Niurca Márquez is an artist/researcher with a wide range, as a creator and performer in film, site-specific work and staged performance. Her work has been commissioned by and presented on various curatorial platforms in Europe and the US. She has worked tirelessly on presenting new works that examine notions of identity, cultural memory and ritual in flamenco within a contemporary framework, as well as, works that delve into the multiple layers of communication and understanding in the form. She continuously examines the many intersections of tradition and vanguard to create new languages and expressions embedded in flamenco but informed by contemporary practices in dance and theater: a reflection on the work’s historical placement and potential implications within a contemporary dance setting.
In 2009 she became part of an international movement that is addressing extended forms in flamenco and reclaiming the art form’s liaisons with political and social discourse. That same year she was invited to perform original choreography at the first-ever Festival of Experimental Flamenco (Flamenc Empiric – Barcelona), as well as, the International Dance Residency at Art Omi (NY). The following year she debuted “Sevilla Mon Amour” with contemporary flamenco guitarist and composer Jose Luis de la Paz as the opening concert for Espacio Vivo Endanza at the 2010 Biennial of Flamenco in Seville. Since then they have premiered four other collaborative works. She has been an Associate Artist in Residence with Wally Cardona, Liz Lerman and Victoria Marks at the Atlantic Center for the Arts and was later invited by Lerman to work with her as part of the artists involved in “Must Do Now,” a collaboration with Jawole Willa Jo Zollar of Urban Bush Women. Her films have been screened in Miami, Scotland, Trinidad/Tobago, Greece and North Wales, in both traditional and non-traditional projection sites.
In 2014, she was the Community Artist in Residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts where she completed the third installment of The History House, an interdisciplinary project that is part live arts, part research experiment and has thus far taken place in Huelva (Spain), Miami and New Smyrna Beach (Florida). In it, she collects local history, personal narratives from the community and the town’s natural geography to create a work. To date, the project has lead to the dance for film Abandoned Transits (Huelva), a staged performance (Miami), and a performative installation (New Smyrna Beach) in a 100 year old, three-story house that challenged audiences to create their own personal performance experience.
Her most recent work Ofrenda was commissioned by Grass Stains, an initiative looking to expand the site-specific offerings in Miami through the Pioneer Winter Collective. In it, she and collaborating artists enter the space with both an understanding that memories live in landscape and the historical significance of space and place. The work is a collage of ritual, mythology, sound and movement that explores how site moves us and how a variety of traditions can dialogue within a shared geography. Her latest film work, The Warp and Weft will be presented as part of Screendance Miami in January 2017.
Márquez is also an informed and articulate writer and her current research examines the connections between political propaganda and the development of contemporary flamenco. Her essay on the development of “Flamenco Empirico” in Spain and its implications for the form, was recently published by MacFarllan Press in the upcoming Flamenco on the Global Stage: Historical, Critical and Theoretical Perspectives, edited by K. Meira Goldberg, Ninotchka D. Bennahum and Michelle Heffner Hayes.
Márquez is the recipient of a 2015 Dance Miami Choreographer’s Fellowship and is the 2015 Gillman Fellow at Jacksonville University. Her current research “Collage as Cartography,” examines the use of collage (and it’s affiliated approaches) as a methodology for composition when working in hybrid forms to explore how we can evidence the process in performance on various platforms.
My goal as an artist is to create performance experiences that examine the many intersections of tradition and vanguard to create new languages and expressions embedded in flamenco but informed by contemporary practices in dance and theater. My work is based on a deconstruction of traditional flamenco aesthetic and technique, and is constantly informed by collaborations with other artists of various disciplines. It is a flamenco that is syncretic, displaced, infused with cross-cultural underpinnings and is based on a somatic/shamanic approach to movement that although rooted in a style, remains flexible. For this, I draw on my Cuban roots, my experiences growing up in the mélange that is Miami, my experiences living abroad and the very deep and layered roots of flamenco.
For me, dance begins where language ends and is open to wider experiential interpretations. If culture is, in the words of Ana Mendieta, “the memory of history,” then dance becomes a way to embody that history’s essence. But what happens when your audience lacks the cultural context necessary to understand some of the subtle nuances? The creative process becomes a constant search that puts an intangible translation of concept and tradition into motion, allowing me to create a world that goes beyond the movement, to a place where my voice can channel that of my ancestors and the richness of this art form. This approach involves a constant negotiation between dance and non-dance, tradition and innovation, stereotypes and essence, that expands physicality beyond the limits of the body to include the space it inhabits and those who share it. It also requires that I constantly reexamine the possible intersections with other disciplines, as flamenco dance does not stand alone. Flamenco is much more than dance, it is music, poetry, history, politics and yes, economics. It is constantly negotiating space and all its implications and I find it impossible to create honest work without considering this nuance: it has been objectified, bastardized and used a political and economic tool, yet somehow it has never lost its essence as a vehicle for personal expression and a space for social, political and economic commentary.
Drawing from this tradition adds depth and context, but as an artist and researcher, I feel obligated to take the process a step further and question the implications of our search for true dialogue in contemporary society from a much more raw, radical and sensual/sensorial place. In my art-making, I return to a place of self-expression where performances are shared experiences, open to all who are willing to step into the fold. My current work includes staged performances, site-specific works, community engagement and advocacy, and dance films that deal with the female body and its links to notions of beauty and cultural memory and how it is passed down. Being in the middle of such diverse experiences and approaches gives me a unique position to bring the flamenco community out of its insular and self-protective spaces and create dialogue with the larger dance community. My aim is to create a situation of equity and inclusivity where a flamenco dancer can feel safe and supported to step out of the “tablao” or nightclub scene and into a more dynamic and experimental space for creation and innovation.