Gema Nataly Contreras: “It is difficult to free yourself from subtle prejudices”
During the month of women, OLA conducted interviews with different managers, professionals and artists to find out their point of view regarding the role of women in the cultural sector.
Gema Nataly Contreras, interpreter of the Chilean National Ballet (BANCH), was one of them. The Bachelor of Dance with a mention in Pedagogy from the U. Academia de Humanismo Cristiano, she is also a performer, teacher and independent choreographer. This artist has developed a career as a professional dancer at the Compañía Danza Espiral, Compañía Danza en Cruz, Ballet Municipal de La Florida BAM, José Vidal & Cía, Joel Inzunza & Compañía.
As a teacher, she has collaborated in university careers of dance and theater, some of them are the Academia de Humanismo Cristiano University (where she studied her profession), the Modern School of Music, the Gustavo Meza Image Theatre School and the School Theatre . At BANCH she has also worked as a teacher representing the company in spaces such as the Seasonal School of the University of Chile. And as if that wasn’t enough, she has been part of the youth training program You Can Dance! from the Mustakis Foundation together with Teatro del Lago, with the directors Paola Moret and Cristian Contreras.
In her capacity as director and choreographer, she has developed her work in seasons of Laboratorio BANCH with the choreography “BOTAR”; in emerging dance companies such as 8vo Movimiento with the works Excerpts from Works of No Exist and We out here and performing and co-creating the work Bell Cross, directed by the director of the Antagonista Theatre Company and Manuel Morgado School Theatre. Currently, Gema is part of the Niña Imaginaria theatre company directed by Diana Fraczinet.
CC: CEAC UChile 2018
We already told you a little about her professional career, now lets find out more about her role as a dancer and woman in the world of culture:
In what way have women made room for themselves in theatres?
First, I think that women have opened and demanded from the world the space that corresponds to us, without a desire for war – as some feel – simply from a just purpose: Equality.
From my path as a performing artist, linked to the body and movement, I feel that female power is a contribution mainly of professionalism in terms of: leadership, competence and sensitivity in the spaces where art is promoted, promoted and developed in general: theatres , cultural spaces, academies, universities, among others.
What is still to be done?
Although women have been able to empower ourselves more and more of our personal and work spaces, from the strength and feminine sensitivity, there are still many of the worst social ghosts, fed from patriarchal, macho, binary and heteronormed ideas -to say a few-, for / with us. A simple example: femicides.
If I respond to this concern from my trade linked to movement and dance, it is still difficult to free myself from subtle prejudices, such as, for example, that places of direction, choreography and mastery are clearly masculine spaces, the feminine place responding only to interpretation or simple inspiration, as is the role of muse.
What are the difficulties and challenges of your position?
I believe that the challenges for everything that concerns me, both personally and professionally, involves and is justified in the following order: Woman-Artist-Dancer. I point it out since it is a way in which I allow myself to describe, for example, when they ask you: what are you? Answering that question with that description – in a country like Chile – is very complex.
In general, I think that women constantly have to be demonstrating and emphasizing our abilities and skills, I feel that it is innate in us to affirm and reaffirm that “we are capable”, a kind of justification for our own insecurities or those that society has installed in us. .
In particular, I feel that one of the most complex challenges I have had to tackle as a dancer is being able to go out and free myself from established canons of how a dancer should look, behave, and dance; especially speaking from aesthetic places. A concrete example of this idea: it is freeing yourself from your inner “maiden”. It is simply understanding that you have a Latin American body, that your energy can be both feminine and masculine and there is nothing wrong with that! Your roots and essence make you unique and that is your greatest strength as an artist. It is freeing oneself from the idea of being “rescued” in every sense and learning to save oneself … because you can! One can be talented, leading, creative and professional enough.
My biggest challenge is to get rid of ideas like: “I want to be a beautiful dancer” to enter “I want to be a good artist”, this is the only thing that moves and motivates me.
Do you feel that being a woman has been more challenging for you?
I think that life in general for a woman is very challenging, but it is also so for a man, or even more so for someone who describes himself as non-binary.
I don’t like talking about more or less. I can only and want to speak from my feminine side. As I pointed out before, I feel that women must constantly emphasize our capabilities, not only in the workplace, but also personally. I particularly like the nature of each challenge that life proposes to me, since there we can move forward. For every obstacle there is a beautiful learning, growth and evolution as a human being. Everything is an opportunity or at least that is how I like to visualize it, otherwise it is very frustrating from the female gender.