Protected: TravaLíngua

December 23, 2018

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Mavi Veloso

Born in 1985 in Pacaembu in State of São Paulo, Brazil, currently lives in Amsterdam. Works transdisciplinary in different practices such as performance, dance, theatre, film, music, visual arts, trans, drag, queer, fashion and graphic design. Studied dance, theatre, music and circus through varied formal and informal training processes. Graduated in arts at State University of Londrina, Paraná, Brazil (2006-2009). Continued studies in performativity with COMO clube artist platform, São Paulo (2011-2014). Post-master in performance at A.PASS (Advanced Performance And Scenography Studies)(2014-2016), Brussels/Belgium. Participated/participates in Free Home University radical and artistic pedagogy experiment, Lecce/Italy. Currently doing Master of Voice at Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam. Among some recent works are: the films The Get Up, directed by Daniel Favaretto and Dudu Quintanilha and the Pink Color: Los Estados Unidos del Fuego, directed by Octavio Tavares and Francisca Oyaneder. The performance projects PRIVATE ROOM, PRETA and INDUMENTARIA POPULAR. Currently developing transdisciplinary project #iwannamakerevolution, about placement and displacement, mutant and in transit bodies. Started in post-master at A.PASS and currently completing Master of Voice at Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam with collaboration and support by ArtsEverywhere/Musagetes, a Canadian philanthropic arts organisation.

TravaLíngua is a project that researches vocal and performative practices, especially related to the femininization or masculinization of vocal change in people transitioning between genders or sexual identities. In Portuguese, trava-língua is the word used for tongue twister. But, trava is also the colloquial way to define travesti – transvestite, trans woman, and língua means language or tongue. Playing with these words, bringing together both notions of twisting your tongue and articulating a “trans language” (in a figurative and practical way) is how the project was born.

The project was part of the research conducted for my Master of Voice at the Sandberg Insitituut in Amsterdam, and initially presented during my online residency on ArtsEverywhere as #iwannamakerevolution. Beyond my own male to female transition, I wanted to explore new, different ways of articulation, projection, tones, and textures to perform voice.

I noticed that most voice transitioning exercises online are in English, and therapists that deal with this question are not found everywhere. Little by little, the dissemination of this knowledge is happening by the trans community to trans people via the internet. This inspired me to work with Cursinho Popular Transformação to bring TravaLíngua to São Paulo as an experimental workshop. Cursinho Popular Transformação is a collective and prep course devoted to young trans and non-binary students to prepare them for the Brazilian national university exam. Since I am based in Amsterdam, the only way to do this was to organize a four-part online session about experimenting with voice. The participants were together in a room with internet, led by performer and actress Lua Lucas as a local mediator while I conducted the sessions remotely. The videos presented here are my creative documentation of the sessions.

The accompanying series of interviews were made with various people who question gender, sexuality and identity: Sanni Est, Pollux Frei, Aerea Negrot, Geo Wyeth, Sladka Jerônimo, Íka Eloah, and Lucy Lazuli. My main questions focused on the particularities of changes in the voice within their transition, but we also touched on other aspects of changes in the body, social adaptations, how transgender issues are treated in diverse cities throughout the world, political implications, and especially performative practices of the voice.

For many of us trans fellows it is important to develop a voice that matches our appearance. Within hormone therapy for trans men the use of testosterone may directly affect the voice. For trans women it’s said that the use of oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone blockers do not change the voice. Changes can be reached through vocal chord surgery or by training. In the interviews we talk about both but mainly about practices for feminization or masculinization of the voice, vocal therapy, and artistic practices that appropriate the transformation, as all the interviewed people are artists.

I started to transition between Brazil and Brussels about three years ago. I didn’t search for a doctor or vocal therapist to transition my voice. Instead, in the past few years I have been researching gender and voice, so I reach out to each of the interviewees for some common connections but especially the differences in experience that each one has. I wanted to know what it is like to go through voice therapy. Sanni started her transition about ten years ago in Berlin, and was always followed by her doctor—notably she had the coaching of a vocal therapist. Pollux is just starting her transition also in Berlin, making everything under the guidance of doctors. With Aerea I was very interested in how she related her transition to her creative process. Knowing her work I always found her voice very experimental, having an interesting range from low to high pitch. As a trans man, Geo Wyeth, also through very powerful work with his voice, experiences hormone therapy in a very different way compared to the other interviewed girls. I was interested in understanding the impact of testosterone on the voice. Sladka, Íka, and Lucy live in São Paulo. I’d say it is easier to access female hormones in pharmacies in Brazil without the need for medical prescriptions. They started their process very young, and some conditions unfortunately were not ideal, like not having much support from family. Many political and social conflicts of what they experience in a “wild” way makes it important to have their voices included here.


Interview with Sanni Est & Pollux Frei

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Interview with Aerea Negrot

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Interview with Geo Wyeth

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Interview with TravaLíngua

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