Let’s face the music and Dance with Ned Kelly and Maria Bonita

“Ned Kelly & Maria Bonita” dancing together in our tableau vivant*… symbolising Australian and Brazilian cultures connecting and our statement of art rather than violence.

Maria Bonita has multiple and complex meanings to me. She embodies the paradigm of what it is to be a woman and the challenges faced only by women.

Like Ned, Maria Bonita was a bushranger captured and killed by the police. Her head was cut off and exhibited as trophy, along with the heads of her whole band, lead by her partner Virgulino Lampiao. But Maria Bonita’s body was the only one violated with a stick into her vagina. Why? Because she was a daring and powerful woman. Therefore, her dead body “deserved” extra humiliation and punishment.

I particularly thought about Maria Bonita this week for two very different reasons:

1. A male anaesthetist in Brazil was recently caught in the act of raping his patient, who was there to give birth to her baby by Caesarian. It shows that the potential for violence against women has no limit and that not much has changed since Maria Bonita’s time. A shocking reality all too close to Almodovar’s surreal film “Talk to her” – one that keeps happening every day.

2. This week is my mother’s birthday. She was initially cast to play the role of Maria Bonita in Globo TV’s first mini series in 1982, but ended up losing the role to Tania Alves – an already well known theatre actor-singer. Despite all the challenges and prejudices she faced, my mother – who has schizophrenia – has raised three kids with very little help. Thank you Mamae, happy birthday to you! Thanks to you here we are!

Every year during winter in Brazil we have our Folk Festival where we celebrate the culture, music and food of Brazil’s northeastern outback, where Maria Bonita came from. A version of this special Folk Festival will be happening in Perth this Sat 16 July at the Mess Hall – The BrazilWA July Fest. I will be there singing as a special guest and paying my respect as a woman and artist to Maria Bonita, my mother and to all women facing unique challenges every day.

Brazil WA – The Brazilian Association of Western Australia Inc, was founded on International Women’s day over 10 years ago, by four daring women: Eliane, Cema, Ester and myself. Thank you to all presidents and members for keeping it alive- Eliane, Wilson, Carlos, Cema and Raquel. Thank you also to Carina, Giba, Roberta, Patricia, Fred, Pinguim for being part of it since the very beginning and the Bamboo Production team for helping BrazilWA to keep producing the Brazilian Winter Festival every year – the main event of the association calendar since its foundation.

Thank you Brazil WA, Bamboo Productions and WTD band for making this event happen and for the invitation. More info at www.julianaareias.com and at the link below.

May we all keep learning how to dance together… More culture and art instead of violence always.

*”Ned Kelly and Maria Bonita” – Tableau Vivant by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman and Juliana Areias