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In a lecture-performance entitled Salário Máximo, presented at the Portuguese Parliament in Lisbon in 2014, Vera Mantero maintains that dance seems to her to be the least appropriate art form to discuss things. According to her, it’s easier to communicate a concrete idea through cinema or literature. This statement supports the commonly-held belief that dance, while it is a metaphor for thought, cannot speak. The apparent conflict here points to the relationship between politics and poetics, that can also be expressed as the dichotomy between written text — which can be translated — and the composition of gestures, action, and movements.
In his 18th century treatise, Raoul Fueillet proposes that dance be first written down on paper using a notation system he has devised, before being performed and transposed to the body. The idealization, written like a law, would be separate from the danced reality, resulting from a practice, in space. The process of transmission would be like dancing a language or speaking a dance, a process in which text and body interact in a negotiation between expression and communication.
João dos Santos Martins is an artist whose work encompasses different forms, including choreography, exhibition-making, and publishing. He studied at the Lisbon School of Dance and P.A.R.T.S. (Brussels), exerce (Montpellier) and the Institute for Applied Theatre Studies (Giessen). His practice articulates producing his own work and collaborating, as a dancer, with other choreographers such as Ana Rita Teodoro, Eszter Salamon, Moriah Evans, and Xavier Le Roy. He generally collaborates with other artists, such as Anthropocenas (2017) with Rita Natálio and Onde Está o Casaco? (2018) with Cyriaque Villemaux and Ana Jotta. He organised the cycle Nova — Velha Dança in Santarém in 2017, with performances, workshops, talks and exhibitions.
He created a format for the collective historicisation of dance in Portugal — Para Uma Timeline a Haver — with Ana Bigotte Vieira and founded a newspaper — Coreia — dedicated to producing discourse about art and artists, particularly in relation to dance. In 2020 he organized the PACAP 4 programme with Forum Dança.
Adriano Vicente is a dancer and performer. He studied dance at the Quorum Academy and P.A.R.T.S. in Brussels. He has performed in Dawn (2016) by Marten Spanberg, Louisianna 2017 and The Olympics by Nikima Jagudajev, 2018 by André e. Teodósio, and Xtraordinário by Teatro Praga. He also collaborates with DJ Audiopath on a project that combines electronic music, dance, and the body.
João Barradas is an accordionist, who moves between classical music, jazz, and improvised music. Composers such as Luís Tinoco, Fabrizio Cassol, and Dimitris Andrikopoulos have regularly composed new work for him over the years. He also researches, transcribes, and composes original music for the accordion. He is a winner of the World Accordion Trophy and the international competition at Castelfidardo and Okud Istra (Croatia). As a jazz accordionist, he has collaborated with artists like Greg Osby, Mark Turner, Aka Moon, Mike Stern, Gil Goldstein, Fabrizio Cassol, Mark Colenburg, Jacob Sacks, Miles Okasaki, Rufus Reid and Jerome Jennings, among others. Directions, his first album for the New York record label Inner Circle, was nominated for best album of the year by Downbeat magazine.
Choreography João dos Santos Martins
Performer Adriano Vicente
Music and live performance João Barradas
Text José Maria Vieira Mendes
Text in Portuguese Sign Language Sofia Fernandes
Light Filipe Pereira
Costumes Constança Entrudo
Produced by Sofia Matos/Materiais Diversos
Executive producer Claraluz Keiser/Associação Parasita e Association Mi-mai
Coproduced by Alkantara, Associação Parasita, Centro Cultural Vila Flor, Materiais Diversos Arts Residencies Alkantara, Centro Cultural Malaposta, Studios Victor Córdon, 23 Milhas – Ílhavo
Special thanks Sandra Gorete Coelho
Materiais Diversos, Associação Parasita and Alkantara are funded by República Portuguesa | Cultura-Direção Geral das Artes.
João dos Santos Martins (1989) is one of the most unique choreographers of his generation, as his artistic work reflects – in an almost literal way – the research he has developed over the last few years on what it is and what can be dance as a discipline. Having developed an artistic work that has marked his presence in several Portuguese and international cultural institutions, dos Santos Martins created, in addition to his collaborative works, Projecto Continuado, in 2015, with which he won the prize of the Portuguese Society of Authors for Choreography in 2016 (SPA).
In my view, Choreography is presented as a game that exposes the relationship between signs and their materialities, between the degrees of kinship in the sphere of the symbolic, listening to languages of various origins on stage (gesture, voice , text). Almost anthropologically and covering choreography with an ironic academic didacticism, dos Santos Martins proposes a performance study on the bases of communication and on what understanding is in its power. Choreography gathers and crosses, in a relationship of overlap and equivalence, a set of gestures, words (in their various dimensions), musical, choreographic phrases, sounds, purified in their composition. In a show that can resemble a performed conference, with choreographic and musical resources, we see our attention concentrated on the performer Adriano Vicente, who, accompanied by the musician João Barradas, presents the show and its parts, interpreting them then, through several games of translation, transposition, transformation, to ascertain and test the sign’s intelligibility. Vicente carries with him a text by the Portuguese playwright José Maria Vieira Mendes that also participates in the demonstration of the difficulties, weaknesses and possibilities that the very idea of interpreting involves.
Mickael de Oliveira