Niurca Marquez

Niurca Márquez is an artist/researcher with a wide range as a creator and performer in film, site-specific work, and staged performance, and a published author. Her work has been commissioned by and presented on various curatorial platforms in Europe and the US. In it, she continuously examines the many intersections of roots and creation, allowing new languages and expressions embedded in flamenco, but informed by contemporary marginal practices in dance and theater to emerge: a reflection on the work’s historical placement and potential implications within a contemporary performance setting. As a Latinx artist and activist on the margins advocating for silenced voices in scholarly discourse, she is particularly interested in notions of identity, cultural memory and ritual within a contemporary framework, as well as the multiple layers of communication and understanding in movement practices that lead to liaisons with political and social discourse. Her most recent work Urdimbre y Trama transits the space between immersive theater and site-specific performance to explore the mestiza body and the silencing of the liminal voices of mestizas through improvised text and movement.In addition to her own solo performances and choreography, Márquez is also a member of the Pioneer Winter Collective, a Miami-based performance group dedicated to democratizing performance. 

Her research has been published as part of Flamenco on the Global Stage (MacFarllan Press) and the Cambridge Scholars Publication Rituals of Modern Society: Perspectives on Dance Fusion in the Caribbean and Dance Sustainability. Niurca holds an MA in Latin American Studies from Florida International University (2001) and an MFA in Choreography from Jacksonville University (2017), where she was the 2015 Howard Gilman Fellow at White Oak.  She is part of the Rising Leaders of Color Initiative of Theater Communications Group, Cohort #4 (TCG, NY) and a 2019 graduate of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture Leadership Institute (NALAC, San Antonio, TX). Niurca directs Cultural Arts Exchange, an organization dedicated to expanding the conversation and offerings of the arts community in South Florida and the Caribbean, through artist services and programs centered on social accountability, as well as Co-Director of Nu Flamenco Collaborative which is committed to expanded understandings and offerings of the Andalusian art form in the US. She is also a founding member of FARO, a collaborative whose vision it is to create a space for rigorous creative/research that gives voice to thinkers and doers independently of institutional representation and recognition; work that is of and for the margin, and that recognizes the margin as a source of understanding and shifting perspectives. 

A note on my particular weave: I am concerned with the power of the collective voice and collaborative initiatives. Entering into dialogue with Ana and the other women responding to 1(-1) Materiality of Exile is a process I am eager to dive into, as it is aligned with my current desires. Fascinated by patterns and how they arise like beacons signaling next steps, I will respond in two ways: a personal thinking/writing practice at 11:11am for 11 minutes and a post each day at 11:11pm reflecting on the reflection (a collapsing of both the 3's that emerged from my conversations with Mayra Morales and Ana's 5 in the 5 exercise given to me at the same time). Due to upcoming travel, it is my intention to keep with the time zone I inhabit each time. I understand that there may be holes produced by the very process of displacement. During the month of November, all my performances are of pieces related to migration, the affectations that surround my body and how I respond. As an inevitable part of my reflections, I will be particularly concerned with how existing in this space is affecting the pieces I will be performing. It seems very fitting that this project should intersect with this particular month of activities and shifts, and even more fitting that when it begins, I will have just landed in Puerto Rico.

November 3, 2019

Note: The following is a collapsing of three days in one post.

As was to be expected, displacement made itself evident and keeping with my post became almost impossible. I have also decided, as a result of the practice itself, that my initial conception was a bit off. As such, I am switching my response mode and inverting the intial proposal. I will instead write at 11:11pm for 11 minutes and post each morning at 11:11am. I had tried to avoid this because of schedule conflicts, but as is also the case with me, the nature of the work (el trabajo, el accionar, el hacer) has imposed its own criteria for the motion to be authentic.

Y ahí empieza todo…en lo auténtico, lo real, lo palpable y lo que como resultado no puedo negar ni obviar. I am immediately alerted to the connections, the threads that weave us together in this journey. Like Penelope I find myself mid-weave. I am not good at sitting still or allowing things to run their course. No se de donde salió la necesidad de accionar como estado constante, pero aquí está. But I realize as soon as I read Ana’s words, that I have somehow found a stillness in this weave that is not about a waiting, an anxiety provoking state of stasis filled with expectations, but rather, a state of enjoyment, of reveling in each stitch and noticing how it is connected to a bigger self.

I land in Puerto Rico as Ana arrives at her destination
I too am dealing with a lack of connectivity but mine is due to my not having considered ahead of time how wrapped I would be in process
I arrive and the conditions are not what I anticipated
As usual, I have to scrap most of what I’d planned and go back to basics
Pero las brujas siguen tejiendo, así que pa’lante

In sticking with my plan, I am merely reflecting on the totality of the occurence, so there will be cracks, disconnects, wholes, lagunas, grietas finas en el jarrón, pero da igual. Where does my practice dovetail into the project? Two points jump out at me like screaming banshees, not in anger, but in mad laughter:

  • ·      I am finally starting to feel and see the very first signs of aging. Most would be surprised to read this, but I haven't paid much attention to grey hairs or wrinkles. This goes deeper. 
  •         I realize my displacement is not about being ripped from a place or having had to leave it, but instead about not being able to return. It’s about not having been given a choice and feeling like “home” was never home. “Home” was a place that existed in my imagination until I was 22 and visited the island for the first time. A place that instantly recognized me as from there, but a place where I could not stay. A place that I did not return to for 17 years and that since then have been to 10 times and if I can manage, 11 times by the time this year is over. Es que llego y me doy una conectada que no la puedo explicar.

