Welcome to the space of the nobodies and the forgotten! I’m Juan Manuel. I will be your GSI for summer 2017. As of three weeks ago, I am a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in performance studies. My work examines choreography and contemporary dance across the United States-Mexico borders. My current research project gives specific attention to Mexican contemporary choreographers working in cities such as Mexico City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. I just started my field work this year; that is, I am out and about conducting interviews with choreographers, watching performances, listening to debates about performance theory and aesthetics in Mexico City, and watching a lot of dance films/shows in dark spaces with strangers that I will never know. My future project will examine the role of the dance quebradita in non-traditional, migrant receiving cities such as New Orleans, Salt Lake City, and Omaha. Qubradita was a dance genre popular among working-class migrants in the United States and the rural populations in Mexico.
For this blog, I am choosing the theme “the nobodies.” I decided to take inspiration from the 2016 film Los Nadie (The Nobodies). The film follows a group of punk youth in the barrios of Medellín, Colombia. They use juggling, friendship, and punk music as a way of life. This story charts my personal interest into the spaces and forms of belonging where the nobodies and the forgotten hang out. I grew up undocumented in Utah. As a working-class Mexican existing outside of the legal bounds of political citizenship and at times below the poverty line, my sense of belonging was informed by being considered the worst threat to the imaginary of “America.” I consumed television, performances, and music that gave me a sense of belonging to the nobodies and anybody’s: the working-class labor force in and outside of Mexico. I watched telenovelas ( Marimar), listened to Mexican rock/punk (Rebel’d) and Mexican banda (El Mexicano), and cried repeatedly while watching films such as Los Olvidados (The Young and the Damned) (1950), West Side Story (1961), and Macario (1960).
When I am not watching a performance or writing about a choreographer, I spend my time on Netflix watching the London-based show Chewing Gum. The show is written by and stars Michaela Coel, who plays Tracey, a working-class girl who lives in a municipal housing project. I look forward to working with you as we examine television, social media, and performance. We will work together through this labyrinth of nobodies, anybody’s, and the forgotten to understand how power works through the intersections of gender, race, sexuality, faith, and class.