Factory Theatre opened its latest season with Carmen Aguirre’s Broken Tailbone this past Thursday. This is a co-production with Nightswimming. A rare, intimate journey into the hidden world of Latinx dance halls in Canada, Broken Tailbone explores themes of politics, culture and sexuality through Aguirre’s moving and funny personal stories.
First things first, this is an immersive experience. Picture yourself at a Latinx dance hall and Aguirre a.k.a. ‘La Jefa’ leads you in a dance class of sorts. With carefully curated music by DJ Don Pedro a.k.a. ‘El Jefecito’, you travel through time from the 1970s to present day.
‘La Jefa’ leads the audience in an informative and fun salsa dance lesson. Broken Tailbone is inspired by the playwright’s personal stories and experiences in Canada’s Latinx dance halls. Through this immersive set up, everyone takes in Aguirre’s & DJ Don Pedro’s stories.
I, for one, always enjoy immersive experiences in the arts. They force us to pay attention, to be an active participant, to challenge ourselves, or to learn something new.
Some of my favourite parts in Broken Tailbone include Aguirre talking about one of her uncles, who introduced her to some great protest songs from Latinamerica. Another favourite part includes stories about the political turmoil of many Latin-American countries while ‘El Jefecito’ plays very key songs in the background.
Some of the most poignant moments, for me, come when Aguirre talks about displacement. She says something along of the lines of “we’re here because the North [USA] is there.” Meaning, many of us Latinamericans have left our country of birth because of political meddling from the US government, which has made life ‘back home’ no longer viable for many.
Also important is Aguirre’s explainations about how the songs came about, who were the people the songs were written for, the dance steps that often accompany these songs, and what the lyrics mean in English.
Of course, I also really like how Aguirre talks about sex and her own sexuality while the audience continues to dance along with her. We hear about some of the men in her life: The ‘good macho’ who treats women as equals. The Cristiano Ronaldo look-alike with whom she spent a very memorable night. It’s great to hear about a woman’s sexuality without it being apologetic in any way. It’s refreshing and liberating.
Throughout the show, Aguirre gently forces us to move about the dance floor; coaxing us to dance with another person, or try some new dance moves. All the while listening with our entire body.
In this salsa lesson, we experience the power of radical protest through storytelling, dance, and music. We dance and we laugh with Aguirre and DJ Don Pedro in this powerful, personal, and sexy experience. Broken Tailbone leaves you filled with the strength of radical resistance, connected to the Earth and your body, and with one or two new dance moves.
Broken Tailbone continues at Factory Theatre until October 12, 2019. Please wear comfortable clothing and shoes for this performance. For more details, to reserve a seat or if you require an accessible area, and to order your tickets, please visit factorytheatre.ca.
Bonus: Here is the complete playlist of songs in the show. Los dejo con el mix de todas las canciones de este show que me han hecho recordar muchas memorias de mi infancia en Guatemala. Espero lo disfruten amig@s!