A Look at the Portuguese World


h facebook h twitter h pinterest

The choreographer of the subtil

Written by 

Rui Lopes Graça was a dancer and currently choreographer for the National Ballet Company (BNC), as coordinator of special projects and for the Ballet Gulbenkian, the Portuguese Contemporary Dance Company, Ballet du Rhin in France, the National Company Song and Dance of Mozambique, the Contemporary Dance Company of Angola and also the Company Rui Lopes Graça. In addition to its activity as a choreographer, is regularly invited to lecture at the Higher School of Dance and the University of Stavanger in Norway. More recently choreographed the show "Animal Farm" based on the novel by Miguel Torga, the group "Dancing with the difference."

As a choreographer note what has changed in these past 30 years in dance in Portugal? The Gulbenkian Ballet company was extinguished, the support for culture declined over the years and some even say that there is an audience for classic ballet.
Rui Lopes Graça: There was incredible changes in 30 years. Dance had not the projection that has nowadays in society. There was even a certain type of dance that was known at the time through the Gulbenkian Ballet company and that was just one facet of representing the movement of dance worldwide. With the Acarte events there was a whole generation that choreographers and dancers who began to emerge and to travel, to know other realities and transform the dance movement in our country. What happens today is that dancing is very well represented, both in terms of training, such as creation despite having very few dance structures, which are not in large numbers. The level of training at the National Conservatory has dancers who have a working market both in Portugal and abroad. The idea that there is not good interpreters in Portugal is a thing of the past, what happens now is that the amount of people coming out of schools formed, in national terms, are not absorb by the market because we have so many people. While in the dance proliferates other concepts and other aesthetic ...

Dou you speaks of contemporary dance?
RLG: I speak of contemporary dance in all its crosses and possible aspects, because the dance has changed very creatively today. This is reflected in Portugal, we are not a country as closed to the outside as it was twenty years, or even thirty years ago. The big problem we have, is not in terms of interpreters and creators, but the possibility of developing work. There are few structures, there is almost no companies other than the author, who is not the same thing as repertory companies, in which several choreographers can develop work with the dancers and that's our big dilemma. In relation to the public, I am of the opposite opinion, there is an audience for dance, if in a performance it does not exist, one should try to understand why people do not have a huge appetite for dance performances and in terms of classical ballet forget about it, just say "swan lake" and it is always a full house, at least in the CNB. It is more difficult for contemporary companies, because to see the classics there is a more rooted tradition than for more advanced choreography, then also it depends on the choreographers and companies.

You are speaking about an urban audience that this more sensitized than someone who live outside the centers of large cities.
RLG: But this is normal. If people are not sensitized to a particular type of events is necessary to do so. If I go to a place where there is a great appetite for dance shows, I have to create a different disclosure and incentive mechanism so that people go to the theater and maybe after seeing hardly they won't like, unless they are proposals so, so special, so closed in a certain kind of taste that can only be made in a particular circuit, but there is a mistake to take these proposals to such sites.

When approached missing structures in Portugal for dance you refer to the theaters?
RLG: No, I mean the companies, because we have many theaters. We is also have a shortage of programmers, though there are plenty in Portugal, I think many are very "followers”, there are few professionals who program in a certain way and the others follow the same line, as if to format a certain type of taste and have a lack of cultural agent who have their own taste, this is one aspect. The other is that there is a great lack of structures for the dance work, companies with choreographic centers where they can develop projects and financial support so that they can be developed, not just for some more familiar names and you can reach the largest number of people. Then we have the plight of interpreters in our country, namely the lack of the dancer's status in Portugal. The no recognition that it is a rapid wear profession, everyone agrees on that, but not on paper, is not recognized by law. All these count towards the recognition of the profession and its development.

In terms of the dancer's status what is necessary to recognize?
RLG: When a dancer finishes his career? How do they retired? And when do they finish their social contribution career? Notice, an air traffic controller does not retired at age 65 as well as the embroiderers in Madeira who is considered a wearing job, but not a dancer and he destroys his body. It is a high-risk profession, because they have to had operations, have pain in all muscles, bones often broken in bad stages and currently the retirement for a dancer is up to 55 years old, but is someone dancing until that age? No. People should have security, special insurance for this type of professions, the possibility of retiring at age 40, for example, and then have the opportunity to recycle their life. What we are doing is to retired the body. Society must recognition to these people, because thanks to them that these creative professions exist.

You mean legislatively?
RLG: There is a lot of work done, this is not established, I think it will be, but we are currently in a counter-cyclical because when we talk about retirement is intended that people do so later, not sooner.

