Bunster, Patricio (1924–2006) By Giersdorf, Jens Richard
Patricio Bunster’s career was emblematic of a Latin American engagement with European modernism and unique in its exchange with German modern dance (Ausdruckstanz). Trained in Chile by immigrant German members of Kurt Jooss’s company, Bunster merged a local vocabulary with globalized movements—such as modern dance vocabulary derived from Ausdruckstanz and ballet—with the goal of restructuring existing nationally defined movement. This merger was utopian in its rethinking of national culture toward a global artistic expression. Such a utopian understanding of the capacity of movement as a global unifier and transformer recalled early modern dance’s vision for a changed world through corporeal awareness and choreographed emancipation. Influenced by Laban as well as Jooss and Leeder, Bunster observed and deployed movement found in manual labor, leisure, daily rituals, nature, and the structure of architecture. In Bunster’s opinion, all of these sources carried traces of future choreographies that could express a new transnational, (Latin) American, and utopian society. Different utopian models, such as the radical rethinking of political structures through a breakdown of the barrier between art and life or the embracing of technology in relation to design for the bettering of society were at the core of modernist conviction that the world needed to be fundamentally changed.