I’d always heard say that Cuba and Puerto Rico are sister islands, that they are the two wings of the same bird and endless other analogies. I had not seen it. Yes, there were bits and pieces, but isn’t that true of all Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands? As a matter of fact, don’t we also share it with islands in general. But this time it’s different. It’s like ghosts from a past that have materialized. Maybe it has something to do with all this occurring around the Day of the Dead, Samhain, Los Fieles Difuntos, como le quieras llamar, da igual. The point is, all of that which ties me to that place of affect you speak of Ana is a flor de piel, impossible to deny.

Quizas por esto me fascina tanto la onda esta de affect theory. No me acerco a ello desde el intelecto, sino desde el caldero. Lo conozco, entiendo sus olores, su rítmos, sus sonidos y sus texturas. Sé como se siente en mi piel y como me coloca. Imposible negarlo. Al igual que tú, me entrego a ello. No me queda remedio.

I consider the number 11, the chaos and realize this is exactly what ensued upon arrival in Puerto Rico. Not because it was fast-paced or chaotic in the usual sense, but because the conditions I’d been working with in my head, were not what was in front of me upon arrival in the space.

I arrive and am faced with the following challenge:
I am outdoors on dirt under two quenepa trees (mamoncillo pa los Cubanos, similar to lychees but not quite)
I have brought a white train dress that I am hoping to sell, so damaging it would suck
I have a tangled mess of green bungee chords that I’m not even sure are one piece or various pieces and my collaborator who gave them to me doesn’t remember either
I want to dance barefoot, but those damned seeds make it impossible
I AM NOT an athletic dancer…what the hell have I gotten myself into it. What made me think I could just jump into working with bungees and be ok.

Luckily, I have an incredible network of brujas willing to ride the chaos with me.

I call on them
They respond
I take it in
Consider the possibilities
Have doubts
Try things
Have doubts
Decide what specific parts to ask each one about
Call on them again
Bounce more ideas back and forth
Have more doubts
Try more things
Get to a place I can go try things.

It’s 11:11. I have to post. More tomorrow.
Guess I’m not done with the three days after all.

But Penelope is present, the show I’m in is titled Hilos (Threads) so the weaving is there too and I have my own response/action loop going. Not a bad start.

*I will not translate pieces that you can understand by reading the text as a whole. I will translate pieces that if absent will not convey the fullness of the experience. I’ll try to remember to put them in italics.

Perhaps for this reason I am fascinated by affect theory. I do not come to it from an intellectual understanding. Instead, it is from my cauldron. I know it, understand its smells, its rhythms, its sounds and its textures. I know how it feels on my skin and how it situations me (positions me?). It is impossible to deny it. Like you, I surrender to it. I don’t have a choice.

And as soon as I post, I realize I've done so based on my old parameters and laugh at myself. I've never been very good at following directions, even my own. I promise I'll try to stick to it...starting tomorrow. 


November 4, 2019 (Writing begins at 11:11am)

I reread Ana’s post last night and went to sleep thinking about the tree, about mothers, about images and the ties that bind. I know I have to finish the download about the first of the 3 performances that I have chosen to intersect with this project, but this idea about images and their affective nature pulls on me. So many spilled into me in rapid fire during the performance. Each physicality conjured one until they were floating around like fireflies above my head. Cocullos…ya no se ven cocullos aquí como cuando ear niña.

Luckily, the image of the tree, the realness of it still in my body, the sensation of the bungees around my waist/perlvis and wrists (they are still quite tender, so it doesn’t take much for the recall to be instant) pull me back, back to the task at hand.

I realize now that the intersection of Materiality of Exile and my own praxis/performance is going to be led by this. I guess this is my personal materiality, my own “thinginess.” It comes in threes as usual. Three works that have all been transformations of something else, all acting upon each other directly and indirectly, part of a whole that is me, the me that never finds a stasis, whose “meness” is always temporal with a common thread.

…y aparece de nuevo el hilo conductor, el que obvio a veces y aveces hago caso. Pienso en las brujas y el tejido. Las buxas y su cuerpo politico. Cuerpos sin privilegio que de alguna manera han encontrado lo que significa esa palabra tan densa: agencia. Siempre la hemos ejercido, solo que ellos se han demorado en dares cuenta. Pero como meta en el feminism caribeño no salimos mas nunca…concentrate chiquilla.

Seven minutes of writing.

I’m supposed to be reflecting and all I can think of is the damned thread. The needle I can’t find. The sewing kit that is at Damaris’ house because I left it there last December when I had the brilliant idea of making tea cozies. They’re still unfinished. Dee has done much of the work. It was a good idea at the time. Threads. Hilos. Always present.

I go back to the pull still present in my body from the bungees and the tree. It reminds me that the body is indeed “object/subject/material/tool/landscape/and instrument." I go through all of these in the roughly 17 minutes the piece lasted. All these as well as, conduit, vessel, medium, amulet. Ironically, as I read, I also see how the landing of these words you are sharing Ana are filtering in even before I read them: a pinprick and drawing blood is necessary to capture the experience (and believe me it took a few tries, this is not my cup of tea en frio…performance is one thing, but ‘marking’ in reflection is new).

