Amelia Uzategui Bonilla Artistic Profile Research
“The Erotic as Destabilizing Vitality”

“The Erotic as Destabilizing Vitality” stems from Amelia's engagement with the Afro-Peruvian dances which she learnt as a child. Her involvement in creation-based dance companies such as Luis Antonio Vílchez’s Adú Proyecto Universal and Carmen Román’s Cunamacué cultivated her knowledge and practices further into her adult years. This research recognizes the transmission of Afro-Peruvian improvisational dance practices available through conversation, social practice, and literature.

As a student, Amelia learned several dance styles (landó, festejo, marinera, zapateo). These dances were passed down by generations of Afro-Peruvian musicians and dancers and later formulated into choreographies for the stage by artists such as Victoria Santa Cruz (1922-2014) and the internationally touring company, Perú Negro.

These dances were taught to Amelia as steps, which formed choreographies. However the history and social practice of these dances raise the importance and elusiveness of the Afro-Peruvian dances’ central element; improvisation. Amelia's U.S. American upbringing brought about a rationally-thinking mind that became perplexed and even fearful in these moments of improvisation. Notions of “feeling” the music, notably the Peruvian drum (el cajón), did not seem as precise as other Western dance techniques that the studied. She later realised that they must understand the music in a different way. As a Peruvian dancer in diaspora, they asks, what is improvisation from an Afro-Peruvian perspective and what is valued in this spontaneously-created movement beyond mimicry or virtuosity?

Within the Moving Margin’s platform, Amelia proposes to give care to her confused inner-teenager, reclaiming  the social and literary sources of her dance heritage, and rethinking the division between choreography and dance improvisation. They muses over the historical cultural baggage of racism in her family which implies that as a person of mixed African heritage, she did not learn to identify herself as black, but rather as white. She did not learn Quechua, spoken by her Grandfather in Huancayo but instead learned Spanish and other dominant languages. As a young adult, Amelia studied ballet and modern dance, not Festejo. Yet the foods that they ate and music that she listened to with her family are infused with Peru’s Afro-Indigenous presence.  

Racist power structures tend towards minimizing the contributions of Afro-Indigenous dance heritage. Thus, the Moving Margins research project is, for Amelia, a radical act of remembrance

Symposium Presentation
Citing dances that were re-interpreted and recreated in the Afro-Peruvian cultural revival movement of the second half of the 20th century, the presentation of this research seeks to invite movers into their creative selves, finding their own way of dancing to polyrhythmic musics, historical textbooks for negated cultural heritage. The archive is in the living bodies who create and recreate movement that responds to the music with all senses alive and present. In our current dance discourse, this may be called a score-based, somatic approach. Audre Lorde eloquently describes this from a Black Feminist understanding in the essay, “The Uses of the Erotic: the Erotic as Power.” These dances source feeling and sensing to the point of overriding society's imposed logic, seeking liberation. The act of recreating these dances with our contemporary bodies swerves the colonial practice of respecting tradition to the point of cementing them in a grave.

On and off stage, Amelia Uzategui Bonilla chambea para la descolonización de la danza and is currently based in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. She works alongside Mareike Uhl, co-leading Frankfurt's Tanzhaus Frankfurt Rhine-Main and guest lectures at the Frankfurt University for Music and Performing Arts. They seek to recognize negated stories from the African diaspora and Native communities in Abya Yala. Though she spent most of her professional years in the West, Amelia reclaims epistemologies from the South as part of their culture and artistic identity. She amplifies the work of collaborators and colleagues who destabilize the coloniality of power in “contemporary dance.”

List of links from above:

Antonio - Arts Innovator: Luis Antonio Vilchez, Peru - Americas Quarterly

Carmen - CubaCaribe 2017: Mis Manos, Cunamacué on Vimeo

Victoria - Victoria Santa Cruz | Hammer Museum (

Peru Negro - Eva Ayllón & Perú Negro - "Taita Guaranguito" - YouTube

Credit: Cunamacué's "Son de los Diablos" in Oakland, California, 2018. Photos by Jaime Lyons.

Moving Margins Chapter II
moving arti|facts from the margins of dance archives
into accessible scores and formats

- STEPPING OUT, funded by the Federal Government
Commissioner for Culture and Media with
in the
framework of the initiative NEUSTART KULTUR.
Assistance Program for Dance.