Note from BW of Brazil: Any person who has had any sort of interest in the situation of African descendants living under the domination of Europeans and their descendants has surely found in the 1952 Frantz Fanon classic Black Skin, White Masks a timeless work that continues to explain the roots of racial relations between black and white people still today. After reading chapters from the classic such as “The woman of color and the white man”, “The man of color and the white woman”, “The so-called dependency complex of the colonized” and “The lived experience of the black man” and then reading some of the posts on this blog, one could come to conclusion that Fanon must have lived in Brazil at some point in his life to have so accurately depicted the superior/inferior positions designated to the black and white people in Brazil.
Over the years, since studies of race on the part of Afro-Brazilians at the university level have vastly increased, numerous students have made reference to Fanon’s work in their attempts to explain Brazilian society from the racial perspective. Accordingly, Fanon’s name has appeared numerous times on this blog alone in the writings of a number of writers. Another topic that has popped up occasionally is Afro-Brazilian dance and theater companies that seek to bring the African aesthetic to stages across Brazil. So when I discovered that there was a dance group referencing Fanon’s work in their new spectacular, I immediately began to imagine a mesmerizing merging of the two entities. Below, check out a brief description of the stage production and a brief sample of what such a spectacle looks like. Enjoy!
Black Skin, White Masks: Based on the classic by Frantz Fanon, the Treme Terra Company presents spectacular of black dance based on studies of ethno-racial relations in Brazil
Courtesy of Conectedance, Flertaí, Teatro Sérgio Cardoso, Todos Negros do Mundo
Inspired by the book Pele Negra, Máscaras Brancas (Black Skin, White Masks) written by Frantz Fanon, Cia Treme Terra (Treme Terra Company) is presenting the unprecedented spectacular of black dance based on studies on ethno-racial relations in Brazil, drawing a parallel with the book Black Skin, White Masks, studies on the mythology of orixás and personal experiences reported in testimonials by the artists of the cast. In this work, the book is used as the main triggering material for choreographic and musical compositions.
The Cia. Treme Terra is debuting in São Paulo Pele Negra, Máscaras Brancas, with general direction by João Nascimento and Firmino Pitanga. The spectacular celebrates the group’s ten years. It is a collective creation, inspired by Frantz Fanon’s eponymous book.
Pele Negra, Mascaras Brancas is the result of two years of research that deepens the theme presented in Terreiro Urbano, the group’s previous spectacular, about the movements of the orixás, their mythologies, and archetypes. “We have created amalgamated scenes that discuss racism in the face of sociocultural pathology and rituals of healing inspired by the manifestations of the candomblé terreiros, based on a contemporary and urban re-reading,” says João Nascimento, director and one of the founders of the company.
Fanon’s work became a reference for anti-colonialist movements and black movements in the Americas. Although it has been more than half a century since its writing, it is one of the classics of black literature that still raises an important reflection on the white masks that have been maintained in current Brazilian society and others that have appeared in the last decades. The author and psychoanalyst Frantz Fanon approaches the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized from the psychological perspective, demystifying the inferiority complex.
“The spectacle was born from the need to identify and discuss some of the traumas experienced by black men and women in modern society, highlighting in the montage the masks used as a means of survival against the various forms of oppression and acceptance in the everyday life of social relations,” reports Nascimento.
He adds that Dança Negra Contemporânea (Contemporary Black Dance), an artistic production style of body movement used to bring these socio-racial issues to the stage, is an ideal language since it is “marked by a predominantly Brazilian aesthetic from African matrices.”
Pele Negra, Máscaras Brancas has in the music performed live a strong characteristic, becoming a trademark of the shows of Cia Treme Terra. “In this work, the copyrighted and public domain music dialogues constantly, sometimes as protagonists, sometimes as co-protagonists of the dance movements, contributing to the construction of narratives and scenic dramaturgies,” explains Nascimento. A musical album of the company is in final phase of production, with release scheduled for the beginning of 2017.
The assembly also features the participation of the plastic artist Achiles Luciano, who interacts live with digital projection, composing the environment of the scenic performance from the tool called Tagtools. The costumes were created by Silvana Marcondes, while the set design was created by Julio Dojcsar.
The cast of Treme Terra brings together Andrus Santana, Beatriz Cristina, Luciano Virgílio, Luiz Negresco, Malu Avelar, Terená Kanouté, Tito Nascimento, Thiago Bilieri, Daniel Pretho, Afroju Rodrigues, João Nascimento, Junior Santiago, Pedro Henrique, Guilherme Frattini, Paulinho Paes and Bira Nascimento.
Cia. Treme Terra was born 10 years ago on the outskirts of the West Zone of São Paulo. Having performed in large venues such as Olido Gallery, MASP Auditorium, Aditório Ibirapuera, among many others, this company presents in an art form the history of povo negro (black people) and the roots that are within us. The group is concerned with research in Contemporary Black Art and has already given about 15 workshops of Black Dance and Afro-Brazilian Music in Germany and Bulgaria, where went with the Terreiro Urbano spectacular.
In order to compose the show Black Skin, White Masks the artists, besides drawing inspiration from the book, used studies on ethnic-racial relations in Brazil, on the mythology of the orixás and to give a more realistic and contemporary air the experiences of the cast itself. It is well worth checking out the show and honoring the Company that has represented black culture on stage for a decade.