Why is it that we insist in translating/transposing ourselves? What would it take to have the discourse emerge from the experience of dance itself? Que tal si nos posicionamos?

So many of the textures in the video are akin to the textures of Zaida's piece that also acted upon my own in Puerto Rico.

My 11 minutes are up.

…a new thread appears, the one I ignore at times and at times pay attention to. I think of the wise ones (the witches) weaving. Bodies without privilege that somehow have found the meaning of that dense term: agency. We’ve always exerted it, it’s just that they are only now realizing it. But if I go into Caribbean Feminism/Womanism, we’ll never get out of it…concentrate woman.


November 5, 2019

I’m considering too much today. O compra brazo o vende camisa.

I am publicly betraying my parameters. I am posting at 11:11pm, writing at 10:33. Sleep is starting to set in. If I don’t do this, I will drift into the arms of Morpheus and today has been a day full of connections. There is an urgency I am starting to feel about the project. A necessity to put things down.

I’m not sure where I left off in recounting the performance. It doesn’t matter. A couple of hours ago I set out to wash the bata. It almost pained me to get rid of the dirt. The thing I was trying to avoid at all cost at first becomes the thing I am trying to hang onto. I find myself burying my nose in a heap of fabric. The scent is unmistakable. This dirt is sweet. It calls on my cellular memory. It wakes me somehow, like smelling salts, but much softer, deeper. It makes me think of the unique smells I’ve encountered in my latest collaborations. I wonder what this is all about. Why is this sense suddenly so important? I don’t think I’ve ever smelled a costume like this (other than to determine how much detergent to use). I’m surprised that there are not as many traces of the dirt as I’d expected. I don’t bother inspecting it for stains of the quenepas. This must be why it smells sweet. Funny how you don’t make the connections until you actually start to put it down on paper.

Connections, relations, yes, that is exactly what this is all about.

I use the section on Materiality to synthesize the last three weeks of class for my students in my Identity Consciousness and Performance: Hybridity, Mestizaje and Transculturation course. I don’t tell them, but it’s more for me than it is for them. Half of them look at me like I’m crazy. The other half have eyes that widen with each phrase and they are finally starting to understand the weave.

“The quantitative that requires attention to detail.” That part surfaced during the earlier first-year courses. The question there became, why must we equate the creative process to scientific experimentation in order to give it validity? Sound familiar? The first two classes were done collaboratively with Pioneer. I was stuck doing the last one by myself. These are so much more interesting as conversation. Even here I need collaboration.

Back to Puerto Rico…
I begin the performance on the ground. There is no clear start. I however, need the momentary suspension so that my senses can fully tune in to the space. I need to set up the deep listening. Otherwise, I will end up injured. I do not have enough time to familiarize myself with the bungees. I’ll admit here, it is the first time I will work with them. I have had some very clear pointers form Amber and my roughly 40 minutes to familiarize myself with some of the sensations. She mentions micromovements and micro-efforts. This I can manage. And yes, with the bata (train dress). Belén reminds me that there are many ways to approach the “threads”. What are the chords for you today? Are they coming from you or coming at you from outside? Is this about a push/pull or is it about being tied in puppet fashion? All of it is possible. What if I consider the various weaves? Damaris reminds me it’s about how we carry the dirt with us. This is ritual. The phrase is oddly similar to what Amber proposes:

“The dirt is your home.
 It is an opportunity to take your home into your arms
and embrace the material of ancient living land.”

This is definitely ritual.

The owner mentions this may have been part of burial grounds at some point. Did I mention this is all happening during Day of the Dead? Walter Mercado died that same day. But that is part of another story.

 The only way I will come out of this in one piece is if I am extremely aware of where the train is and trust that my soft focus will take are of the rest. I go from opening the senses to feeling the ground immediately around the bata, to letting the dirt run through my fingers. The entire section in silence is a preparation for what is to come; a fine-tuned attention to detail. Comienza la rumba. Once the music starts, the story is no longer mine to tell. My body becomes permeable and un sin fin de historias la traspasan (an endless number of stories traverse it). But this isn’t even about the “stories.” It’s about the threads.

"penelope caught in her own web..." Ana responds.


November 6, 2019 12:54 pm

Not 11:11pm. I am all over the place at this point and the response parameters are suffering. It's ok. At least I'm sticking to the one post a day y el enfrentarme conmigo misma.

I am not sure I'm understanding the totality of 'exile,' but there is a rumbling in my belly every time I hear or read the word and the very act of reading these posts is reconfiguring things on a cellular level.

Tia Adela died today.
The second oldest of my grandmother's sisters.
Tata, the oldest died in May.
Three days after I came home from seeing her in Pinar del Río, Cuba.
That trip I succeeded in convincing my grandmother to go.
It was the last time they saw each other.
I was not able to convince her to go to New Jersey a bit over three weeks ago.
She didn't get to see her this time.
Tia Adela recognized me despite the Alzheimer's.
She talked about me to those in the room as my three year old self, never addressing me directly because I didn't understand her.
My cousin laughed.
"At least it's nice to know you're still scrumptious at 43."
Abuela doesn't know it yet.
Tomorrow will be another day.
The first where she will be the only one left of her siblings.
I wonder what 'exile' will mean to her.

