Word of Dances was born as an artistic fusion of classic ballet, a minimalist perspective, where my subjects merge with their surrounding in an almost magical way. As I immersed myself into the World of Dances, I fell in love with the richness of folklore and its traditions, specially in Latin America. As a natural evolution, my life-long photographic project on dance did only made sense, by expanding its existence, with the inclusion of a detailed, yet graphically superb, documentation of the intangible representations of culture, expressed through dance, music, oral expressions and traditional attires. In such way, The Güepajé Project, pronounced wepaheh, was born.
As result of the rich folk music heritage in Latin America, almost every traditional community in the continent practices some form of folk dancing. Folk dances are typically performed for the pleasure of the participants and do not require an audience, therefore overlapping somewhat with tribal dances, defined as dancing originally from African tribes, often associated with syncretic religious practices like Santeria and Candomble – and some types of social dancing. Furthermore, when a traditional folk dance is perform onstage in a formal concert, its steps and patterns may be those of folk dance, but it has been removed from the context of folk culture(*).
The hours spent researching Colombia for the creation of my travel project Colombia Photo Expeditions , unveiled a new understanding of the intercultural mesh of Latin America. After documenting the Barranquilla Carnival in February 2018, I fell i love with a Colombian popular term that was perfect to describe my folk dance series within World of Dances. Even the word “Güepajé” does not exist in the real academy of Spanish language dictionary, it is a popular interjection to show happiness in the north coast of Colombia. The singers of Cumbia and Vallenatos shout “Güepajé” to transmit good feeling or to increase the enthusiasm, and the dancers shout it that expressed joyfulness.
The Güepajé Project is a collection of folk and dance photographs crafted with a true love for cultural diversity and traditions, with the humble attempt to visually preserve expressions, that one day, may be well gone.
(*) Encyclopedia of Contemporary Latin American and Caribbean Cultures. Edited by Daniel Balderston, Mike Gonzalez and Ana M.Lopez