Danza Voluminosa, a dance group created in 1996 by dancer and choreographer Juan Miguel Mas, features prima ballerina Mailín Daza and seven dancers in total: six beautiful fat women and himself. They have three full-length productions under their belts as well as 30 shorter pieces. A Canadian documentary, “Defying Gravity” (2004) chronicles Juan Miguel Mas’ vision for his troupe and the obstacles they have faced.
According to Mas:
We provide a context for obese people to develop artistically, to create a language and a structure that makes them able to interact with society. But it’s not limited to fat people. We’ve worked with dancers who gained weight, retired dancers – all kinds of artists said to be ‘good for nothing’. We’ve worked with people with AIDS.
We’ve played in places for the first time where people have shouted at us, ‘look at those fat people!’ We still hear giggles sometimes, but when audiences see the sense of purpose, the work that has gone into the show, our concentration – well, there’s always huge applause at the end.
At its peak, the Maya civilization had one of the richest cultures in the Americas. Today, ethnic Mayas in central America and Mexico suffer from discrimination, exploitation and poverty.
In Guatemala, where nearly half of the population is indigenous, descendants of the once-mighty ancient civilization have even fallen victims to genocide.
The rich Mayan culture will be in the global spotlight Friday when revelers — and doomsday watchers — will mark the end of a 5,200-year era as sketched out in the elaborate Mayan calendar.
But the plight of indigenous Mayas in the region will likely go undiscussed.
“The indigenous population was always seen as cheap labor and this persists to this day,” said Guatemalan anthropologist Alvaro Pop, a member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
“They are seen as a tool and are not the focus of public policies.”
The Maya civilization reached its peak between the years 250 and 900, but then slipped into decline around 1200.
Three centuries later, during Spanish colonization, the Mayas were dispossessed of their lands and reduced to poverty as well as servitude.
Today, there are currently an estimated 20 to 30 million direct descendants of the ancient civilization living in southern Mexico, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, where the indigenous group is most prevalent.
In Guatemala, ethnic Mayas often find themselves on the margins of society, with limited access to education, health care and other basic services. Their native languages are not officially recognized.
Within the indigenous community, which accounts for 42 percent of Guatemala’s 14.3-million-strong population, the poverty rate is 80 percent.
Nearly six in 10 indigenous children suffer from chronic malnutrition, and the infant mortality rate has hit an alarming rate of 40 per 1,000 live births, according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
In Mexico, social misery and exploitation led to the creation in 1994 in Chiapas state of the media-savvy but later weakened Zapatista National Liberation Army, which drew attention to the community’s plight.
But ethnic Mayas paid perhaps the heaviest price during Guatemala’s civil war that pitted the army against leftist guerrillas from 1960 to 1996.
“There were external reasons which exacerbated the population’s poverty and led to a stigmatization of indigenous people,” according to Pop.
More than 600 massacres of indigenous communities were recorded during that period and tens of thousands of Indians sought refuge in southern Mexico from the brutal counter-insurgency by the military, according to a 1999 UN report.
Cambiando un poco! espero que me resulte bien!
Una vez mas muero,
destrozas todo pedazo de mi…