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Karla Sánchez Zepeda
Culture Barter in Aculco, México

We had the incredible privilege and pleasure to take part this April in the seminar "The Actor: Composer and Catalyst of Culture" and in a couple of cultural barters in Aculco and Mexico City, México.

They were all led by musician, director and actor Kai Bredholt of the Nordisk Teaterlaboratorium-Odin Teatret, and Erika Sánchez, flamenco dancer and singer.

A "Barter" is an encounter that in a theatrical form is trying to describe a place and the people whom inhabit it, using their songs, music, poetry, machines, sports, traditions, animals, and daily-life activities.

The only way for a Barter to happen is by taking the time to meet people face to face. It is amazing what a cup of coffee/tea/soda will do in starting a conversation with others.

We learnt so much from the process and feel extremely fortunate that we were able to witness Kai and Erika doing what they do best.

At every point there was the uncertainty of the uknown and unexpected, tons of physical and mental work. Every day we ran, did yoga, learnt how to dance "Sevilanas", trained in various Odin-exercises, learnt songs in Danish, Swedish, English and Spanish, worked on theatre scenes, met with different people from the town... There were lots of twists and turns, but the entire process was utterly inspiring and full of lessons about our own limits, those of others, and the many ways in which we can nevertheless come together, give and receive.

At Aculco we met a wonderful community of traditional dancers that never lost their smile, despite of the hours, and hours, of monotonous dance under scorching sun. We also slowly got to meet the various shop owners, teachers, and students working in different parts of the town. We were hosted by the lovely members of Catábasis Teatro.

In Mexico City we attended a shorter form of Barter, called a "Banquete" or Banquet. It took place at La Nana, a fabulous place full of history in the limits of a rough area of downtown. We met wonderful singers, dancers and artists who every day choose to believe in the power of the arts to make lives better. At La Nana many disadvantaged children, teenagers and adults, can avail of free classes of photography, painting, film, salsa and other.

It was not easy to leave Mexico, but we hope to be able to return soon and to use some of the lessons learnt in our own lives in Wexford.

"_Estos muchachos se van, se van, para no volver jamás, jamás, a este pueblo...

Para que vuelvan algún día, tendrán que hacer otra fiesta, palomita.._."

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