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Empowerment of the Indigenous Woman: Performance Practice—Jesusa Rodríguez & Liliana Felipe

Biographies

Jesusa Rodríguez is a Mexican director, actress, playwright, performance artist, scenographer, entrepreneur and social activist, Jesusa Rodriguez has been called the most important woman of Mexico. Her "espectáculos" (as both spectacles and shows) challenge traditional classification, crossing with ease generic boundaries: from elite to popular to mass, from Greek tragedy to cabaret, from pre-Columbian indigenous to opera, from revue, sketch and "carpa," to performative acts within political projects. She and her partner, Argentine singer/actor Liliana Felipe, own and operate El Habito and Teatro de la Capilla, alternative performances spaces in Mexico City. They have won an Obie for Best Actor in Las Horas de Belén, A Book of Hours (1999) with Ruth Maleczech and New York-based Mabou Mines. Rodríguez contributes regularly to Mexico's most important feminist journal, Debate Feminista.

Liliana Felipe is one of Latin America's foremost singers and composers, born in Argentina in the 1950s. She left for Mexico just before the outbreak of the 'Dirty War' (1976), but her sister and brother-in-law were both 'disappeared' victims of the military dictatorship's criminal politics. In Mexico, Liliana went to one of Jesusa Rodriguez's performances. Jesusa, catching a glimpse of Felipe in the audience, remembers saying to herself: "I am going to die with that woman." Since then, Liliana and Jesusa have created two performance spaces, El Cuervo and later El Habito, which they still run. They 'married' in February, 2000. Liliana's music has a wide range of followers in Latin America. She continues to be a powerful presence in Argentina, working with human rights organizations especially H.I.J.O.S. (the organization of the children of the disappeared).