Barbara Peyreyra moved to Europe in 2001, when her native country
Argentina to an economic and political crisis was subject. She made a
detour via Amsterdam and Berlin before she settled in Brussels. She planned
on staying only one month in Europe because of financial reasons, but after
five years she is still there. Brussels turned out to be a better place for
starting dancers than Amsterdam, where it was not easy to find a place to
live. Life was also more expensive there and everybody seemed to be more on
his own. In Brussels, it was much easier to get in contact with people or
to share a house. She met a lot of foreign dancers there who were all just
starting their career.
Peyreyra prefers “to make her own school”, as she calls it, choosing
the classes and teachers she likes rather than doing a whole program in a
school. She came to Europe because she wanted to move, study, meet people
and explore the connections between dance and other art forms. She thinks
it is important to accept that finding a job takes time. She sees how some
arriving dancers are disappointed because they expect to find a job right
away or cannot get a job in a big company. She knows many dancers who were
very enthusiastic at the beginning but have given up their dream to become
a dancer. Many people do not understand the life of a dancer, in which
moving and traveling are inherent. A dancer has to go where there is work,
which means changing places and friends all the time. That way of living is
especially difficult, if not impossible, when there are kids involved.
Peyreyra feels part of a Brussels community because she knows a lot of
people there: dancers, theater and circus people as well as Belgians who do
not have any connection with the performance field. She is happy to be in
Brussels and feels completely integrated and part of the culture. For one
year and a half she was illegal in Belgium. Some companies did not want to
engage her for a project because it was too much hassle to arrange the
paper work. As a foreigner, she had to get a work permit for every single
project she did, which was exhausting, given the short employment periods.
Since her regularization, she has a work permit that she only needs to
renew once a year. She feels that since she has her papers, she is being
treated differently (for example in government institutions). She is also
more at peace because she can concentrate on her own projects and has more
possibilities to work.
She wished there would be more of an underground scene in Brussels: small
places where (beginning) dancers can develop work. It is difficult to get a
residency in Brussels, maybe because too much work is being created. She
notices how it is sometimes easier to get residencies for people who have
worked with “big names” than for people who are following an
independent career like herself.