling to these other 50 citizens that will like to be part of this project.
Raina: So I’m curious, this piece has such like resonant meaning in Mexico City and with kind of all the history around the politics, what does it mean to bring this piece to Philadelphia and how do you translate meaning, or how do you find new meaning in building this with Philadelphia residents who, you know, don’t have that same kind of political history.
Mariana: It’s interesting because that doesn’t mean there is a political discussion going on right now. You’re right in terms that it’s a different one. What resonates with me and that the thing that made me want to do the project outside Mexico was a conversation about diversity.
Mariana: Some kind of racial encounter or dis-encounter maybe, that I could even sense walking the city. And, FringeArts say like, “we are very interested in a project like yours because community.” And I say, “yeah”, but the discussion is political, like I say, the origin of part of this. So we’ve got a long conversation and I say like, “we really think that we need some kind of way of encountering each other.” And there are Latinos, African Americans or white people. There are immigrants from Puerto Rico, Honduras, Cambodia, Vietnam, you know? And, in a way there are not like points of encounter maybe between all these people. Right. So, that was the political discussion. And for me, it was like lights there because as a Mexican I do also reflect a lot about this immigrant condition and its relationship with, the United States.
Mariana: And of course in this presidency is more, how can I say it? Tense. It’s more tense right now. Yeah. And we start our relation with the idea of getting out of the country to have a better future and what happens and what is the life of these immigrants here? So these are the things that I was really interested. I was really interested to find some kind of social dialogue conversation that we could work in. which doesn’t mean that of course we’re going to achieve it like that, right?
Mariana: Like, I mean, we still don’t know it. But for me, what made me say I want to be in Philly is intention. We have to start from one point. And the point is to be open to that intention and to work through that intention. It might happen, it might not happen, but that consciousness and then in the process to be learning what it takes to have that conversation. It gives us clues, reality clues of how to need better those bridges, to have the conversation.
Tenara: Do you find that Philadelphians are open to that intention so far, in your awareness?
Mariana: So far it’s been very interesting because I am like, my first approaches are with FringeArts team and with a choreographic team that is from Philadelphia. So in terms of human beings, like in terms of the space, it’s another conversation. I will go first with the people.
Tenara: The people.
Mariana: Well, first is the FringeArts team that they are the ones calling me. They have this urge, this intention, this desire of going towards there, which I really like in terms of that Úumbal is not in the regular production – performing arts production system because it’s a long term peace, it’s not made in 15 days or one month. It takes time and time is what makes it possible. Now, what I found is that FringeArts is also learning through this project a lot of things and that for me is the most palatable thing because it’s opening these reflections and this conversation in our FringeArts, I believe. I think I have this perception.
Tenara: You’re right. Yeah, I would say you’re right
Raina: Yeah, we’re learning a lot.
Mariana: So, with the choreographic team, I think it’s – the learning process for me has been different. First, because I ask clearly, I ask a diverse group that if we were going to have a conversation like this, I needed in the group a diverse group. It’s been interesting. Of course this choreograph team is really open. For some reason they were interested and they are working. They are also speaking out loud about the tensions about the neighborhoods and about the way a body moves, for example.
Mariana: And what power or un-empower body it might represent for a Latino than from African American, then from a white American, right? So this kind of dialogue and conversation is just giving me a side, a perception of a difference. Like there’s difference between though all these people, but it has become more clear through the neighborhoods.
Mariana: Not for the people that I’m working with side by side, but with the neighborhoods is the geographically designed city that barely is and what are the streets telling you? The way it’s organized, the street, how the houses are, the people that are outside of houses, how do they see us when we are walking around. And that is, in a way, giving me some disconnection. What talks about the city as it is, disconnection in terms that there is, only in a few places, there is this crossing intersection of conversations of our diversities.
Tenara: Philly is very segregated.
Mariana: That’s my perception so far. So, I think that definitely is not a process that a product like this will achieve. Like, “oh yeah, we made it.” Like, it’s so complex and it has to do with distribution of power, it has to do –
Mariana: It’s a conversation of race and a lot of conversation it has come out is gentrification conversation that is changing a lot of things. But, also that gentrification is related to race.
Mariana: So far this reception about people, I still don’t know. I’m in that moment that I’m just perceiving only, and it’s in a very, very early stage. But what I have to say there has been for me really like a wake up call and I don’t know if the choreographic team is aware of that, is what has happened in the neighborhoods when people see three African Americans, one Latina and one white American walking together.
Tenara: This is you and the choreographic team?
Mariana: So for example, that little example, it has been very interesting. Just the fact to see four or five people walking together and walking now, because we are walking to go to one place to the other because we need to work, but we’re just walking the neighborhood.
