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Touring History: Tórtola Valencia Between Europe and the Americas

  • Michelle Clayton

Extract

In 1907, the Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío published the collection El canto errante [The Wandering Song], containing a poem entitled “La bailarina de los pies desnudos” [“The Barefoot Dancer”]. The title leads the reader to anticipate an aesthetic of lightness and simplicity, yet the poem is weighted down by its many cultural references: at least one per line, and barely harmonizing amongst themselves. Its space is heavily perfumed, thickly ornamented, animated by the movements of a dancer who invokes different cultural references and plastic forms with each extended limb, each trembling body part. At first sight sinuously seductive, this central figure unravels into a welter of fragments and contradictions: both animal and divine, eroticized and chaste, a lunar deity (Selene) and a literary character (Anactoria), a “constellation of examples and of objects” (constelada de casos y de cosas) whose body, as the line suggests, barely contains its referential chaos.

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Touring History: Tórtola Valencia Between Europe and the Americas

  • Michelle Clayton

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