Né Barros

Vooum is a beautiful series of explorations along the theme of geography: the geography of travel and the geography of the human heart. It utilizes one of the most thoroughly satisfying juxtapositions of film and live mouvement I’ve ever seen.
The film footage (images of maps, airplanes, a variety of locales - some exotic, some familiar) firmly establishes the theme of travel.
The movement poignantly embodies the impossibility of ever arriving at one’s final “destination”. The individual dancer’s movement vocabulary is lush and released, but is often contrasted with a cooler sense of geometric precision in the form of diagonal group formations. One of the most impressive aspets of this piece is that the projected images and the live images never seem to compete with one another. The peacefully co-habit the stage, resonating off each other in endlessly fascination ways.
(Roger Copeland)
“(...) focusing [Vooum] almost exclusively in a work around the expressive potencial, but not theatrical, of the body, the choreographer finds a different movement poetic, em que falls to the textures from the coreographic phrasinging to guide the dramaturgy of the piece, where the significations expands themeselfs creating new readings.”
Maria José Fazenda (dance critic)
Vaga, which gives continuity, as in a mental trip, to other two anterior productions, (...) complete a discourse that unfolders in various fronts, in her double nature of divided-united work in a first formal part, made of passages inside-outside of scene and of intense microdances that born of variations about “family of gestures”, according to a modality that the American post-modern offered to the old Europe, and in a second part “expressive-performative” with the dancers with their faces covered attentive to a collective oeuvre of improvisation by enigmas. Explains the choreographer: “The reading of the show, to me, must be understood in the sense of the lost, of the de-memorization, of the emptying, of the isolation, also as a metaphor of the psychological nudity and the identity in her impersonal condition”.

“(...)the absolute protagonist here is again and always the body, which decline, through variants, in souplesse and with exactness, the choosen codes by Né Barros and by her interpreters for this ‘abstract’ creation and however ‘narrative’. In which sens? The boby relate with the ‘corporeality’, inscribing himself in spaces and in sonorous and luminous ambients, that establish a dialogue with the gesture that is never descriptive but before enigmatical and stratified of signification in the unfolding of the show sequences. The bodys of Vaga,  between tact and dynamic groups contact, perform in an unknown location, without exact limits, where ‘reality’ steps in, by gestures and quotations, only through the video and the gestual manifestation of the dancers soul(...)”

“(...) Vaga develops, in opposition, in an a-historic and a-dimentional field, in a block or stadium equivalent to the stratified universe of video games, where bachelor machines or desejantes machines circule (if we adopt the duchampian and deleuzian terminologies), that points out to minimum sketchs of narratives (immediates and inconclusives) (...).”
Condemned to survive to constrains of the real ordination, the body duality producer/decoder of signs gains is significance in the confront with the Other. Starting on an experimental context of work, the choreographer Né Barros travels over the territory of communicational tensions and sentiments course to transcendence.
On DIA MAIOR, time demands the fragmented dimension of physical emotions. Is there a supreme sense which encounters on moving bodies, vehicles of symbolical thought, his primordial support?
DIA MAIOR reveals a challenging sobriety, free from prejudice and inspiring movements, opening new spaces, so creatives as generouses, of reception and search, of analysis and questioning, ready to be occupied by the Other’s epiphany, in the confrontation of the multiple relations and sentiments, in the primary proximity intrinsically violent of the passion and in the social isolation of crowds that annul the individual facing is frustrated desire, consequently, auto-anthropophagic and hallucinogenic.
Anastácio Neto

with many awakenings, many nights
Lucinda Canelas

Né Barros and Alexandre Soares have worked together for quite some time, but never as much as these days.

This time the musician was always in the studio with the choreographer and the seven dancers, participating in a process of “simultaneous composition” which would turn “Major Day”, the play that today and tomorrow will be presented in  Teatro Carlos Alberto in Porto, a shared experience which became possible thanks a to a mutual “contagion”

“It was very important to be able to have Alexandre in the studio since the first day of work”, says Né Barros. “This permanent closeness has allowed us to optimise composition strategies. As we have collaborated in four creations, it was easy to understand when the music should influence the movement and vice-versa. There was always a very stimulating tension.”

In “Major Day” – choreography for seven dancers plus one (the musician) – Barros explores a series of “micro narratives” which translate common situations. “They are not reproductions of the every day, but moments the audience can relate to”, explains, supporting the idea that her dance does not seek to come close to reality, but create spaces of narration.

