Departures and Arrivals

DETAIL

TEXTS AND REVIEWS

Continued project (2015)
Rita Natálio


Let’s imagine that the status of “Continued Project (2015)” on Facebook would be: “to thrust a practice of imitation that may distrust static ideas of invention”. “Continued Project (2015)”, a work by João dos Santos Martins with 6 collaborators (performers Ana Rita Teodoro, Clarissa Sacchelli, Daniel Pizamiglio, Filipe Pereira and Sabine Macher and the pianist Simão Costa) has a keen eye for historical dances from the 20th century, where a certain paradigm of modernity is installed, dance is built as an autonomous discipline and the status of the choreographer as an author is established.

In the working process, João Martins was willing to create a practice of imitation instead of presenting a history of dance in fragments. During rehearsals, the group dealt with discussions about the relationship between choreography and power, political technology of individuals and social choreography. Having these discussions in mind, they analysed a collection of videos and scores from different dance periods. Gradually, the proposal became an attempt to embody these dance fragments (by appropriation and imitation) and to put them together in a dramaturgy that allows choreographic labour to be perceived as an artistic product in itself and as an aesthetic experience to the audience. Invention goes beyond the authorial gesture; it is generated by differentiation (between the original and the copies), confronting perspectives of the past and a willed perspectivism (Eduardo Viveiros de Castro) of the present.

Among the fragments, Isadora Duncan, Laban, Dalcroze, Busby Berkeley, Lisa Nelson are all taken hostage, not to forget less known artists like Lola Bach. A portrait of Western Dance is presented, even if the work goes beyond a mere portrait. As a final result, “Continued Project (2015)” suggests that dance may be experienced and exhausted in its repetitive function (the rehearsal), while attempting to show the process of appropriating open scores (Lisa Nelson), choreographies and exercises that are vulnerably fixed in video (Simone Forti’s “Crawling”, a Dalcroze’s “Eurhythmics” class in the University of Wisconsin), communal experiences of trance workshops, warm ups, etc. The decision to perform the “process of learning” instead of presenting a “museum of dance” is stressed by the choice to intertwine these dance fragments with historical textual sources where meaningful gaps are revealed between the motives that led a certain choreographer to develop a certain practice and the foundations of a certain conception of the body and human ecology.

 

After a Skype conversation with João, he tells us “Continued Project(2015)” creates a relationship between dance and text divided in three categories:

1. a space/time where a document is presented (the archive section).

2. a space/time where an enactment of a dance fragment is proposed, not necessarily referring to the document of the archive section (dance practice).

3. A space/time for commentaries where connections can be built between the document and the dance practice.

The tripartition of this structure, applied to every “chapter” of the piece, creates dance-text figures where a certain idea-logy (a certain fixation of ideas) is translated in movement (between each category).

 

 

DANCE TEXT- FIGURES

 

             * document

 

 

* practice                       * commentary

 

 

 Joseph Kossuth

 

Actually, “Ideology” (or maybe we should say “choreo-ideo-logy”) becomes a decisive point to understand the transformation of dance patterns. Despite the encyclopaedic pursuit, the conceptual result of Martins’ work is less a collection of forms than an experiment to present differently the thoughts in choreography that unveil an ideological posture towards the body, society and human relations. That is why in the beginning of the piece, a text excerpt of “The Dance of the Future” (1902) by Isadora Duncan is recited in parallel to a group rehearsal of a choreography that is associated to Duncan’s work (actually, we cannot really tell if the choreography is made by Duncan, as her works were not written and interpretations are done by approximation). We hear from one of the dancers that “...dance should simply be, then, the natural gravitation of this will of the individual, which in the end is no more nor less than a human translation of the gravitation of the universe” while we see performers enjoying their rehearsal and partaking an experience where “collective social gravitation” is roughly choreographed, never really fixed. “The Dance of the Future” reveals an ideology that needs to be embodied in order to produce a difference, in this case a flexibility.

Furthermore, one of the questions repeated along the process was: “if you are what you do, “what” are you doing?” In other words, if one tries to imitate a certain dance of the past, what is this dance proposing in the present, if you consider dance and choreography a production of “forms-of-life” that are inhabited by practices and gestures of everyday life?

One may say that in “Continued Project (2015)” the “what” (the models perpetuated by each choreo-ideo-logy of the 20th century) is put against the “how” (the process of imitation/appropriation, display, combination of elements in dance-text figures). In this perspective, appropriation is a way to disappropriate Modernity from its universal laws of authorship and radical oppositions (between form and content, between dance and theory, between original and copies). Corroborating one of Doris Humphrey’s texts quoted in the piece, the proposal is maybe a strategy to turn its idealism upside down: “So long as the dance moves, it lives as dance but the moment static ideas are introduced either in the form or the conception, it becomes something other than itself – drama, painting, literature – or it collapses of inanition. For this reason, static ideas are dangerous”

To conclude, instead of presenting theory around historical choreographies, “Continued Project(2015)” produces a viral practice of imitation that can generate a certain knowledge afterwards. This is extremely valuable if with think that today, contemporary individuals quickly mobilise their imitations and inventions, their opinions replicate on a large scale and they are driven by the belief in the possibility of interfering, diverting, sculpting, modelling and even reversing the direction of their own lives. Imitation and invention can be seen as tools of social construction. Furthermore, in the case of virality and contagion of ideas through social networking on the Internet or analogous networks of consumption and influence, a bestial force of imitation is set up that seeks a global spread, a force whose power is extra-individual and allows us to consider subjects beyond self-contained units.

In the case of dance, this is particularly important to the “process of learning and transmission” through web videos and other web contents. These new individual technologies offered to artists can certainly overcame the historical divisions between dance periods and authorial territories and, furthermore, propose des-subjective perspectives towards the history of choreography. This is the case of “Continued Project (2015)” where choreography is at the same time the model and the destruction of the model. Whereas history of dance is presented through this plasticity of construction and destruction of models, past individual ideals of movement are posted and forgotten as any Facebook status.

 

Rita Natálio

 Ole Ukena

 

 

João dos Santos Martins is a Portuguese dancer and choreographer. He has studied dance and choreography in various institutions across Europe (PARTS, CCN Montpellier) Presently he is preparing a new piece along with Cyriaque Villemaux, Self-titled, which will premiere in Portugal in October 2015 and was in residence in Alkantara in June.

 

CREDITS
by João dos Santos Martins in collaboration with Ana Rita Teodoro, Clarissa Sacchelli, Daniel Pizamiglio, Filipe Pereira, Sabine Macher  piano Simão Costa light Ricardo Campos  production Associação Parasita  production support and diffusion Circular Associação Cultural  coproduction Caixa Geral de Depósitos Foundation – Culturgest, Centro Cultural Vila Flor, CCN de Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon in the frame of Life Long Burning funded by the European Union Culture Program artistic residences CCN de Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon, Centro de Criação de Candoso, EIRA, Musibéria, O Espaço do Tempo institutional support Câmara Municipal de Santarém/Teatro Sá da Bandeira – Santarém