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PHOTOS: How this Bolivian all-female skate crew is celebrating their Indigenous roots


No matter the place skaters are on the planet, you may seemingly discover them sporting dishevelled denims and pale T-shirts.

Not so for this all-female skate crew in Cochabamba, Bolivia. They pair their Vans sneakers with their mother’s and grandma’s polleras — colourful, layered skirts worn by the nation’s Indigenous Aymara and Quechua inhabitants.

And they don’t seem to be simply doing it for the style. The crew — referred to as ImillaSkate (imilla means “young girl” within the Aymara and Quechua languages) — wish to pay homage to their heritage and name out the persecution that the Aymara and Quechua individuals, majority ethnic teams in Bolivia, have lengthy confronted. During Spanish colonial rule, land in Bolivia was taken from Indigenous individuals, leaving them impoverished and marginalized. Over the years, many ladies in these teams deserted their cultural costumes to keep away from discrimination.

“By skating in polleras, we want to show that girls and women can do anything, no matter how you look or how people see you,” says Daniela Santiváñez, who based ImillaSkate with two mates in 2019. “The message is to be yourself and be proud of who you are.”

Skateboarding is a giant a part of that. “It teaches you confidence, self-love, to get up from falls — and to be authentic, too,” she provides.

Award-winning Brazilian photographer Luisa Dörr, who found the younger girls on Instagram, captured their vibe in a sequence of intimate portraits taken over two weeks in September and October 2021.

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“I was fascinated by their passion for their culture and the need to preserve it,” says Dörr. “Skating was just the excuse to bring up other issues.”

The 9 crew members, most of their 20s, meet usually to follow. It’s particularly necessary to them to put on conventional gown at public occasions.

“At first, I used to feel a little awkward” about sporting the pollera whereas skating, says ImillaSkate member Susan Meza. But now, she provides, she understands “the object of doing it and I feel more comfortable and free.”

Here’s a variety from Dörr’s photograph sequence.

Grace Widyatmadja and Ben de la Cruz photograph edited this piece.




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