Independent dance is gaining ground in Ecuador

September 2007 -

Wilson Pico (Ecuador, 1949) is considered one of the most important pioneers of contemporary dance in Ecuador. The year 2007 marks the fortieth of his career. A discussion on experimental dance and Ecuador's national cultural policy.


Wilson Pico: 'Contemporary dance gets a chance with the audience'

Wilson Pico: "Independent modern dance started in Ecuador in 1972, with the Ballet Experimental Moderno in Quito. I was one of their choreographers, but sadly this collective was disbanded again only two years later. After that, it was not until 1984, when the Frente de Danza Independiente – Movement for Independent Dance – was established that modern dance could develop uninterrupted, and I was their artistic director from 1985 until 1992.

Sadly, in all those years the government of Ecuador never formulated a sharp cultural vision or a clear policy for dance and the theatre arts. Moreover, in the past forty years I have seen almost no government support for independent artistic initiatives or experimental choreographers. It seems that they simply do not exist to the government. Apparently the government is not interested in their artistic and cultural contribution to Ecuadorian society.

The government’s 'cultural policy' is therefore highly imbalanced. This results, for example, in the situation that the official dance school Metrodanza is housed in the same building as the Frente de Danza Independiente. Metrodanza receives government subsidies, enabling it to offer free courses for ballet and contemporary dance. This frustrates the independent and successful Frente de Danza Independiente. Furthermore, official groups are given a wide variety of ways to promote their productions and put on their performances for free. The independent institutions rely on their ticket box revenues to survive, and must find their own ways to balance the budget.

And yet I believe success has been booked in the fact that a number of independent dance and theatre groups are now operating in Ecuador. In general, they manage their own locations and institutions. This gives contemporary dance a chance to reach the public. I have also noticed that the official dance institutions are slowly but surely being influenced by the experimental groups that they criticised so severely in the past."

The Frente de Danza Independiente is a partner of Hivos.