End 1:01am


November 7, 2019 10:01 pm EST  (11:01 CST)

I'm not in San Antonio yet, but today I feel the urgency. The second performance is upon me and I am beginning to realize that this had nothing to do with neat thinking at the two 11:11's. I am beginning to realize that the meat was in the relationality between what is being spoken/written/experienced about and what is happening in the three performances I am meant to complete during the duration of MoE. The hilos are starting their weave. 

Tía murió anoche. Ella era la que cosía. Ella también es la que se pasó la vida teniendo que cortar algodón, seda y carne.

Today I cannot translate. I hope you will forgive me and begin to get a glimpse as to why.


It is such a loaded term for me. El exilio. That thing I hoped to never be associated with. As the child of immigrant Cuban children, mine was not the exile. I am the child of the 'exhilic subject'. Yet, I am the one that has embodied the dislocation from the very beginning. Que interesante que ninguno de los putos términos que utilizan me han servido. Ninguno de los terminos para la experiencia de los de primera generación nacidos en EEUU me ha brindado tanto descanso, un sitio donde descansar, como el uso en este momento del término EXILIO!! Who would have thought. Who could have imagined that the term I've always associated with the portion of the community I long to distance myself from would be exactly the one to provide a scaffolding. A place to land my 'psychical demarcation'. I have to laugh out loud.

I'm considering this idea of exile as dislocation, and that as a disruption from proper place or state. And I can't help but think, what if the 'exilic transformations' of the 'exilic subject's children' is resistance (and not a yielding into) the "integration, adaptation and change"? What if my particular exile is characterized not by a 'desire to never return', but the exact opposite?  What if my exile is the push pull between the wanting to return and not being allowed to? What if the current changes in restrictions is actually exacerbating my exile? This will be the second time I experience this. Seems each time I get my hopes up this happens. Each time the relations between my island and my country of birth seem to improve, interests from above throw me back in the direction of the nostalgia. I was sitting so comfortably in the hope carajo. 

It seems I am eternally stuck between the 'negotiation' and the 'impossibility'.

I keep reaching into a moment were the 'psychical demarcation' becomes physical.

My exile has given me possibility and I have become the link.

But every time I feel the active transformation is within reach, I keep getting pulled back.

Soy un puto resorte. Un estado perpetuo.

Por fin puedo dejar descansar lo sucedido en Puerto Rico. Nunca había sentido tanta conexión en esas tierras. Quizás los muertos de mi exilio entendieron que necesitaba sentir la esperanza dentro de la nostalgia que aparentemente es inevitable.


considering November 8, 2019

there was no post today. too much sadness. too much loss (or is it too much saying good-bye?). and simultaneously too much work to pay more attention than is necessary to keep putting one foot in front of the other. i even left my phone charging in some random place by accident or lack of attention. then there are the minute details of my craft that I don’t need to concentrate on to slip into. i realize this has long been my landing place within my exile. the only place I can safely call home.

no post today. only realizations.

 "in this territory there is no yesterday, only today and only if you succeed in this today, will you be able to even consider a tomorrow".


November 9, 2019 1:15pm in San Antonio, 11:15am somewhere

Simultaneously inhabit

residue from 11/8:
a time reference to New Jersey. mom is there for the funeral. she is the only one able to be there physically. there is a strange triad created between her body in NJ, mine in San Antonio and Abuela in Miami. Abuela is fully aware she is the only one left now. she shares is with a cracking voice. what is this new exile like? it is definitely involuntary.

I open Facebook to a response from my Dad. He is responding to my post about this project. My dad is on FB but NEVER uses it and CERTAINLY never responds to any of my posts. We decided long ago not to talk about politics or religion too deeply and not at all if possible. We love each other too much. He is responding to my comment about the witches continuing to weave. “A Dios le dicen brujas.” Ay Papi…you make it so easy for me…”a veces” (“sometimes” with a winking emoji).

I am beginning to understand the threads of my response, the reweaving of bits and pieces, of the fragments of my own exile and that of the others present. As usual it sits in the grey matter not apparent to all, but I’m ok with that because it generally is just the wind-up for el reguilete or am I meaning resorte (maybe a strange amalgamation of both). The mere mention of magical realism and my mind enters a weird altered state that even I have a hard time deciphering at times. But focus Niurca. Focus. You’re supposed to be responding to this. Not making it your own personal dumping ground…but wait, isn’t there an element to the response that is purely mine, in direct conversation with my own exile? Carajo. Even here, in this space dedicated to exile, I can’t seem to grasp mine. It’s like a hummingbird that repeatedly slips through my hands and when I’m on the floor and panting of exhaustion from the exercise of attempting to grasp it, it comes and settles on the tip of my nose. It seems like it is taunting me at times. At others like it’s reminding me that it is here to stay.

Ana mentions the resistance. For me the release is more important. There is an abandonment, a giving in to exile that I read in the women’s stories. An agency exerted within the available structure. I have seen too much of it to ignore it. Only those able to navigate the terrain with the minute attention to detail Ana describes and make decisions based not on what is expected, but what is deemed important (like Griselda’s embroidered clothes) can experience it. In this place, resistance has the potential to become yielding and generative. This is the place of activating the space between the nostalgia and hope of exile. It’s the holding of all of it and inhabiting it all simultaneously. It also moves. It shifts ever so slightly like the words on this screen if I try to focus too hard. Does that happen to anyone else out there? Like they are threatening to suddenly reorder themselves in a game of catch me if you can?