Mariana: And that is something that mainly people are like watching like, what is this? It’s not common. And that tells you so much. And in some neighborhoods that could be seen as, what? Like, what are you doing here? Like are we your curiosity? Like, this kind of a little bit defensive way. What, are you like, why do you want to come here and change the world, kind of. And another is just to an observation. And in others it’s a lot of curiosity, maybe. So, but like for example that it says so much about the idea of what a city is like, or how is it organized? What kind of conversations are needed? Also talks about the idea of walking, the use of walking. The abstract idea of walking, something I can see people, I feel like use a lot their cars versus walking.
Mariana: So that’s an interesting reflection for me. These are the things that I’m learning. And the other thing that I’m very happy about is that even the choreographic team hadn’t been in many places that we walked through.
Tenara: That’s great.
Mariana: And that tells me a lot about how a person maybe that lives in Philly, relates to the geographical space. Maybe it reduces too specific points and not very much moving from there. It’s a way of organizing life. But it’s interesting because everything is crossed by economy by cultural thing. Maybe.
Raina: I think it is really interesting because like I went to school in West Philly and obviously FringeArts is in Old City and when I was in college I would come to Center City, I’d come to Old City. And so when, now I still live in West Philly because I was kind of like looking for housing and I was like, well I know this area.
Raina: And so I kind of stayed in West Philly and like even now, just thinking about like the Market Frankfort line is like my go-to. But that doesn’t really include the Broad Street line. Like, I’m still learning about South Philly, North Philly, Fishtown areas, like all that’s still very new to me. And so, I think one thing that’s really cool about the Fringe Festival is that I get to go to so many different shows in different neighborhoods, but even that is like I might just be driving there. I don’t usually walk to a specific location and kind of explore the full neighborhood around that place.
Tenara: It was the Fringe Festival that that taught me the geography of Philadelphia, because when I moved to Philadelphia in 2016, I moved in August and the festival started a month later, and I just decided that I was going to see like four shows a week and I would get on my bike and I would just, I’d be like, I don’t even know where I am right now, but because I was like on my way to see a show, I really got to know how the city was laid out. And, so I would go to see shows. Like I lived in West Philly at the time too. And so I would go to see shows in Old City, but also in North Philly and also in South Philly and just like all over the place.
Tenara: And it’s, yeah, there aren’t a lot of occasions that people have to move on a map that is different then like, here’s where I live, here’s where I work, here’s where my friend lives, here’s where my gym is, here’s my favorite restaurant. And, that’s like it. You know? Those points on the map and the most frequented and so it’s not very common for people to have reasons to have to go out into different spaces.
Mariana: Definitely. I think it tends to happen in big cities. Cities at like for example in Mexico City that might happen because it’s so big. The city is so big. But anyway, the range of movement of, or transportation, is wider than I have found here.
Tenara: What, the Mexico City’s public transportation is –
Mariana: Like, the people in Mexico City, we tend to go a little bit further. I can say, but, and it’s not that I’m criticizing something, I’m just saying that we have a different cultural approach maybe and maybe also it is crossed with economical condition, of course. But like the phenomena itself is that we move more through the city.
Tenara: Well, I think there’s also something that’s a little bit lifestyle about it too because like I think about – Philly is really so big. Like, Germantown and Mount Airy. Those are…Glenside–
Raina: Those are part of Philly.
Tenara: –Those are neighborhoods in Philadelphia, but they’re so far away and they’re so inaccessible by public transportation. The people who end up living there are people who are older or have families or commute in their cars to work. And I just think a lot about people that I know that live in those suburbs, that is still technically Philadelphia, their lifestyle also means that they move on a different map because they drive different places. And, to me to go out there, it’s like that’s so far away. It’s like going to a different state because then I’m just like on my bike and I’m going from West Philly to Old City. I’m like, I can’t go out there, you know? But it’s like, actually the city is enormous and so, and the kinds of lifestyles that different geographies promote, it’s just so different.
Mariana: And I also, my reflection it’s about like, it’s not the first time that I listened to this comment about some cities in the United States that do not have a very good public transportation system. And in Mexico we had kind of have the opposite. We have really good transportation system that connects everything with everything. The only thing that we have more people than the public transportation. I mean like our prop one, the connection lines.
Tenara: There are too many people.
Mariana: But, that there’s not enough, way too many people and yeah, that would be the problem, but that makes us be able to go to different places.
Tenara: And Philadelphia’s public transportation really is commuter. Everything is pointing in the direction of Center City to get from West Philly to South Philly, even though the most direct route would be like southwest or southeast, you know you have to go and straight into center city and then straight down. I couldn’t go from West Philly to Germantown very easily. I mean, there is the commuter rail but it, but again it’s like only connecting these neighborhoods to the center of the city.
