Lia Rodrigues (1956, Brazil), dancer and choreographer
Lia Rodrigues is at the forefront of contemporary dance in Brazil, creating bold and technically stunning choreographies. Since 2003 she has based her dance company in a Rio favela where she runs the Free Dance School of Maré, generating experiences and opportunities with the community.
Report from the 2014 Prince Claus Awards Committee
Lia Rodrigues (1956, São Paulo) is a dancer and choreographer who brings art and life together through artistic excellence and social commitment. Returning from an illustrious career in Europe in 1990, she became a leading figure in Brazilian dance circles, setting up the Lia Rodrigues Companhia de Danças, and founding and directing the Panorama Rioarte de Dança festival.Shocked and moved by the pervasive social inequality she encountered, in 2003 she moved her base to Maré, one of Rio’s largest favelas.
Working with community members ofRedes de Desenvolvimento da Maré, Rodrigues set up the area’s first cultural centre. In 2011 she launched the Free Dance School of Maré where about 200 students participate in workshops and classes in body awareness, contemporary dance and creative dance, as well as training in related practical and administrative skills.
Her company’s audacious and technically superb choreographies push the limits of dance, exploring poverty, history, violence and citizenship through the body. Incarnat (2005) deals with hardship and feelings aroused by others’ suffering. Pororoca (2009) concerns difference and the meeting of contrary currents.
Rehearsals are open to community members to inspire new ways of thinking and doing. The company tours and participates in festivals, bringing their work to a wide audience locally and internationally. Performances and classes in Maré are free, and income from external activities is re-invested.
Lia Rodrigues is honoured for her bold, innovative choreography that is generating a new language of Brazilian dance; for actively countering social inequality through the practical skills, reflective criticality and inspirational spirit of contemporary dance practice; for revealing the favelas as places of learning, energy, cultural creativity and positive construction; for challenging limited notions of social and artistic responsibility; and for creating dialogue between high artistic form and ordinary human life that is breaking down social barriers and transforming norms in Brazilian society.