THE ORIGINS OF YOGGATON
My head is still spinning from last night’s party. First thing I do in the morning: play some perreo. I’m here again with a hangover. ¡Ay no! I really need to stretch, have to start this day or I will just feel miserable. Yoga would be so helpful right now. I want some water, I’m so thirsty. Ok, one thing at a time. Ok, get on that mat. Roll your body over your thighs. Yes, that feels good. Come up slowly, inhale deeply and exhale all the tiredness away. Put your hands up, interlace your fingers, inhale and then exhale all the way back to downward dog. Stay and stretch. Good, do it again. Slow down, downward dog and then stretch to the back and hmmm what is this? yes, ok follow the beats, release your bootie… hmmm this feels good. Downward dog became an actual perreo! I’m living for it, I’m laughing at myself and I just keep on going, combining the asanas with perreo movements. My hips are jiggling, my bootie is bouncing, the deep breathing is helping me release the tensions from last night. I feel amazing. A bit dizzy still but I really had an unexpected and energizing discovery. What happened later on that day is not really clear to me but that memory is so vivid. So much fun. Such a good combination of things! I remember feeling it all over my body and thinking: “This is really something” and since then kept on practicing this Yoggaton, yoga to reggaeton combo, as I immediately named it.
I’m really glad you are reading this now. The love I have for this practice is making me want to spread it as much as I can in hope for more people to know about it, connect to it and with each other. Over the last years my artistic practice started to have a focus on and to be built around empowerment through movement and most specifically those that are considered to be sexual. The intersections of a life’s training in classic Ballet and Contemporary Dance came together with so-called sexy dances I learned -such as Pole Dance-, creating this liminal space where expression through movement, agency on issues of class, gender, and identity were at the core of this new found territory.
Therefore, I know that Yoggaton was born from my uteru*s, full of strong creative female energy and intuitive knowledge. Noticing the threshold of variety of body practices and dances, knowledge, identities, cultural and social realities I embodied, lead me to take a step further into creating something new out of all that vast corporeal experience.
*By this I do not mean that the uterus is what makes me or anyone a woman (or not). With this I’m trying to illustrate that my personal bodily experience in the world as woman is connected to my uterus.
What is yoggaton?
It is a movement practice that activates our physical, mental emotional, spiritual and sensual levels. It is a combination of asanas and yoga spiritual principles, Andean cosmovision, guided meditation, fitness and perreo.
This practice questions binary ideas, joining opposites like Yoga and Reggaeton, or ideas such as good-bad, whore-saint , civilized-savage. This division comes from colonial thinking that does not allow us to value ourselves in our totality and this generates anxiety, emotional blocks and denial of our own bodies, identities or cultures, as an example.
The Thinking Behind Yoggaton
Resilience and Intense Perreo
The roots of Reggaeton and perreo are, as many other music genres and dances, Afro-diasporic. Its influences vary from hip-hop, caribbean reggae, house merengue, dance hall reggae, reggae en Español and dembow. Perro is the Spanish word for dog. The act of perrear graphically illustrates the movements and positions that are required to dance to it.
I grew up dancing to reggaeton and cumbia along with other popular Latin rhythms and at the same time dancing ballet and Bolivian folklore, among other dances/body practices, resonating with each of them as they activated different sensibilities in my body.
Reggaeton and perreo activate the pelvic floor which is the zone of connection with the place that we come from. Here we can find the first and second chakras or energy points which are related to our ancestral inheritance, roots, trust, belonging. To reconnect with our own roots reconnects us with a basic trust in life, in ourselves and others.
Spirituality and Spiritual Activism
For Gloria Anzaldúa, chicana dyke writer and activist, spiritual activism considers healing as a collective act and therefore political. An important aspect of spiritual activism is the recovery of spiritualities that were censored by colonialism.
The wounds of colonization manifest and somatize in our bodies and our sexuality. Celebrating cultural and sexual diversities and promoting mutual respect, we can free ourselves from guilt, fear and shame to be empowered and heal our own bodies. For Yoggaton the body is divine and enjoyment and pleasure are spiritual experiences that connects us to our higher consciousness from where we can transform not only ourselves but bring goodness to our communities.