Mariana: And then there was another reflection for me, which is about the city and compared to my city that it has other kind of political layers, is that our transportation system is public. It’s from the state and here it’s a private, subsidized private, right?
Raina: Is your public transportation free?
Mariana: No, but the state is the one in charge of handling everything
Tenara: Isn’t the set up – I don’t know.
Mariana: What I have learned –
Raina: I really don’t I think SEPTA is a private company but I think it’s like with – like very much in conjunction. But yes, SEPTA is its own.
Mariana: It’s managed by private company and that Mexico is like, there is a secretary like in Mexico City, that mobility secretary and that’s in charge of –
Tenara: It’s state created, like the state created it? We’re currently Googling, friends at home. One of the choreographer’s told you that it was privately owned?
Mariana: Privately managed
Tenara: Privately managed, that would not surprise me. Everything here is private.
Mariana: And so public, in terms of that it’s run the state, but it’s also managed by the state.
Tenara: Yeah, got it.
Mariana: There is not a private company managing the Metro subway or something, no.
Raina: We just have two final questions.
Tenara: You can make them snappy.
Raina: So, we’re really curious. Where did the name Úumbal come from?
Mariana: Oh, Úumbal came from a Mayan tongue from the Mayans that are in the south of Mexico. So Úumbal means balancing like to do that balance. But I didn’t even look for the word because of the meaning but because how it sounded. Úumbal! So I was thinking it was like a call to war, and I was so angry at that time, that I needed a sound, and I didn’t want to have this artistic name, the flock, or like the like this thing that is recognizable. I just wanted something that nobody knew what it was like, but just saying it would provoke something.
Tenara: I mean it really is quite provocative. Like even an English to say Úumbal: Nomadic Choreography for Inhabitants. People were like, “what’s that?”
Mariana: Yeah, actually yeah.
Tenara: So our last question for you, what are your highbrow inspirations and your low brow inspiration?
Raina: Yeah, so like we can say, what are your high class like fancy –
Tenara: Intellectual, fancy.
Raina: Those kinds of inspirations. And then what’s just like your –
Mariana: In terms of culture, art or something like that?
Raina: Yeah, it could be –
Tenara: Like, give a lowbrow inspiration for yourself.
Raina: So, I will say a highbrow one. Well, actually, I always go back and forth. I think Shakespeare is a little bit both highbrow and lowbrow, but this idea of high art and artists who inspire you. And then lowbrow is like, what’s that trash TV show that you like watching?
Raina: I don’t know. Something just really basic.
Mariana: Oh okay. My highbrows are, I have so many.
Tenara: You’re such a classy person.
Mariana: I am, I’m sorry, I am. I love architecture. I’m inspired by Architects, such as like Juhani Pallasmaa, kind of techs or this group from Japan called Zhanna or Kengo Kuma architect. I could go on and on about architects because I do love architecture like, it’s an inspiring part but for me. I’m inspired by some kinds of music, different kinds of music. My like high what?
Tenara: Your eyebrow.
Mariana: There is a group from Columbia. They’re doing very traditional Columbia, somebody had something like really earth and so truth. So that could be like a high level inspiration as choreographers that maybe I also admire a lot or I have admired at some point. Or the other directors as I’m forgetting the name, my God, Philip King, we got in studio. Somebody that inspires me for example. And my lowbrow-
Mariana: Definitely, definitely bloopers from Saturday Night Live.
Tenara: I love that that is your lowbrow.
Mariana: Oh my God. I can spend hours and bloopers from some TV series. I like, there’s nothing better for me. That scene character that breaks the character.
Raina: I love that.
Mariana: I’m so –
Tenara: I’m resonating with that so much.
Mariana: I’m so obsessed, like sometimes like I can feel down and I would be like watching chapters of like bloopers forever of some series and Saturday Night Live to see characters losing it. Like, Ryan Gosling, I remember one that it was great. Or, I remember or segments of Saturday Night Live, there was these things that I called the Californians.
Tenara: Yes, I know that one very well, Mariana.
Mariana: I would you just be like, I mean I am Mexican, I don’t have the American culture, but it’s so funny that I would be repeating it, I just love it, California.
Tenara: That’s how they actually talk. That’s how Californians really talk.
Mariana: That is my lowbrow. No, that would be like, yeah.
Tenara: That’s a good answer.
Raina: So, thank you so much for joining us on this episode of Happy Hour on the Fringe. It was great to have you.
Mariana: Thank you.
Raina: And make sure to follow Úumbal all around Philadelphia September 7th and 8th [Editor’s note: dates have since been updated to September 7, 13 + 14] and you can follow FringeArts on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. And make sure to download the FringeArts app ahead of the Fringe Festival this year.