Amanda Piña, a Researcher of Ancestral Forms of Movement, Appointed Valeska Gert Visiting Professor at Freie Universität Berlin

Amanda Piña, a researcher of ancestral forms of movement, has been appointed Val
Amanda Piña, a researcher of ancestral forms of movement, has been appointed Valeska Gert Visiting at Freie Universität Berlin. Image Credit: Bea Borgers
Amanda Piña, a renowned choreographer of Chilean and Mexican descent, will take up the Valeska Gert Visiting Professorship at Freie Universität Berlin for the 2024 summer semester. The artist will present her work and discuss how the reappearance of ancestral forms of movement is a way of knowing through metamorphosis, as a form of dance and performance beyond the western frame of representation, at an event at Akademie der Künste on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, at 7:00 p.m. The event is being carried out with the support of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). It is free of charge and will be held in English. Members of the public are warmly invited to attend.

Amanda Piña splits her time between Vienna and Mexico City. As an artist she draws from her mixed ancestry (Mestiza, Cheje), which includes Mapuche, Spanish, and Syrian-Palestinian roots. Piña is a plurifaceted artist working through choreographic and dance research, creating and curating educational frameworks, and writing and editing publications. Her artistic work focuses on the political and social power of movement to temporarily dismantle ideological separations between contemporary and traditional, human and animal, nature and culture. She works within performing and visual arts contexts.

Piña’s work with master’s students in the dance studies program at Freie Universität Berlin will delve into the reappearance of oceanic movements, probing the ocean as a repository of ancestral knowledge. First, she will examine Afro-diasporic expressions of embodied ancestral knowledge, encoded in dance and sound, which thrived in Abya Yala* (the Americas) and transcended ethnic boundaries to also be embraced by non-African descendants in regions like Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, and Brazil.

Second, she will explore oceanic movements on a broader scale, encompassing the motions of ancient animal species - such as sponges, cnidarians, mollusks, and echinoderms - as well as the historical and contemporary movements of ocean currents, diasporas, and migrations. Her work at Freie Universität Berlin this 2024 summer semester will address the ocean as a nexus of origins, transit, and demise, yet also as a vibrant ecosystem crucial for the sustenance of life on Earth.

Together with her students she will continue a multi-year project she calls "Endangered Human Movement," which embodies the political and social power of movement, grounded in indigenous forms of knowledge and world making/maintaining practices. The long-term project Endangered Human Movements, which Piña initiated in 2014, focuses on human (and non-human), movement practices that have been cultivated for centuries all’over the world. It incorporates critical perspectives from the fields of anthropology, decolonial theory, and contemporary Amerindian and Afro-diasporic knowledge traditions. "The latter [encompasses] not only contemporary shamanic practices but also orally transmitted knowledge, social knowledge about the body, about dance, movement, and touch, about healing, about plants, about perception, about the interconnectedness of life forms, and about ritual diplomatic knowledge applied to the relationships with other beings," says Piña.

The Valeska Gert Visiting Professorship is hosted jointly by Freie Universität Berlin’s master’s degree program in dance studies, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and the Akademie der Künste (AdK).

The Latin words veritas, justitia, and libertas, which frame the seal of Freie Universität Berlin, stand for the values that have defined the academic ethos of Freie Universität since its founding in December 1948.