By: Cristian J. Arvelo
As the music stops and as light slowly begins to fill the room, the audience is left in awe of what they just saw. As the dancers return to the stage to take their vows, the audience stands up and begins to clap and cheer the dancers after a marvelous performance. This was the scene in the Amphitheater Ramón Figueroa Chapel at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez after the performance of the ballet “Naked Bodies”on March 5.
The full name of the performance was Naked Bodies: Queer Worries Expressed Through Dance and Visual Arts (Cuerpos Desnudos: La Inquetitud Queer Expresada A Través de la Danza y las Artes Visuales) and it was part of the V Coloquio del Otro La’o: Perspectives sobre Sexualidades Queer.
The piece was directed by Elmer Pérez and it tells the story of a young heterosexual couple (Gabriel and Chacha) who seem to have a healthy relationship. This changes when Gabriel meets a young man named Carl, who he seems to be attracted to. This causes Gabriel’s relationship with Chacha to deteriorate as he begins to meet Carl secretly. These meetings continue until Chacha decides to speak to Carl and Gabriel about the state of their relationship. In the end Chacha lets Gabriel go and he begins a happy relationship with Carl.
The story is told entirely through dance and the music that accompanies it is a soft orchestral soundtrack that harmonizes with the dancing. There were four dancers who wore black leotards throughout the performance, with the exception of Gabriel who did not have a shirt on. Pérez said this is because “he wanted to show that this situation could happen to anybody we know or see.”
When director Elmer Pérez was asked what drove him to direct such a piece, he said that he had been trying to make a piece like this for a while but could never find the right place to do it, until he heard of the Coloquio.
“I wanted to show that this story is a common situation that can happen to anyone and has indeed happened to many people,” he added. Pérez believes that our society’s openness to homosexual relationships has improved but “it’ll take some time before society can truly accept it.”
Pérez is a professional dancer who founded Ballet Escenario in Mayagüez, a school that teaches young people the different disciplines of dance, in 2004. He also helped choreograph the opening and closing of the Central American Games in 2010.