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

From an ongoing engagement with the Afro-Peruvian dances I learned as a child, later cultivated as a teenager and furthermore as an adult with creation-based dance companies such as Luis Antonio Vílchez’s Adú Proyecto Universal and Carmen Román’s Cunamacué, this research recognizes the transmission of Afro-Peruvian improvisational dance practices available through conversation, social practice, and literature.

As a practicing student, I learned several dance styles (landó, festejo, marinera, zapateo which were passed down by generations of Afro-Peruvian musician/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. Most of the time, the dances were taught to me as steps and put together in choreographies, but their history and social practice bring up the importance and elusiveness of the Afro-
Peruvian dances’ central element, improvisation. My US-raised, rationally-thinking mind became perplexed and even fearful in these moments. Notions of “feeling” the  music and the Peruvian drum (el cajón) did not seem as precise as other Western dance
techniques I studied in parallel. I later realized that I needed to understand the music in a different way. As a Peruvian dancer in diaspora, I ask, what is improvisation from an Afro-Peruvian perspective? and what is valued in this spontaneously-created movement  beyond mimicry or virtuosity?

With the Moving Margin’s group, I proposed to give care to my confused inner-teenager, reclaim the social and literary sources of dance heritage, and rethink the division between choreography and dance improvisation. I also willingly complicated myself with the historical cultural baggage of racism in my family which produced that as a person of mixed African and Indigenous heritage, I did not learn to identify myself as Black, but rather as white. I did not learn Quechua as my Grandfather spoke it in Huancayo; I learned Spanish and other dominant languages. As a young adult, I professionalized in ballet and modern dance, not festejo. Yet the foods I ate and music I listened to with my family are infused with Peru’s Afro-Indigenous presence. As a researcher, I cannot ignore that this dance heritage was meant for me to forget and contribute to more well-documented body performativities. In this way, for me the Moving Margins research is 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 their 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 ID_Frankfurt's ID_Tanzhaus Frankfurt Rhine-Main and guest lectures at the Frankfurt University for Music and the Performing Arts. They seek to recognize negated stories from the African diaspora and Native communities in Abya Yala. Though professionalized 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.