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Sangre (Blood)

Olga Barrios

Olga Barrios’s Sangre (Blood) GallerySangre (Spanish for “blood”) is a series of choreographic works developed in Toronto by Colombian artist Olga Barrios. The project was presented in three phases and united by the theme of dehumanization of violence through acts of war. These works are framed within a multidisciplinary approach in which the staging of dance is supported by elements of theatre, video, and music. The choreography involves research into the themes of rhythm, image, and theatricality.

Many places in the world deal with longstanding social conflicts. Colombia, my country of origin, has a history with strong issues of social violence that are related to the social/political environment of inequality and corruption. This conflict has lasted more than four decades and its end seems further away every day. Because of this ongoing situation and its involvement in every facet of Colombian society, everyone has a story to tell. Every day there is news of horrendous acts happening in small towns, usually affecting innocent people caught in the middle. Most of the people in Colombia no longer know to whom this conflict belongs or the motivations behind it. They have to live with the consequences: the fear in the atmosphere, and the dehumanization caused by war.

There are many acts related to this social violence of war such as kidnappings, massacres and forced displacements. Based on the resonance of some of these acts, I began the choreographic process of the series Sangre. Each piece in this series focused on one of these acts. Thus, the piece “Behind Windows” was initiated by the theme of kidnapping, “Los Ausentes” (The Absent Ones) focused on a massacre, and the dance installation “Moving Earth” centered around images of forced displacements.

The first piece “Behind Windows” was choreographed and performed as a solo in the McLean Performance Studio at York University as part of the MFA thesis concert “Cuatro.” The second piece of the series, “Los Ausentes,” was choreographed for the six dancers of the York Dance Ensemble and was presented in the Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre at York University as part of the second MFA thesis concert “Penumbra.” The last piece “Moving Earth,” is an exploration of a specific site resulting in the creation of a dance installation where the nature of the space changed the dynamic of spatial composition. This final piece was presented at Arta Gallery in the Distillery District in Toronto.

In developing my choreographic work, I used strong contrast between elements of narrative, movement, music and theatre. I also explored my own reality as a woman whose life is affected by technology and information of the contemporary world; however, I found it important to maintain some sense of history and a flavour of the past. In the use of video I explored how the two-dimensional world of video can play and negotiate with the three-dimensional world of the body in performance.

Olga Barrios is choreographer, teacher and dancer. She has collaborated with theater, musical and dance companies in Canada, USA and Colombia. She was born in Bogota, Colombia. More info at

This project was possible thanks to the collaborations of many artists and friends: Project Supervisor Carol Anderson (Professor at MFA Dance Department at York University) ; Composer/Musicians Diego Marulanda and Luisito Orbegoso; Visual Artists , Maria Flawia Litwin, Alexandra Gelis and Trevor Schwellnus; Dramaturg Alejandro Roncería; Costume Designer Ruth Gutiérrez. Dancers: Krista Antonio, Brittany-Brie D’Amico, Hannah Greyson-Gaito, Mellisa Kwok, Jennifer Lee and Caroline Vukson. Adriana Sabogal, Fay Athari, Amy Stewart, Mayahuel Tecozautla, Amanda Paixao and my husband Juan Carlos Márquez.

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