Female Sexual Initiative has been operating as a company for four years. With his previous job, Katherine, surprised with a dismembered dance and punkra in which all parts of the body were danced and physicality was taken to the extreme. They define her dance as feminist, libertarian and anti-academicist. They operate with their own production rhythms, clinging as best they can to grants, scholarships and self-managed or research spaces. They are aware that the cultural production system is a disco bouncer who must be fooled. The piece that now presented at La Casa Encendida in Madridwith tickets already sold out, perpetual happiness, it took shape during two years of research and premiered last year at the Grec Festival in Barcelona, the city where the company resides.
Its members are of diverse origin: Élise Moreau (France, 1992), Elisa Keisanen (Finland, 1988) and Cristina Morales (Spain, 1985), well-known writer that won the Herralde Prize in 2018 with easy reading Y turned on networks and moral thermometers when he received the National Narrative Award in 2019. That "it is a joy that there is a fire instead of open shops and cafes" in Barcelona after the referendum. Something of that wild and frontal attitude, combative and excessive, also has the dance of Female Sexual Initiative. With perpetual happiness they put the head and the whole body into female martyrdom, its aestheticization and its sexualization.
The company's bet is focused on what they call "violent body". And in this piece they fix their gaze on martyrdom to gradually deconstruct suffering, in codes of movement. But not only the suffering of the martyr, but also that of the executioner, or the sadistic side of it, and that of a contemporary and politicized body that suffers sometimes by consenting, others by being used.
The company has decided, among so many martyrs of the Holy Church, to focus on Perpetua and Felicidá, martyrs of the second century after Christ who are tortured and murdered by the Roman Empire: "Their history is very particular. They are mistress and slave but at the same time they are allies. Throughout history they have been represented as one whiter and the other blacker. In addition, one is a pregnant mother and the other is a lactating mother, "explains Morales. "The history of the martyrs is full of tremendous misogyny, many of them are denounced by their parents and husbands. We had access to the story of the martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicidá that is still preserved today and already in that text they are treated as genuine leaders by emancipation from the Roman yoke.Today they are considered by the community queer Christian, which exists, as the first lesbian couple. There is even a romantic painting that presents them in prison after having had sexual relations," explains Moreau, alluding to the painting. the triumph of faith of the late 19th century Irish painter Saint George Hare.
But the nerve center of the piece is pain: how to deal with it and what are the limits in a job where each dancer goes through a moment of martyrdom in which real pain is inflicted on stage. "We all go through the role of martyrs, but also of executioners. We all die and are resurrected on stage. We have many guidelines to take care of each other, but we also generate dangerous and real moments where pain and also pleasure appear. In the piece it is It's fundamental that while there is a moment when pain is inflicted on you as a dancer, then you have to continue working with that aching body, not hiding it, working with that feeling," explains Keisanen. "The piece confronts and combats the concept of the beauty of pain generated a posteriori, the representation of pain. Beauty cannot be generated without having gone through the previous stages. In our piece we go through all that previous path live", adds Moreau .
"It shows a critical view of the pain that they don't let you express, that you have to hide," continues Élise Moreau. "This is something that happens a lot in contemporary dance. For example, in the Belgian tradition where floor work is very painful, or in circus artists... I have done circus and it hurts much more than being tortured in this piece. And the problem is that, in addition, you have to hide it on stage in pursuit of who knows what," Moreau concludes. "Although we do not condemn people harming each other, the important thing is that harm is done with sovereignty, from a position taken. In this sense, the proposal of perpetual happiness it has something in common with sadomasochistic practices as a place of consent and respect", explains Morales.
The work, which begins with ecstatic and sacred symbolism typical of pictorial representations of a religious nature, traces, little by little, connections and threads with the present. And, at the same time that it is structured in a religious triptych where each one will be victim and executioner, the company tries to connect that reality with current references such as violence in current politics. But the piece's capacity for syncretism does not end there.
"I want to be canonized, whipped and flogged, levitate in the mornings and have sores on my body," Eduardo Benavente sang with his group Paralisis Permanente from the most punk and sinister corner of 1982. Forty years later, perpetual happiness has wanted to look at this time when the musical scene coexisted with the underground and the most liminal pop under a landscape of garish and fluorescent delirium. But Female Sexual Initiative has decided to leave out the underground and not having an ounce of complacency with the figure of the diva and of the woman by extension in those years: "We have paid a lot of attention to the sexualization of the pop icons of those years. It is a very naive time where you find lyrics that exclaim with joy barbarities such as: Take me, leave me, buy me, sell me, tie me up, let me go..., as the singer Yuri does in Mexico in her song I love you, I love you", explains Keisanen about one of the most beloved jarochas of the Mexican pop song. "We wanted to connect the work with the sexy representation of suffering that occurs at that time," Moreau points out.
The vision of those years, and especially of the diva, is harsh and critical, out of everything revival melancholic. The diva is thus reduced to the gestures of a reified female body. When asked if the music scene has improved somewhat in recent years or only in political correctness, his position is not complacent either: "You can think that today pop culture is less sexist, but also that it continues to be but in a more hidden," Moreau points out. Morales is even more acidic: "More sexist than now, impossible. Now the violence is sublimated, it is expressed in another way, it is no longer in the lyrics. You just have to observe how the records are produced and what is asked of the artists so that one wonders if this continuous sexualization of women arises from the artist's own sovereignty or the opposite. "I love you riding, like me bike" by Rosalia and the attacks it has had to endure on networks. It is censored. If it's not on one side, it's on the other. That a woman makes explicit that she wants to fuck another or another is still unacceptable. I insist on the word sovereignty, it is a word that is vital in this piece. It is also true that in the 1980s, with the honorable exception of Las Vulpes, that sovereignty did not even exist," concludes Morales.
The music is an important part of the piece. Apart from the one reproduced and arranged, among which there are themes by Battiato, the commented Yuri or classical music performed by the now vindicated Nadia Boulanger, Women's Sexual Initiative has created several of their own songs that they sing themselves. "It is like a saint's calendar that is dedicated to several saints, to Saint Pelagia, Saint Teresa, Saint Godeleva…", explains Moreau. "I produce a punk band, Jam. When I give my opinion about what they are doing, many times they tell me that I have no idea, that I am not a musician, and I tell them that I have a punk band called Female Sexual Initiative. And I am absolutely convinced of it. The songs we have done are already a very punk rock, we play them with our whole body", Morales defends about these a cappella songs that are more reminiscent of a folk rooted in medieval romance or the matins session than a song by the Misfits But the concept of punk is broad.
The bet of Female Sexual Initiative is that of a dramaturgy of contemporary syncretism that exposes non-discursive connections to the public; a visceral and political dance where hierarchization can be abolished. The structure of the company, like that of the human body, is conceived from an anarchist perspective. There are no hierarchies between the components of the company just as there are no hierarchies between the different parts of the body. It is danced with everything: with the neck, with the armpit and with the pussy. An approach, far from the usual compositional and codified tradition of the scene and especially of dance, which is in its infancy and is still looking for its own time and language, knowing how to dominate space, time and aesthetic composition. Time will tell how his proposal pans out. But as the end of the powerful note to the edition of the Cristina Morales book, Last afternoons with Teresa de Jesús, written on the occasion of the recent death of Juan Marsé: "In other words, neither captatio benevolentiae or hosts: kick in the balls, knife to the jugular and laughter in the air ".