Marques, Isabel: In defense of Paulo Freire´s Legacy: dancing for social transformation

On the opposite way of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Paulo Freire´s birth in 2021, the Brazilian Federal Government has been attacking his legacy and forbidding his work to be diffused and used by public schools and universities in Brazil. Since the parliamentary coup d´etat in 2016 and the take over of president Bolsonaro in 2019, democracy is at stake in Brazil. Civil and human rights are under constant destruction and censorship is staggering. The arts and the arts in education are under threat.
Based on research and dance practice as a dance director of Caleidos Dance Co., I believe the work of Paulo Freire, when related to the arts, can be an antidote to authoritarism and a tool for individual and social freedom and justice. Having worked with Paulo Freire´s team as a dance educator consultant at the Secretary of Education of São Paulo City in the 1990´s reinforced my ideas and ideals about the importance – and necessity – of art/dance activism in social institutions and territories such as public schools.

This presentation discusses the contemporary dance work of Caleidos Dance Co. in/with public schools in São Paulo City that embraces Freirian principles and contributions towards social transformation. More closely, this paper will focus on the artistic/pedagogical proposal for dance in education I´ve been developing since 1996 that uses dance interactivity as a means to establish – as in Freire – dialogue and social awareness. I wish to share my experience as a “freirian dance director” in the creation of contemporary dance performances that enables aesthetic experience as related to social issues.