When you said that we need to create center for choreographers, it is for this reason that the pros have to leave Portugal?
RLG: I'll work out when they invite me and this is the reality of a Creator in all areas. Even though there were many centers, or companies in Portugal invite me to choreograph, I would never stop accepting invitations from abroad, because it's important our work reach other sites and others. It is the idea of globalization of art, creativity is to get as far as possible. In fact in Portugal there are no companies to provide work and meet the public looking for dance performances, because there is much more than we can imagine, what is needed is to feed that, if we give little at a time and irregularly naturally people lose the habit of the consumption of this show.

So that the centers can happen in the future what is necessary to happen?
RLG: Someone needs to take the initiative. There are already sites which promote acceptance and development projects, but more is needed across the country, we need to support it. They are also necessary committees so that they can create shows and make them move around the country.

At a time when the state support are scarce do you think it still should be predominant even though is little or none? Many companies argue the state should not help the arts, moreover, that hurts it, because the supports when there are always for the same, though some argue otherwise and find that the arts always need public incentives.
RLG: The arts always need public support, because if it were not so would only performances by gain and some artistic proposals not always have public. The number of people does not attest to the validity of a project, it is not because you have a full house that the work is very good, so if is given money for research and development in other areas, such as science, where there is an investment to find something that will later be used by many in the arts is the same, there is an investment because it is the future, even if we do not know what will be the result. We have many creators whose work is exactly this, which is to open the way and when it does, does not fill theaters, because we are looking for something and people still do not recognize this route. Thus, these structures need support to develop their projects. A show is not valid just because it fills audiences, this is not true, what fills is the established and there is no need as much support as before. When the set is like this we need to change it, because if we don't we are stuck in time, there is no breakthrough. To say that the artistic creation does not need support is total ignorance, is not to think, is a prejudice, it is being manipulated by people who certainly are not having support, because they are the ones who say they always go to the same, if they have it will not complained. I'm not saying that the system of grant's is right, which may be wrong is the way it is distributed and that is debatable. It has to do with taste, because whoever chooses are people who like certain things and it is that, if they are the same or have influence over a long period of time end up always being the same, this has nothing to do with the supporting the arts, but rather with the criteria to support a company. In my opinion to avoid such situations it was necessary that these commissions were not always made by the same people, potential requires changing the decision-making bodies and this is a guarantee of a diverse support.

Let's address the draft dancing with the difference, what were the challenges you faced in this very particular company?
RLG: This is a very special company and it was my biggest challenge. This means that references to a choreographer has when it comes to work in this company, how they communicate with interpreters varies rather abruptly, in relation to working with dancers accustomed to a normal repertoire, ie where there are people which has dance training from an early age, because they have a totally different understanding of people with a difference, so to speak, ranging grasp. How do I get to my idea to these people and how it will be implemented? It is a very difficult job and requires a long period of learning. For me this was a beginning to address this kind of language, but I think that is something for life, it is something that takes a long time to develop a concept that allows creating shows with these people. It is extremely difficult due to a large difference in communication codes and this is a tremendous challenge.

The different codes of communication that you speaks off also may apply when going on a train in Nourega?
RLG: This has nothing to do with it, we are talking about people living with disabilities. It is different asking a person with trisomy 21 to make a waltz pass than the other that does not have it, the brain does not work the same way. Though, they has an annuity of life and its existence is like mine, only the apprehension of reality breaks this person. So that's within this feature how I can produce an artistic object? It is challenging.

What you took this experience as a choreographer for the future?
RLG: Is that things may reach the public in a totally opposite way of what I'm thinking off and I can do it anyway, that is, there are many channels and this kind of experience is very good for me because it makes me think how it comes to the audience and it's not through a single message, there are multiple forms and more simplified than those who I habitually use. In this show we came to the public in a much more distilled, less complicated way, has to be to the point, it cannot have many flourishes and at the bottom it creates a synthesis at the level of very great communication, using only the essentials. I as a person have a tendency to complicate, to add more, because there is concern that I'm not reaching enough and this is a mistake, through this experience that helps simplify increasingly put aside what is fitting and stick to the essentials.

It is difficult to translate a literary work for dance?
RLG: I never transport a literary work to the dance. I use a book to create another object. It has the same title, Bichos, but not the book, that already exists.

For those who read the book what they will see ?
RLG: Will recognize things are not even all the tales are just a few. A literary work is sufficient on its own, does not need anything else. I do not like the idea of doing the choreography at the expense of the literary work, this already exists, has no interest to play it. I from a book recreate something else reading, this work showed me and awaken in me a certain kind of realities that I will want to work through dance. My posture is always from an object to create another reality. I do not like figurative.

That's how you define as a choreographer?
RLG: I do not know how to define myself as a choreographer, I'm looking for years and when I know I cease to be. The process is a constant discovery. The concern is not knowing.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.

FaLang translation system by Faboba