The resistance is the drawing back of the bow. There I play with micro-tensions and micro-efforts. But what I really find fascinating is the moment I have to decide whether to release the arrow or not. La arquera. As usual, there is another work already taking shape in my head, the one that will actually come out of this. I am beginning to understand my parameters. 1 post per day in direct response to 1 overarching element of exile supplied by Ana or one of the other amazing women I am now sharing space with. Holding Amber physically yesterday shook something loose. That transference from the Amber in this virtual space to the one of flesh and bone in front of my raw barely held together self, gave me footing. Something I the act of giving her the shorts I brought her from Cuba made something else concrete. The emergence of the figure of the archer also reminds me this is my card for the year. This is much bigger than what is immediately in front of me. As is always the case, this will lead to the next place. But I must survive (“succeed”) this “today” to “even consider a tomorrow.”

Today I perform FOLD. It is the second of the three works I have set out to allow MoE to re-shape, re-inform. My work is a long line of weaves with the materiality of my identity, my exiled self, ni de aquí, ni de allá. Like Damaris, I walk with the sadness of not being considered from my favorite place, but also with the knowing of not being from anywhere concrete. I don’t have the palm trees to hold onto. I do not have the waters of Varadero to take me in. I do not have the smell of humanidad that I love from the streets of Havana to land. And I have it all. All of it exists like a Macondo of my imaginarium where I am me with no questions asked. Maybe this is why I have the habit of grounding pieces of my exile in people. They are after all of flesh and bone, palpable. I need to stop doing this because each time they are no longer around, I have to rebuild the piece, find it, situate it all over again. It gets tiring. I think this is why I created FOLD in the first place, to respond to the affects of space instead of actual people. To improvise in and around my response to the immediate items, terms, elements, sensations in my immediate surroundings. I transition out of that with an ayuba (prayer) to my ancestors and then into a recorded piece of music that already holds a structure for me. Each time, I allow the cumulo, la acumulación, the aggregate created by the journey to guide the final improvisation. This piece is always re-generating. It re-informs, re-shapes, re-situates.

And just as I am about to finish this post, I get a message on Instagram from a dancer I barely share space with and certainly don’t ever exchange messages with who is originally from Pinar del Rio (where my mother’s family is from, the side of the abuela and tia abuela I’ve been speaking of). His picture on a horse came up this morning with a caption about ‘returning home,’ and now this. The message is simple. A picture of him with his poncho and hat taken from a low angle so the light difumina his head and face, followed by three messages. Luz (light), Amor (love), Expanding movimiento (expander movimiento). He is like my own personal Walter Mercado reminding me that I will be ok. This one knows one additional secret beyond the light and mucho, mucho love…movement is necessary for all this to land, and it is time for it to expand.


November 10, 2019 8:40pm...11:40 somewhere

I'm exhausted. Last night I performed the two most demanding works in my repertoire back to back. I thought of you Ana. FOLD demanded bare feet once again. Salí ilesa. Very fine attention is needed to navigate the different terrains: concrete, sand, rough concrete, mosaics and back to concrete pressed to imitate adobe.

Once again I had to let dirt/sand run through my fingers and onto the surface of the bata. This time there was more sand on the bata than there was dirt in PR. Maybe by the next one I'll end up buried in it.

Today Amber asked a group of artists at a panel, "If I gave you a handful of dirt, what would it mean to you?' I chimed in and said, "dirt or sand." I was thinking of Joshua Tree. I was thinking of deserts. Yet Bonnie, one of the artists from San Antonio (no que estabamos en el desierto?) said, "sands are for beaches and I don't like beaches." Ana de Luna speaks of the dirt pies eaten as a child; "guess that's why I'm not allergic to anything." I know Amber will speak more to this. For me, all I could think of was the stark difference between dirt and sand. And the different kinds of dirt. For now, how neither the one in Puerto Rico, or the sand in last night's sandpit, left much of a trace. It was stuck in the crevices, sure, but not much more. That leads me to think of the tears, the spaces of separation, fine lines that can feel like schisms. I'm reminded of the "scar" in London post-Doris Salcedo's work. I'm reminded of the spaces between tectonic plates. I'm reminded the the cracks in hot earth under a desert sun. I remember observing them closely every time I'd run into them while living in Albuquerque, NM. Albuquerque, the first place I ever arrived where I was struck by how brown everything was. The city that allowed me to finally come into contact with the music of the homeland that was not mine and the songs I had no access to because I was a child of "el exilio". Síntesis, Cuba band created in 1976; the same year I was born. The CD I first bought at Allá Records in Downtown Albuquerque. The same place I bought my Celina y Reutilio CD. Not even Esperanto records on Miami Beach had these rare finds. Síntesis who I would finally see live the first night at FAC in Havana when I finally returned in 2017. I digress. Amber will speak more on this.

Today Amber's reminder that dirt is home, Damaris' insistence that Traspasos II in PR last week was about how we carry the dirt with us and that shared by the artists today in the panel, particularly Bonnie's definition as dirt as somewhere to "safely hide" until the growth is ready to emerge, stay with me. Exile, condición suspendida y temporal que no corresponde a nada más que un profundo desarraigo, pero sin melaáncolía. Ana you're going to have to translate that one because none of the english translations I can find for desarraigo are working for me right now. None of them contain the pulling from a rooted place and the cracks left in the earth after the pull. 


