Elegía interrumpida


In the fall of 2010, SMU students of Dance and Latin American Poetry performed a joint collaboration of dance, poetry and music. Professors Patty Harrington Delaney (Dance) and Francisco Moran (Foreign Languages and Literatures) sponsored the event. The program featured works by Latin American poets Octavio Paz, Cesar Vallejo, Oliverio Girondo, and Delmira Agustini.

Particularly, Russel Braga accompanied Elegía interrumpida, a poem dealing with death, by the winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize for Literature, Octavio Paz. In his poem, Paz suggests the theme of death from a perspective found in Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday that focuses on remembering family members who have died. People in Mexico believe that the living and dead coexist during that particular day. Paz begins his poem with a setting similar to the Mexican holiday, “Hoy recuerdo a los muertos de mi casa” (Today I remember the dead of my house). In fact, Paz constantly repeats the beginning of his poem. He begins four other stanzas with the same verse. The poet emphasizes the setting with the use of anaphora, a rhetorical device that consists of the repeated use of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive sentences.

Similarly, Russel Braga attempts to musically reproduce the text. He repeatedly plays a nostalgic–like melody, the opening phrase of his Balada, in an attempt to suggest the emotions in Elegía interrumpida. Braga eventually makes use of free improvisation; rather than focusing on playing the “right” or “wrong” notes, the composer freely makes musical gestures that suggest images in the text. In essence, he tries to musically convey the poem by means of text depiction and text expression.

After the event, Braga commented: “I was initially reluctant to perform my own music, simply because Girondo’s poem featured music by Piazzola. Quite frankly, I felt that my music did not meet that kind of standard. Nevertheless, I quickly realized that collaborating is more satisfying than competing. I am actually very pleased with the outcome. Now I look forward to working with artist from other art disciplines.”


Interrupted Elegy from Russel Braga on Vimeo.