“In my works, there is always an appeal to the narration. There needs only to be a body that moves, as abstract it may be, for it to have a story to tell, the reference to a past and to a present. ”

Similarly with what happened in previous works as "No Fly Zone" or "Vaga", Né Barros started by defining a work device, in which “Major Day” is about the creation of an atmosphere of installation in which the musician and dancers share the stage. It followed a period of experimentation in which sounds and choreographical sentences were explored until we arrived a theme and composition structure aided by the improvisation to achieve its final shape. “My plays always have a flexible structure – there is a formal choreographic writing which every time leaves spaces of variation or improvisation.”

The result is a work in which the performers, in a group moment or in the intimacy of a solo or duet, explore the potentialities of a sequence or the effects of a repetition of movements, highlighting the irregularity of time. “Time is a construction. In this ‘Major Day’ there are many awakenings, many nights, without conventions of schedules or light.”

Slowly, says Barros, she composed “an extreme and strange dance” in which the opposition between reality/fiction is questioned from a very personal point of view. Unlike previous creations – where the experience is mainly collective – “Major Day” privileges the intimacy, supporting in a theme that goes through all the fragmentary action – the affective relationships. “All the performers, always on stage, are bound by relations of proximity or exclusion. It is in the web where all happens.”

I want you to know how much I enjoyed watching the DVD of "Story Case." It's tremendously haunting, a very chilling study of the existential human condition---of individuals estranged from their environment, unable to ever feel completely "at home" regardless of whether they're in an urban (man-made) environment) or in the "natural" world. Especially for the female performer, the work generated a sense of perpetual "migration," of being stranded in a "desert", both spatial and temporal.  We often feel a deep longing for complete absorption into a "continuous present" (made possible by sex or drugs or some sort of trance-inducing activity). But here she seems trapped in a present which is no longer connected in any meaningful way to either a past or a future.  The moment when she scarred her own bare back was especially powerful--as was the sequence in which she repeatedly "whistled" in a way that suggested both panic disorientation. This built beautifully into the frantic movements in which she rotated her body weight precariously onto the sides of her feet. And the theatrical elements of the mise en scene were richly imaginative: the suspended white rectangles were striking in their own right, but also very effective as projection screens.   I especially liked the moments when we saw images of the actual theater refracted onto the screens. The layering of images was also striking (when the projections appeared on the back of the male dancer and his shadow was then projected onto another surface). His shadow is especially powerful as he takes his shirt off over his head. The images near the end ---of the woman with the tree branch and a scarf over her head --powerfully evoke not only migration, but also the plight of a refugee. And the final image (in which she plays the guitar as the lights behind her intensify) felt empowering. I got the impression that she was "in control" of her own destiny for the first time in the course of the dance. Not sure if that's what you intended, but that's what was conveyed to me in a powerful way. Finally, it makes perfect sense to learn from the credits that some of the text is by Maurice Blanchot, because he's so good at constructing a "land without man": the sort of environment that begs only for our absence. So... Congratulations.

"The traveller’s metaphor that we all are, even when we do not move" Né Barros's career blurs itself with the creation, in Porto, of the Balleteatro structure. Since the beginning of the 1990s she has been developing her unique career as a choreographer, which in the last ten years has been cross-culturing with the TNSJ, not only for the co-production of some shows ( the first was LM - Lady Macbeth in 1996), but also for her regular collaboration in some theatrical productions of this house, mainly as responsible for the coordination of movement. In this interview, the retrospective of her work serves mainly as a motto for exploring what is most important to retain: her ideas about dance, her very own aesthetic, the dichotomy between creations more rooted in a pre-existing support and others that tend to the more abstract.

RODRIGO AFFREIXO Né Barros's creations  are fully registered in the panorama of contemporary Portuguese dance (for what they have of experimental, postmodern, transdisciplinary ...), but are also set apart from the work of other creators, for two fundamental aspects: a continuous and elaborate emphasis  around the so-called "dance-dance" (always privileged relatively to other currents such as non-dance or dance-theatre) and a very own aesthetic universe, always coherent, very "scenic", something futuristic, permanently high-tech ... Do you agree?

