P de dança

The Gulbenkian and dance in Portugal

24 Jun – 04 Jul 2021

Throughout two long weekends, dance returns to the auditoriums of the Foundation with the performance of two dozen works created over recent years with support from the Gulbenkian and with some making their very first appearance in Portugal.

Programme selection under the curatorship of João dos Santos Martins and executive production of Xica Aires.

Since the disbanding of the Gulbenkian Ballet in 2005, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation has focused its involvement in dance on awarding grants — for study, creation and internationalization — that fund independent contemporary dance projects from artists mainly at the start of their careers. In response to the invitation to create a programme that brings together a series of works funded by the Foundation, this show presents two dozen performances selected from more than a hundred which were awarded grants under the Gulbenkian Culture Programme between 2011 and 2017. The intensity of each of these shows and the ephemeral nature of dance itself explains why most have not been staged in several years. Some have never been performed in Lisbon or even in Portugal. As such, their re-performance contributes not only to a rethinking of the idea of the repertoire, but also to a renewed look at the shows from the perspective of the present.

At stake in these works is a multiplicity of inquiries into the questioning of the kinetic state of the body, the theatricality of inanimate and inorganic beings, the use of words as a choreography of meaning and sensation, or the performativity of gender as something complex and non-linear. These concerns attest to the versatile character of dance today in terms of an expanded practice, often detached from the body. Dance is in itself a mode of action that has no category, in which all disciplines intersect and all formats coexist, calling the systems of presentation and representation into question: whether a performance, an exhibition, a guided tour, a conference, an interview, a concert, or a recital. Creating dance nowadays does not simply mean moving through space and time, but composing situations, taking on visions and perspectives from the possibilities of each world. Together, the artists that form this show construct a partial portrait of a generation marked by a context of production dominated by small-scale projects, with small crews comprising temporary workers, a result of an increasingly liberal labour market. These artists reflect the diversity of Portugal’s emerging dance scene over this past decade.

The show was initially planned for 2018 and was designed to occupy most of the Foundation’s spaces, but it is now confined to more formal presentation spaces as a result of the pandemic. Its two main purposes, however, remain the same. These are, on the one hand, revitalising the contemporary dance circuit during the current pandemic by revisiting the questioning of the body and its forms of visibility in the public space as fundamental elements in a society that is deprived of a social body; on the other hand, reinforcing the Foundation’s relationship with contemporary dance in the future. 


João dos Santos Martins

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