Some Notes on COVID-19 Times, in São Paulo, Brazil

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Moraes, Juliana. “Some Notes on COVID-19 Times, in São Paulo, Brazil.” Global Performance Studies, vol. 3, no. 2, 2020,

Juliana Moraes

State University of Campinas (UNICAMP)

I am a professor in the Dance Department at the State University of Campinas, UNICAMP, and have a research project funded by the São Paulo State Research Support Foundation (FAPESP). With the money received, I am purchasing equipment for the creation, registration, and dissemination of choreographic works.

With the pandemic, UNICAMP was the first university in São Paulo State to implement quarantine and close everything not directly linked to researches on coronavirus. A field hospital was created in the university gymnasium, next to the Arts Institute, and the access route to our building has become exclusive for ambulances.

I have been working at home since March 23rd. Equipment purchased with FAPESP funds, including a projector and a camcorder, had to be delivered to my residence. With them, I have begun filming and editing small dance videos and project them on the walls of the neighbouring building. I publish them on the Instagram account @danca.para.afastar.a.peste. I hope the images can be small slits of freedom that people receive on their mobile devices while in confinement. I named the series “Dance to ward off the plague,” in reference to the dancing mania of the middle ages against the black death.

The title also references simultaneous plagues, some of them as old as our country, whose wounds are now exploding with pus because of the social injustices and economic inequities exposed and increased by the virus. Those are structural racism, sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance, attacks on our new democracy and the outbreak of openly fascist movements, which have stolen our country’s flag and made it a symbol of terrifying ideas. Our federal government attacks science, human rights, as well as encourages the destruction of the environment and indigenous cultures. During the world’s worst epidemic since 1918, our health ministry has been without a minister for weeks. With each passing day, it becomes more evident that this is a government that tests constitutional limits daily.

We must mobilize not to allow authoritarianism to return and lose the democratic conquests that came at much cost. I grew up with friends who were born in exile because their parents had to flee. My mother, trained in geography, for many years was unable to work as a teacher because the military dictatorship removed history and geography from school curricula. As children, my sisters, friends, and I saw our parents go from the countryside to the capital to participate in rallies for democracy, which we watched on television with a mixture of happiness, pride, and apprehension. They fought for us to live in a democratic regime; many people of their generation gave their lives for it; others were tortured and live with the trauma until today.

We cannot allow an intolerant, violent, and authoritarian group to take away our freedom and force us to live in fear. It is our obligation, at this historical moment, to fight against all these plagues besides the virus. We must mobilize collectively, organizing ourselves peacefully, within the democratic rules for which our parents fought. But we must do this before it is too late, for when too much virus infects a body, it is much harder to recover.