In October 2019, following performances at a festival in Colombia, the highly acclaimed Spanish performance artist Marta Carrasco was scheduled to perform for 11 nights at the Latino Theatre Company in Los Angeles. Instead, she and her team were wrongfully detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in the Seattle airport for over 5 hours, the cameras in the room turned away and she was repeatedly told that she might be handcuffed. Carrasco, who has a long professional career as stage director and creator, performance artist, and choreographer, has toured internationally for years and has a clear idea of what documents are required. She presented the officials with the necessary visas, etc., but they insisted that the visas were invalid and she was deported back to Barcelona.
In addition to her many works, Carrasco is the recipient of numerous awards including the Barcelona Theater Critics Award 1996-97, for Aiguardent and for Pesombra , and more than 20 awards or mentions, such as the Max Award (2003), the National Dance Award of the Generalitat de Catalunya (2005), the City of Barcelona Prize (2007) or the Serra d’Or Prize of the Theater Criticism (2007) for the best theater show, for J’arrive …!.
Like many of her characters, Carrasco has prevailed, and has returned to Los Angeles to present the 11-day run of her dance theater work, Perra de Nadie (Nobody’s Bitch), June 15 – 26, 2022 at the Latino Theatre Company on Spring Street. Perra de Nadie is created, directed and performed by Carrasco. Tickets are now on sale.
Carrasco lives in a small town near Barcelona called Cardedeu, has toured internationally including a few times in Los Angeles at the Latino Theatre Company. She has also presented her solo works BLANC D’OMBRA at the Ford Amphitheatre and AIGUARDENT at REDCAT. I met Carrasco and her friend, road manager, and translator Alba Morera in a small coffee shop inside the Millennium Biltmore Hotel where they are staying for an interview. Morera is also a filmmaker and will be directing a film titled “Torna’m la vida” about a 57 year old female choreographer who has reached a point in life where she has to somehow find a way to reactivate. Carrasco will be acting as advisor and choreographer.
Though short in stature, Carrasco is powerful in spirit and like other great artists, her presence fills the room without her even trying. I was specifically entranced by her eyes which expressed years of seeing and empathizing with the inner struggles and triumphs of people, particularly women. If one believes in reincarnation, Carrasco is an old soul who has experienced much throughout her many lifetimes.
Her performance background includes performing for 5 years with Metros Dance Company led by Artistic Director and choreographer Ramón Oller, who was also one of Carrasco’s most influential teachers. She also worked with and learned from Àngels Margarit, the Artistic Director and choreographer of Mudances. When asked who most inspired her work, Carrasco answered via her translator Morera.
“My references are from painters, people from the street – even homeless, people without a roof,” she said. “Everything that is imperfect peaks my interest.” Referring to articles about her that say that she is inspired by the work of Martha Graham, Mary Wigman and Pina Bausch, “It does not bother me,” she continued. “It is an honor but it’s not true.”
What has been written that Carrasco does agree with is that her work can be characterized by an expressionist and grotesque aesthetic. When describing what type of artist she is, Carrasco considers herself a performance artist more than anything else. “I am a director in the way that I tell stories very directly and very emotionally so,” Carrasco, I felt was looking deep inside my soul. “I don’t know if I’m a dancer or not, an actress or not, the boss or not,” Prompting a good laugh for us all.
Asking an artist to talk about their work is as difficult as it is for them to describe what they do or to speak to the meaning of any specific piece of work. I did, however, ask Carrasco if she would talk about Perra de Nadie.
“It’s very hard to put words to images,” she said softly. “It (Perra de Nadie) is a dance theater piece with a little bit of text.” I ask her if she wrote the text. Carrasco nodded in agreement but added “Every day I say something different. It is never the same.” She described how in the solos that she creates, everything changes. One performance is never like the next.
I inquired if she was portraying specific characters. “Very specific!” she stressed. “There are seven very specific women, very different but they have a lot in common. These seven women live in my heart. This doesn’t mean that they are me, but at certain points in my life I have felt them. I think that all women in the audience at some point throughout this performance, will identify themselves with the one of the women.” At this point Carrasco once again looked directly into my soul and while pointing at me uttered, “For you! This is for you!”
At this point, our conversation veered momentarily toward talking about contemporary dance versus what Carrasco’s work is like. Her one criticism of contemporary dance is that it can often be too busy and undirected. I believe that she was referring to how the choreographers sometimes fail to direct the audience’s attention or eye to speak directly to the audience. We talked about the power of stillness to which Carrasco smiled and said, “I love long pauses.”
Getting us back on track, my next question was an attempt to delve more deeply into each individual woman in Perra de Nadie. I asked Carrasco if these seven characters were actual people she had met or simply several different types of women. She pointed to her heart and I understood that they came from within herself.
“I haven’t lived those experiences,” she said. “but they came from inside of me. I couldn’t name each of them. They are very strong women and the same time they are fragile, and they go to extremes. They go all the way. That we have in common, these women and me.”
She explained that what she loves about these women that she is portraying on stage is what they lack. “What they have gone through, their imperfections – the extremes,” Carrasco continued. “You might see them as losers, but they keep on living and therefore they are winners. These women are survivors.”
Carrasco said that she sometimes collaborates with other artists and designers on the costumes, sets and lighting, but for Perra de Nadie she picked the clothing herself. “I already had her own clothes from other times. “What I liked about them was they were already used. It was important.” She does have a Lighting Designer that she usually tours with, Quico Gutiérrez, but for this performance Gutiérrez sent his light plot in advance for the lighting designer here to recreate.
Another difficult question that I posed to Carrasco was what she hoped audience members will take home with them. “I hope that the audience takes an overdose of humanity. It’s persons of different worlds and each person will receive different things from the show depending on their experiences or their past.”
Carrasco also wishes to share with our readers and her fans that this performance will bring a close to her performing live onstage. It was important to her that this key moment in her life take place at the Latino Theatre Company as she considers them not only her colleagues but very dear friends.
“From now on I really look forward to celebrating with others and helping others,” she shared. It will not be the end of her creative life, however. “When you have this virus of creating, it is something you can’t help it but do.”
Perra de Nadie (Nobody’s Bitch) runs for 11 performances, June 15 – 26, 2022, at the Latino Theatre Company located at 514 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013. Ticket Prices: Adults: $48; Students: $22; Senior 65+: $22; and Veterans: $22
For more information and to purchase tickets, please click HERE.
Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.
Featured image: Marta Carrasco in Perra de Nadie (Nobody’s Bitch) – Photo by David Ruano