Úumbal, Mariana Arteaga
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Úumbal: Nomadic Choreography for Inhabitants

Mariana Arteaga

Philadelphia is the choreographer. Its streets the setting. Its people the dancers.

U.S. Premiere!

Part of the 2019 Fringe Festival


Begins on 5th Street between Shunk and Oregon
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DescriptionAbout the ArtistsHappy Hour on the FringeInterviewVideos

September 7, 13 + 14, 2019

Winding through a South Philly neighborhood from 5th Street between Shunk and Oregon to Mifflin Square, Úumbal: Nomadic Choreography for Inhabitants is an ambulatory dance performance wholly created by the people of this city and enacted by residents representing its diverse population.

Choreographer Mariana Arteaga developed Úumbal (Mayan for “balance”) in response to an incident in 2014, when forty-three students disappeared from Ayotzinapa, Mexico, presumed murdered by criminal gangs or the authorities that enabled them. She watched as the Mexican government repressed the mass protests in the wake of the disappearance. If repression could be choreographed, she mused, so could freedom and joy. She saw in her practice of collective dance the opportunity to reclaim public space for pedestrians, for communities, for joy.

First performed in Mexico City, Úumbal makes its U.S. premiere as part of the 2019 Fringe Festival. Arteaga and her local collaborators set up collection points in various neighborhoods to solicit dance steps from everyday residents of Philadelphia. A group of local volunteers helped mold these contributions into a communal performance that includes movement, choreography, and choreographic actions in public spaces along the streets, parks, and sidewalks of South Philadelphia. Join as a nomadic companion and participate in this joyful procession.

Interested in performing in Úumbal? Learn more and sign up here.

“Mariana Arteaga thinks of enjoyment and happiness as a strategy of citizen resistance.” Acta poética (Mexico)

“I was obsessed with the idea of making a collective body visible, recovering the streets with the social power of dance, demanding the right of joy, the right to be happy together.” Mariana Arteaga


45 minutes

Conceived by Mariana Arteaga Assistant Director Sarah Gladwin Camp Choreographic Team Meg Foley, Rhonda Moore, Sophiann Moore, Jonathan Delgado-Melendez, and Jumatatu Poe

Photos by Antonieta López

Major support for Úumbal: Nomadic Choreography for Inhabitants has been provided by The William Penn Foundation.

Acknowledgments: Úumbal México, Museo Universitario del Chopo, Mariana Gándara, José Luis Paredes “Pacho”, Sarah Gladwin Camp, Edgar Ramírez, Mexican Consulate, Sarah Anton, Friends of Mifflin Square Park, and Philly residents!
Festival Executive Producers Salem Shuchman & Barbara Klock
Festival Co-Producer Jane G. Pepper

About Mariana Arteaga

Mariana Arteaga studied Social Communication at the Metropolitan Autonomous University Xochimilco in Mexico. She has worked internationally creating, directing and producing artistic projects, festivals, curatorships, and choreographies. She has also worked as a performer for various national and international choreographers. She has been invited as a curator and speaker at the Performing Arts Meeting in Yokohama, Japan, the Festival Cena Contemporânea in Brasilia to the Encounters of Cena, and the Tanzplattform in Germany.

She is the first Latin American to win the Visiting Fellows Program Grant awarded by the prestigious Saison Foundation in the category artistic director–curator, to promote the exchange, dissemination and collaboration in contemporary dance between Mexico and Japan. In recent years she has explored the choreographic work with citizenship. In 2015 she was invited by the Chopo University Museum to develop Úumbal: Nomadic Choreography for Inhabitants, a collective choreographic exploration in public space constructed for and by citizenship. Úumbal was selected by the prestigious art magazine La Tempestad as the best performing arts piece of that year. In 2017, she launched the #Uumbalenlared platform to share the artistic experience of this project and so it can be replicated. Her most recent works are Maravatío, Choreographic Score for Collective Care, Encounter and Play and her participation as a performer for the retrospective exhibition by Xavier Le Roy at the Jumex Museum. She continues working independently as an artistic director, choreographer, curator and as advisor for national and international developing contemporary dance and live arts projects for many independent and institutional initiatives, national and internationally.

For more info see her website.

Happy Hour on the Fringe

On the FringeArts podcast 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, the political and geographical considerations that have gone into this Philadelphia iteration, and how she is using dance to make a public statement to the world. Read the transcript on the FringeArts Blog, or listen below.

Interview with Mariana Arteaga

FringeArts: What do you like about walking through a city?

Mariana Arteaga: I like to be able to know and recognize my city (or other cities)—all the layers of the city that are not recognizable by car, or by just walking through it once. How the streets are designed, the people living in the neighborhoods, the social conditions—all these factors give me some kind of clarity about my city, my country, my context, the time we are living in. It is a vivid experience, and it influences my choreographic thinking. The body and its space are my themes, and many of my thoughts about my artistic practice take place while I’m walking.

FringeArts: What changes when you’re dancing through a city?

Mariana Arteaga: Dancing through a city provides an opportunity to redefine the idea of body and space. The body expands. Dancing through the city makes me feel the certainty of my idea of freedom. It might not be the same idea of freedom for others, but dancing collectively, I feel people share in this freedom. I get the opportunity to share with people the political negotiations between our bodies that aren’t obvious on a daily basis.

Another thing that really changes when dancing through a city is my imagination: I see new possibilities about the way we relate to and inhabit this world, how transformation is something that could happen—is happening. It might be an utopia, but I want and need to create the opportunity to realize this utopia, and to do so with others nurtures my soul.

FringeArts: In what ways does the piece reflect and embody the city in which it takes place?

Mariana Arteaga: Úumbal is constructed through, by, and for inhabitants of the city. First, through the step library we dialogue with body movements of the inhabitants, which exemplify their relationship with Philly.

The next phase is the knitter’s lab, where inhabitants of Philly help to construct the dances and choreographic actions with the choreographic team.

Then comes the third phase, which is setting up Úumbal with the inhabitants of this city. Every part of the piece is constructed by people who live in Philly, it is not an outside reflection.

Videos of Collected Steps

See more entries in the Úumbal step library at uumbal.fringearts.com.