FAETEC Dance Performance 2023

One highlight of the 12th International Uranium Film Festival at the Modern Art Museum of Rio de Janeiro, 18-28 May 2023, was the dance performance „The blue shine of death". A presentation by students of the Dance Course of the Adolpho Bloch FAETEC State Technical School, coordinated by Prof. Luciana Carnout, remembering the terrible accident with blue glowing highly radioactive Cesium 137, in Goiânia in September 1987.  (Video)

Libbe HaLevy, producer of the weekly radio show Nuclear Hotseat from Los Angeles was present. She said: „The FAETEC dancers came to the festival screening site, the Modern Art Museum (MAM Rio) Cinematheque, for a second performance, this one based on the  largest radiological accident in Brazil’s history, the Goiânia accident of September 13, 1987. The dance performance by Students of State School FAETEC Adolpho Bloch remembers the terrible accident with blue shining highly radioactive Cesium 137, which is often referred to as `The blue shine of death´. 

For the dance, about 30 students, dressed all in white, presented themselves miming normal actions - brushing hair, putting on make-up, talking, hugging in friendship.  Pots of blue powder paint were placed around the dance area - the blue powder not explained, but signifying Cesium 137.  First one dancer took blue powder and it sprinkled unconsciously on her white clothing.  She touched and hugged other dancers - and the blue transferred to them.  Then several took handfuls of the powder, and as the dance progressed, blue showed up on shirts, pants, skin, hair, faces, transferred unknowingly in the process of living their lives until everyone was “contaminated” with the bright blue powder.  Towards the end, the dancers began staggering, coughing and choking. Then as they collapsed and lay still, a figure wearing a respirator that covered her entire face rose above them all, in triumph.  

I have never thought of how dance might address nuclear issues, so to see this was both shocking and deeply moving.  It challenged me, and all the audience.  The cheers at the end went on for several minutes.  This is expression through the arts, using dance and music to tell the nuclear story in a way that left-brained intellects could not sidestep or argue away. To think that the dance, from concept to execution, was created by a group of teenagers, using their creativity in service to nuclear awareness, was beyond impressive. Kudos to the class and the teachers who supported them.“

About the accident

On September 13, 1987, two young men in search of junk entered the unsecured ruins of the Goiano Radiation Therapy Institute, a former cancer treatment clinic, in the city of Goiânia. They found an abandoned radiation therapy unit with a heavy lead capsule that contained 19 grams of cesium-137. Without knowing the risks of radioactivity or even the name "radioactive", they took the capsule, dragged it home in a wheelbarrow and sold it to a scrap dealer six days later. The curious scrap dealer breaks open the capsule and discovers the white crystal powder that glows bluish in the dark, cesium-137 chloride - the death glow! "The serial number of the sealed radioactive source is not known, but from other information the source is thought to have been produced at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) facility in the United States of America in about 1970.“ IAEA

More about the Goiânia accident



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