November 11, 2019 did not happen. I was in transit. In the air. The ultimate in-between. The delays made it impossible to land anything. And yet, just shortly after 11:11pm, somewhere between San Antonio and Miami, everything started to fall into place.


November 12, 2019 11:01pm

Today is Padrino's birthday.

I'm thinking of Ana's comment of sand and how it appears anywhere were time has broken stone.

I look around the table and I realize there are some pieces that remain the same and some that do not. Cores that remain, but are forever altered.  Others that disappear all together and all that is left is the residue...the sand. Sands of time.

I am transported back to white sand falling over a red bata. A contrast to the brown dirt sprinkled on the white one just a week before. There is more of the white on red than there was of that particular shade of brown on the white. La próxima la entierro. Looking down on the white sand over the red bata, I long to burry the next bata.

I'm reminded of Bonnie's comment about the earth being a place to remain safe during the growth process. A place for hiding the growth until it is ready to come out. There was a time when I was concerned, as she is now, of being judged for the growth I'd done. Ya no tanto. But this is new growth. I want to remain buried a little longer.

It was Bonnie who equated sand to the beach, not Ana. Ana was talking about tierra, "all the pictures I have of me as a kid, I'm dirty. We would make little pies and eat dirt. Maybe that's why I'm not allergic to anything." Ana is the one who brings up the not belonging anywhere else, the coming back as important. This prompts Amber to say something that burrows into my core: "San Antonio is where I release my weight, where my feet can land." Suddenly, it is strikingly similar to my landings in Havana. The sensation that I can exhale; release even the weight of the air that fills my lungs.

Too bad I can't bury the bata in tomorrow's performance. It's happening on concrete and on a stage. Maybe I can consider burying myself in the images of mujer_cita_MIA.


This has just hit me.

The version I am doing now with the live dancing in front of the original film version mentioned above is entitled mujer_cita_Havana. Dinorah, the filmmaker I am collaborating with, has pulled one on me. In this game, mujer_cita_Havana can only exist superimposed and dependent on mujer_cita_MIA. MIA as in Miami, specifically Miami International Airport, but we will forgive, just for now, the complexity she has just thrown me into. My exile has just been simultaneously exposed and complicated. Mierda. Thanks Ana and Dinorah. Even when you do not do it intentionally, you pre-pave (as Damaris loves to say) the inevitable for me.


Bad connections and rawness have made it impossible for me to post, but as I cut and past to post my next entry, I realize I left this out and today I feel it is important. It says 11/11/19 above it.

I have handed over pieces of my exile. Really, I have had people open doors that allow me to step through and access it, and then instead of saying thanks, I’m good, I say, nah, you hang on to the key.

I turn these people into “gate-keepers” of the materiality that at some point either was not or has not been accessible to me, or that I feel is not accessible to me. Each time I do this, I am struck with another need to process the loss when something shifts in relation to that other person. The stories are interwoven. I wonder if anyone else does this.


November 15, 2019, I have no idea at what time I started writing this. It's now 8:19pm (the reference chart reveals nothing about where it is 11:19pm, but it's 11:19 and 11:49am in Adelaide and Brisbane, Australia, respectively, so I'll take it)

It’s been two days since the last of the three works I was allowing this shared space to shape. I’m in Wilmington, NC. I’ve had not internet connection the last two days every time I try to sit and write. It’s ok. I’m raw anyway and not sure I can be coherent. Of the three, it is perhaps the one most affected by my exile. Or is it simply that the exchange has been going on now for a while and now the exile is more real than it was before, it’s lines more clear?

I love Olga’s laugh
Griselda’s lips
These drafts are becoming lifelines
I don’t exist here
Reparations must be made at the banks of this river
This is not my story
There are no places to hang onto

I am looking for the Black spoken word artist that has introduced the two events I’ve been at. I’m trying to reference him, but I cannot find him anywhere on the program. I was about to say that he was vocal about what I was silenced, but now that I cannot find him anywhere, and I’m wondering about his presence. I am feeling the disjointedness of the exile, the displacement, while simultaneously feeling the intersections. It is all a chorus right now.

But back to the performance, back to the exile. I was intending to improvise, to use the affects of space to prepare for the work on stage immediately following. I’ve always been able to use something, anything. Aquí no hay de donde agarrarse. A esta gente no le importa lo que sucede. Ellos no tienen porque preocuparse. Nada de esto forma parte de su realidad. La violación de mujeres Latinas no les afecta. Nada de lo que se está diciendo en el audio les llega. They don’t hear any part of this chorus. None of the details jump out at them. They are unaffected and as a result, I have nothing to work with. There is no narrative to weave here. Only anger, only frustration. Only emotion. So I go cold. I pull on the sensations of broken skin over rocks and pebbles. The bruises on my feet from the last two performances. Griselda’s roots allow me to stay grounded as I write. I am not sure if this response makes any sense. What is written on the surface has nothing to do with the project, but the structures that I am responding to at the moment (socially at least) have everything to do with displacement and a sense of being stuck between the nostalgia and hope. I feel I am free-falling.