Sensuality and Pleasure Activism
Yoggaton suggests that we connect with our breathing, with our own skin, our sweat, and the possibility of becoming conscious of our own body and in this way, to give time to ourselves. Sensuality has much to do with giving time to ourselves and do everything slower. To simply inhale and exhale with tranquility, connects us with the possibility to relax the mind and to be fully present in our own body.
For adrienne maree brown, social justice facilitator focused on black liberation, doula/healer and pleasure activist, pleasure activism is about being completely present and to create spaces where we can feel, reflect upon and celebrate pleasure to live in more free and fair societies, specially for those systematically oppressed by white heteronormative patriarchy.
Ancestral Futurism: Decolonial Practices
To know where we come from allows us to know where we are going. For this reason, it is necessary to locate these memories in our own bodies, to connect the first chakra (pelvic floor) and the seventh chakra (head crown), the ground with the sky. The energy of the first chakra connects us with our roots, with our sense of belonging, our ancestral inheritance; and the seventh chakra connects us with the divine, with the eternal and that which expands. For those of us that come from places that were colonized, it is particularly necessary to activate this first chakra because our ancestral inheritances have been erased, forgotten or negated.
Ancestral futurism imagines and binds ancestral knowledge with our current life experience, in order to imagine and build futures of wellbeing. The artistic field is the one contributing a lot to this concept/practice. Artists such as Verena Melgarejo and Gotopo are making this movement grow.
Knowledge at the thresholds: Ch’ixi practices
Silvia Rivera, Bolivian sociologist, developed the term Ch’ixi. This Aymara word literally means mixture of colors. According to Rivera, this notion implies the complexities of an identity that emerges from the juxtaposition of different identities and backgrounds. In this color/concept it is still possible to track back what colors/concepts created the new one, it is still possible to acknowledge the original components of it. Yoggaton is a Ch’ixi practice. Here, the realms of the mundane, divine, sensual, sexual, and physical workout are coexisting in sort of a non-hierarchical juxtaposition where it is still possible to recognize the influences but in the end it is a new thing on itself. Yoggaton is about bringing different aspects that might be considered opposites, together: to make the Madonna-Whore dichotomy a whole well realized being. Why can’t the ‘good girl’ that dances ballet also perrear all night?
Sanación and deculonial perreo
The idea to heal at a personal level and collectively leads us to the concept of “deculonization” (decolonization + culo or bum in Spanish). The decolonial / deculonial comparison sees the South of the body as the bum of the world, many times subordinated, oppressed, colonized.
The term ‘Desculonización’ was coined by Kebra, artist and activist who got inspired by post- pornography, transfeminism, decolonization and brazilian funk to give birth to the Desculonización practice/movement. Pedra Costa, performance artist and anthropologist says in her ‘Southern Butthole Manifesto’: ‘The butthole’s investigations are theoretical and practical, always…We are Sorceresses and Healers. Our Dance and our Ginga, is our fight, our way of Loving and Playing, being in connection with our Community…
Yoggaton embraces this practice and its richness from a body-mind-soul healing and political perspective. Allocating colonialism in the hips and butts, facilitates the idea of bringing vibration to it in order to release the blockages colonialism left in our bodies. When we heal our own sexual energy, we heal the collective sexual energy, which is basically creative energy that we need for existing in the most wholesome way every day.
I was born in Bolivia in 1987 and since 2016 I’m based in Berlin, I came to study the MA SoDA Solo Dance Authorship at HZT and stayed. During my studies I received a DAAD scholarship in the field of Performing Arts and, also during that time, Yoggaton started to be developed. In Bolivia, I studied dance and psychology. My artistic work (performances, videos, workshops, etc) has been awarded and presented internationally in platforms such as Tanztage Berlin, Tanzquartier Wien and HKW. Last year I received the Studio Grant at District Berlin with the research ‘Yoggaton as empowerment and decolonial body practice’. My love for music is also growing and exciting projects are coming soon.
The focus of my work is on decolonial/queer aesthetics-practices, empowerment through pleasure and spiritual activism, healing rituals/ancestral futurism and knowledge production with and from the body.