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By Eva Yaa Asantewaa
David Zambrano’s electrifying collective of performers tours the U.S.
Take a batch of performers, hailing from places like Slovakia, Mozambique, and South Korea, game for anything. Plop them down in an art gallery, fish market, even an actual stage. No chairs: Let your audience drift, settle, and drift some more. Crank up the volume on classic soul—James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle—as one extravagantly costumed dancer after another spontaneously seizes ground anywhere amid the milling crowd and explodes into a song-length solo, not just making up movements but touching primal, electric ecstasy comparable to the driven voices.
This is Soul Project, directed by world traveler/master improviser David Zambrano, a native of Venezuela now based in Amsterdam. New York got its first, unforgettable taste in 2010 during Ralph Lemon’s i get lost platform at Danspace Project, a series of events tracing links between performance and trance. That same year, a 50-stop tour took Soul Project to adventures in Senegal, Poland, Costa Rica, and beyond. Zambrano discovered that “our way of dancing reaches much further than what we thought, helping us to become more interconnected with our planet Earth. Our audience can be anyone in this world.”
In Slovenia, one dancer veered out into traffic, confronting a street full of angry drivers. “For a moment we thought he’d get injured,” Zambrano said. “But by the end of his solo, everyone was happily smiling. One of the best shows we ever had.”
Part of Soul Project’s immediacy and wonder is that you never can tell where one of its virtuosic solos will break out. But you can learn where to experience this phenomenon when it returns to the U.S. this spring. Details on the Milwaukee, New York, San Francisco, Austin, Stanford, Minneapolis, and Miami engagements can be found at www.mappinternational.org.
Edivaldo Ernesto in Soul Project. Photo by Anja Hitzenberger, Courtesy MAPP.