L'animal a l'esquena responds to the need of its founders: María Muñoz and Pep Ramis, the artistic directors of Mal Pelo, to open up their dance company structure to a network structure based on the interchange with other artists and creators.

In 1997 they began restoration and building work on the spaces at Mas Espolla, which would be the base for the project, and set out the guidelines for the centre for creation and research. From 2001 to 2010 they were co-artistic directors of the project, with Toni Cots. Since 2011 María Muñoz and Pep Ramis have directed L'animal a l'esquena with the help of a team of artistic advisers.

The name "L'animal a l'esquena" ("The animal on the back") alludes to the image of an animal carried on one's back, over a column which is the central axis of the body and the movement. It is as well an image that evokes a certain condition of fragility and questions the place and expression of the body.

The main aim of L'animal a l'esquena is to set up the links and connections between artists, scholars and the public, in such a way that the centre convert itself into a ‘shared place', into a framework to research body based artistic practice. A framework for research understood as an accumulative process, of contextualisation and reflection, of training and exchange.

L'animal a l'esquena attempts to reflect the actual need of contemporary arts practice to define a critical frame based on the presence of different voices and views, in order to look for a change in the values related to visuality, textuality, identity and corporality. L'animal a l'esquena proposes a temporary refuge in which the difference is recognized and accepted.