News and Opinions  –  2023

Dancing with bacteria: a theatrical performance about antibiotic resistance

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At the end of 2022, ReAct Latin America and partners produced a creative theatrical performance – Dancing with bacteria. The production used traditional music together with modern dance to raise awareness about antibiotic resistance.


Side profile of a man dancing. Emotional. Woman dancing behind him. Both dressed in white.
“Dancing with Bacteria” combines music, poetry, song, dance, theater and visual arts. Photo: Juan Manuel Freire, ReAct Latin America.

“Knocked out by bacteria or, perhaps more likely, by a virus, I was trying to rest and see if I could recover a little more…. and all of a sudden, I see a video from a friend – titled “Dancing with Bacteria”.

This is how Professor José Hernán Córdova began as he commented about the performance on Facebook.

He continued,

“the live video on Facebook manages to shake me out of my indolence and prompts me to watch this curiously titled video. I didn’t plan to dedicate more than a few minutes to it, but I ended up watching it in its entirety from beginning to end.”

Poetry, songs, dance and visual arts

Ana Camila Bedón, one of the three voices in the play. Photo: Juan Manuel Freire, ReAct Latin America.

“Dancing with bacteria – For our planet, for our health” is a work of music, poetry, dance and visual arts that premiered in Quito, Ecuador on October 27 last year. The production intends –  in a creative way – to tell a story of a harmonic relationship between human beings, bacteria and Mother Earth.

“Dancing with Bacteria” premiered at the Teatro Capitol in Quito, Ecuador, on October 27, 2022. Photo: Juan Manuel Freire, ReAct Latin America.

The live performance was stunning: 30 musicians filled the room with sound, accompanied by three singers with their choirs. Wrapped in the powerful melody, four performers danced vibrantly to the visuals of moving microorganisms, projected on the screen at the back of the stage. The performance engaged over 450 people who gathered at the Capitol Theater in Quito for the premiere of the play.

The Yachak character reflects on the relationship between human beings, bacteria and Mother Earth, and calls for harmony. Photo: Juan Manuel Freire, ReAct Latin America.

This story began several months earlier, when the indigenous dance and music group Ensamble del Viento met ReAct Latin America and the international group Reimagining Resistance. Over the coming year they kept in contact through virtual meetings where the mixed group of artists, scientists and communicators from Australia, Bolivia, India and Ecuador discussed art, microbes, the use of antibiotics, and antibiotic resistance. As their ideas matured, they decided they would develop an artistic work that navigates the complex relationship between human beings, bacteria and the planet.

“It was spectacular,”

says Arturo Quizhpe, Director, ReAct Latin America.

“Texts about One Health, antibiotic resistance, microbiome, functions and role of bacteria were transformed into poetry and dance…creating an unforgettable evening in one of the most important theaters in Ecuador.”

See Dancing with Bacteria on Youtube.

The Ensamble del Viento is an artistic collective of the School of Music of the University of the Americas that promotes the rhythms, wind instruments and dance of the indigenous peoples of the Andes of Ecuador.

The group Reimagining Resistance brings together scientists, artists and communicators who have been building an ecological metaphor about the bacterial world.

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