I am sure now that my exchange with you Ana on language, was not about translation. It is due to the very particular way in which I personally take in information. It has to do with never-ending code-switching, a constant landing in a space that I share with very few. Griselda’s story is my grandmother’s story. I too love La Llorona. The many versions and various interpretations take me back to the 12 princesses. She has been present since I met you Ana. The story surfacing now in Griselda’s lips gives me comfort. This brings me back to the weaving. How we weave the details together and how these details, like a warm blanket, can be comforting. Ser feliz.

I go back to Tanya’s hand. You speak of listening to rhythm and not what is actually being said. (I swear this is all connected somehow, even if I don’t have words for it). This video grounds me. The water, the drip, the hand gesture, the letra. They are all very vivid elements of my imaginarium. They serve to ground me. My next exile is around the corner. Suddenly what I felt might be lost is found here in Tanya. This leads me to look for the last track I heard that letra. (I can’t wait to see Griselda dance). Of course it’s a bulerías, the rhythm where I feel the most displaced. Not today. Gracias Tanya.

I need a task to ground me, so I go to Ana’s prompts for the women. I need something real, concrete, meat. This feels real.

- Canción favorita: This is determined by stages. “Zapata se Queda” by La Colmena has been bringing me joy for a while now. “Take this waltz” by Leonard Cohen is another all-time fav.

- Memoria (o momento perfecto): There are a few, but when I read this, I thought of the moments I spent under the key lime tree in my back yard as a child. I had to be careful to enter the web of branches just right cause otherwise the thorns would get me. I loved standing in the center of that web and looking up. It was a mangled mess of thorns and branches and leaves and I loved every millimeter of it.

- Persona importante: Abuela (Hilda)
- Quien soy?: I never know how to answer this. I always feel so unprepared to answer this. So incomplete.

- Describe tus manos: I have my Abuela Manuela’s hands. I used to love painting her nails as a kid. I remember the first time I realized mine were like hers. I felt a sense of pride and loss. She died when I was 10. They are my most prized possession of her. My friend Berto is in love with my hands. He says I have pianist hands. Ironic because my mom refused to teach me how to play.

- Tus ojos: Hazel. They change colors. If I’ve been crying too much or I’m in the ocean they turn a crisp green. There was a telenovela in the late 80’s where one of the characters would go into trance and her eyes would turn yellowish green. Mine do something similar if I stare into certain lights for a while. It hurts, but I loved to do it to scare my little brother. He’s still convinced it happens naturally.

- Baile favorito: Which one of me do I post this question to? Tangos and Yambú o un Guaguancó lento.

- Gestos de trabajo: hands washing a stain out or hands on a rolling pin thinning out empanada covers.

- Gestos de esperanza: una mano extendida

- Gestos  de pérdida/ausencia: hands palms up, fingers outstretched and arching downward…like when you’ve let it all fall out

- 11 palabras favoritas...not yet

Note: I am purposely not reading Ioanna’s posts because I’m afraid of losing myself in my ADD and having too many tendrils to pay attention to that would make it impossible to stick to my original intention. So far I haven’t been doing a great job, but the intent is there. It’s been guiding me. However, after this last semi-private exchange with Ana on Guadalupe’s chorus and the rawness of the inconsequential I am feeling, I am itching to dive in. To find comfort in someone else’s weaving; to exit the discomfort of this confrontation with my very personal brand of exile.


November 15, 2019, 11:30pm in Wilmington, NC

This is the extent of my intervention as set out by my original parameters. The final reflection on my own writing and my own private thoughts, as connected to what emerged of exile in the last of the three performances of previously existing work. I know there will be additional spillage on exile and responding to responses. I still have Ioanna’s post to read after all.

11 palabras favoritas:

1.     cuajar
2.     materiality (I swear. I’ve always loved how it rolls off the tongue and how it encases so much more than it seems at first glance.)
3.     beautiful (I had a very hard time learning to spell it. I think it’s why I love it)
4.     concrescence
5.     asentar
6.     aquelarre
7.     tejer
8.     idiosincracia
9.     saudade (because you can’t translate it)
10.  transculturality
11.  otorinolaringólogo (I used to love saying it as a kid and I still do)

I realize now why that tiny detail in Guadalupe’s score seemed so important. It’s not that I minded that it was not an exact translation. It’s that the fact that it seemed inconsistent to my bilingual brain with the rest of it. I’ve given up on translating. It bothers me. Me perturba. It is a reminder that I must always be the one to adapt. But in this case, something about the score, made much more evident after listening to the other two, seemed inconsistent. My brain was registering it as an inconsistency. I found myself frustrated that I couldn’t find the words to get at what I was sensing. It was the prevalence of translation in this one (because even if it was not intended, there is enough for my bilingual self that obsesses over language to latch on to), that made that one detail stick out. There is something in the score that sets up the expectation of the translation for me. After discussing this with Damaris I stress: for me.

Then Ana shares the missing nugget. The piece that makes me jump and go: that’s it!

“Audio sound as a vehicle for something else. Vehicle for their stories. Vehicle for putting us in a particular listening mode.”

I realize that in Guadalupe, the listening mode for my bilingual brain was in fact translations, albeit partial and incomplete, but woven. I found myself waiting for the piece that would connect the two codes that reside within. They didn’t come in the same order all the time. I was unconsciously enjoying the treasure hunt. Figuring out what was deemed important enough to translate or too important to translate. What got the code-switch and what did not. There is a weaving of both Spanish and English here and I was unintentionally finding their intersections.

“It is not just about a perfect translation”

Never thought it was. It’s just that what was translated, seemed to be so.

