Amor a la Muerte
Amor a la Muerte (Love to Death) is a dance and musical work that presents the personal stories of the Mapuche people.
Love to Death (Amor a la muerte). Courtesy the artist
Amor a la Muerte (Love to Death) is a multidisciplinary show that involves theatre, dance and opera. It was created by the MAU Mapuche theatre company and Samoan choreographer and theatre director Lemi Ponifasio. In this production, Mapuche singer-songwriter Elisa Avendaño Curaqueo and Chilean flamenco dancer Natalia García-Huidobro weave their voices and bodies in a ceremony that presents their personal stories, which reflect Chile's history and global themes of environmental justice and indigenous rights.
The creation of Amor a la Muerte was sparked by the 2018 murder of 24-year-old Camilo Cantrillanca, who was a Mapuche farmer and student activist. Camilo was killed by the national anti-terrorism unit, which erased body-camera footage to cover up the malfeasance. Camilo was the fourth Mapuche killed by the police since 2002, and his death spurred protests across Chile. However, Amor a la Muerte is not about history, politics or Mapuche culture. Instead, it explores grief and survival. It is a spiritual act performed for the loss of Camilo and all those who went before and will follow him.
Intending to present the work at the 2020 Santiago a Mil International Festival, in 2019 Lemi worked intensively with Elisa and Natalia during a three-week residency in New Zealand. As the work was taking shape, the uprising in Chile took place, which changed the context profoundly. The team was still updating the production immediately before it premiered on 22 January 2020 at the Gabriela Mistral Center, close to where the demonstrations had happened. The immediacy of the uprising meant that Amor a la Muerte was a pivotal and emotional part of the festival programme. Amor a la Muerte has since been performed in China, France, Spain and the US.
The MAU Mapuche theatre company combines ancient and avant-garde art to present the worldview of the Mapuche people and their relationships with people, nature, women, power, identity and destiny. The company was launched in 2013 to create new work with indigenous Mapuche artists and communities for the Santiago a Mil International Festival in 2015 and 2016.
Recognising that many people around the world are silenced, Lemi created MAU to bring people to a place of power, justice, love and care. Lemi named the company after the Samoan word mau, which means a declaration of truth. MAU brings together artists and communities from around the world, breaking down barriers between cultures and artistic genres. It provides a platform for dancers, performers, intellectuals and community leaders to generate critical reflections. MAU has toured the world extensively and performed at some of the biggest international festivals.
Amor a la Muerte follows other productions by MAU Mapuche: I AM Mapuche (2014) and Ceremonia De Memorias (2016).
Published 02 November 2023
“When people talk about theatre, they’re talking about the European form. This is the problem. The rest of the world is locked out when you use words like symphony, orchestra, dance, or theatre. These can be quite violent words, as they can degrade or eliminate the aesthetics of other worlds.”
First produced and performed in 2020
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