“Moving away from the telling of the story to the dialogue,
…Where there is a call and response
Dialogue – multiple points of view”

This sits in a different place for me. This does not require the integrity of the story that was first set out as central to the methodology (again, because of the importance of language and its meaning). This has room. This breathes. This makes me exhale.

“She was very philosophical. Everything had a weight and a rhythm. Everything was very specific”

This is probably why I had the question and the question seemed urgent.

Perdona que haya jodido tanto con esto. Es que no puedo evitar que para mí, las palabras al igual que la tierra, “se esfum(en) como burbujas al viento, diáfanas y puras pero al fin de cuenta vacías, como suspiros exhalados al aire.” Their weight is temporal and fickle. 

I can’t help it. This no-man’s land between two languages and how they are woven together is one of the temporal landing pads of my exile.

"No somos de donde nacimos, somos de donde decidimos quedarnos."
I am not from where I was born, from where I was, or even from where I am; I am from a place where I would choose to stay if I could. But I can’t.

I love the lack of pauses in Griselda. The “that’s who she is,” is felt.


November 30, 2019 5:45pm in Miami

I have been taking it all in for a while. I had to become a quiet observer for a bit because the process put me in a very raw state and I was dangerously close to melancholy, something we have all been trying to avoid. I’ve been reaching for the grey matter between hope and nostalgia ever since.

As always, it is the resonance in our storytelling, our desire (I’m still working on this one, but it feels like it makes sense today) as women, to mirror our lived experiences to each other. This strange sense of “I see you,” “I’ve got you,” reconocernos, has been my anchor these past few weeks as I sat by and witnessed. Porque a veces nos toca cayarnos la boca para dejar que otras hablen.

A story has been unfolding here. A central part to my story. A part I am not yet ready to share, but very willing to sit in as I write this. The boxes have had me thinking, quivering, dreaming…

Conceding power have also been a through-line of this new chapter unfolding, but that we can talk about when you come to Miami, Ana.

Exile is a condition of being…I’m still hearing your video in my head…and I am coming to understand it is only the temporal components of the exile that change, but the condition of exile persists.

Today the idea of dirt as a place of safety until one is ready to emerge landed in the studio again, on another project, with another group of exiles (I’ve only just recognized them as such as I write this, but understand there have been multiple conversations of the materiality of exile thought the word has not been used: flying ancestors, time-travel, black punk aesthetics and a number of other components that would derail this post if I continue down this rabbit hole). That was enough to bring me back, to knock me out of the fear and into the hope. Maferefún Eleguá (God of the Crossroads).

I am dreaming of all of us coming together.

I am still quite sad I could not make the virtual gathering. Estaba volando.

As all of this was happening, I unearthed a poem written on Yule (December 21) 2018 in Havana, Cuba. It seems fitting to share it. First, because it is woven into the fibers of this journey and second, because it apparently needed to stay hidden in the pages of someone else’s writing until it needed to be shared.

It is not yet edited, its structure has not yet taken form, but its meat is here and exposed. I have taken it from the pages on which is was written as is, with those breaks that were dictated by the page size and blank space (I wrote it in the blank spaces of Richard Blanco’s Matters of the Sea/Cosas del Mar and have to admit part of the provocation was the translation).

How is it that often we do not recognize the pattern
until the weave is complete. Like a little worm
burrowing a labyrinth whose complexity and beauty
and dare I say, its errors are not revealed
until it stops acting/accionando, Acion”ate”
accionar. Verbo complejo de recovecos y
sentidos elusivos. Porque las brujas siguen
tejiendo, a pesar de las dificulatades, de
los obstáculos, las alegrías y los logros.
A quickening that cannot be silence and
is propelled forward by necessity, by desire.
Necesidad y deseo, ambas enredadas
en una maraña imposible de deshacer.
Hacer, seguir accionando, es lo que nos
toca a las mujeres, es lo que siempre
hemos tenido, the thing that cannot be
taken away from us: the doing masked as
menial, as cotidiano, inevitable, necesario,
fuerza, poder. Fierce women who are “too
much.” Perhaps you are not enough. Perhaps
you are not worthy de tanta grandeza, de
tanta fuerza, pero las brujas siguen tejiendo.
We continue to weave because we have no
choice. Not because you push us to, because
entendemos. Entendemos that it is a space
 of power, poder, of propulsion, of intuition
that guides, that cements, that
reveals, that makes real, that
brings into be-“ing.” “La canasta de
hilos es un pulmón que palpita.
Una a una le arrancas las hilachas y
va quedando una espina pelada que eres tu.
Miras tus raises…
Gordas agujas tejen tus huesos contra la
tierra.”* But those bones are not woven captive.
Those bones understand los misterioso de la
tierra. Those bones se recargan de los secretos
más profundos, se remontan al pasado, no
por el afán de lamentarse, si no, para
re-cargarse, re-ponerse, re-tomar and move
forward. evolucionarse. De vuelta a los
fantasmas, not the kind that linger with
unfinished business, the kind that remind
you there is still more: more to do, more
to say, more to love,
(more to be, the act of be-coming, the unfinished
the unending weave, el final sin terminar…
Porque las brujas siguen tejiendo.

Vedado, La Habana, Cuba
on Yule, just past 1am
la noche más larga

*Taken from Antonieta Villamil’s Tejedoras de Fronteras