NÉ BARROS I am pleased with the idea of my work being understood as "dance-dance". It's as if, somehow, my exploration of moving bodies made sense. That is, although one can recognize traces of some inspiration in various techniques, I try to create new challenges regarding the expressive potential of the gesture itself, knowing that this "in itself" is not an abstraction in relation to the individual who executes it. Therefore, there are always new questions in the analysis and composition of a body-in-motion. Dance, then, is not a mere adding of gestures, but the result of a crisis, that of how that body moves away or approaches a reference or a narrative, or how this body yields or resists an impersonality . "Dance-dance" exposes us to self-referentiality, meta-discourse, or a process of distance, but none of this necessarily subtracts us from intense emotions or experiences. They can give us the matter and the lenses to see, but there is still an inaccessible universe with which we have to live. All this can be lived with great intensity. My urgency is not in the objection as a goal. What I can say is that the restlessness, the need to see different and to respond more clearly is always present. I got used very early to appreciate and analyse the diversity and evolution of dance and the arts in general, and today we do not have a hegemonic object against which to react, at least from the point of view of artistic proposals. In this grand opening, where is the tradition? In the composition or in the gestural vocabulary? In communication strategies? Probably in all this, but it is absurd to think that the notion of composition automatically places us in the tradition. In another sense, I have always felt the stage as something very strange and with some rejection as a magic box or a trick machine. However, some of the things I explore most are perspectives and spatial relationships. Just as scenic objects or scenographies, when not non-existent, have a very specific function, they are thought of as presences with the same importance of bodies.

RA Taken from the programmatic intentions of the Balleteatro it is stated at a certain point: "A demand of contemporaneity of the dance. That will be translated by the updating of materials related to the body in motion and to the scenic and scenographic actors. Privileging the relationship with the 'theatre' - the text, the dramaturgy, the 'sound body' - some of the works presented also manifested the idea of installation through operation with other sources such as plastic arts, video, live music".  It seems to me that this search is blended with the very aesthetic premises of your work, imminently transdisciplinary, that has been exploring, from the beginning, the deconstruction and the boundaries between real and fiction ...

NB The quote to which you refer to is more comprehensive, in the sense of trying to situate the diverse creations of the company through the proposals of Isabel Barros, mine and the plan of activities of the Balleteatro. But I do not have a "program" in the sense of creatively situating myself. In fact, I do not even think of such issues in more immersive work moments, such as rehearsals. Only later, and with some distance, does the analysis arise - which, for me, is one of the important and fundamental moments of the process. At that moment, yes, I am discerning and unravelling what is happening, not in a programmatic but functional perspective and related to the concrete object that is being elaborated. I let my poetics be a work in progress, felt and thought of by others as well. As far as my work is concerned, it is true that I question myself about the limits, ambiguities or ambivalences between reality and fiction. But this, as we know, is a false question as far as the arts are concerned. Neither in the cinema, which would apparently operate this dichotomy perfectly, this issue is quickly torn apart. Art is construction and from there the fictional plane is imminent. However it does make a difference, from one or the other notion. Interactive projects tend to break with the dichotomy between reality and fiction, but they do not solve it definitively. Another example: when we are experiencing movements, it makes a difference to question what is experience of a given action and what is the representation of that same action. In the exercise of both they cannot be distinguished, but the results are affected and differ according to the starting point. If we tend to represent the action, the outcome is more likely to become something mimetic; while starting from the idea of the experience of the movement itself allows to open unforeseen paths. What I mean is that ultimately we cannot escape representation and that there are issues that have been losing relevance, but having them present and aware in our creative positioning can make a lot of difference. A body, in its movement or in its immobility, is simultaneously an experience of that state and immaterial in what it evokes, it is an individual and it is an image in movement ... Dance, for me, is always born of this critical and indecipherable moment and becomes fatally close to the limits of representation. This is the plan that most interests me and deconstruction is both the process and a stage of a process for a new construction. I once wrote a short text in which I said that I have a first question and that was: what will happen to that body, there, alone? This question has, for me, the driving value of a discovery on a given condition of that individual and at that moment the dancing body does not yet exist, but from the moment I put myself into a problem I am generating a necessary drive.

RA This possible relationship with pre-existing fictional material - as it happened in LM - Lady Macbeth (1996), Sleeping (1997), or is now happening  in With drooping wings - has been, in recent years, blurring in favour of exercises that are likely to the more abstract and refined around the movement (understood not only as mobility of the body, but as displacement in space, as travel). Thus, the tetralogy formed successively by Vooum (1999), No Fly Zone (2000), exo (2001) and Vaga (2003) - four variations on travel: travel, permanence, anything between the two (like a shuttle) and the wave (what goes back and forth, like the tides). Here lies the definition of its "movers", as it appears in the text of Vaga's presentation: "In a movement that goes from the crowd to the lonely [...] a new land of imperfect, incomplete inhabitants is being generated. My 'Movers' ". What will be your movements in this show-synthesis that you now propose?

NB The term "mover" is a neologism I use to name a little theory about the body in dance. But considering that, first of all, this theory is a direct reflection of a choreographic practice and questioning. I considered that the term should finally be attributed to what gave rise to it and that it began with the show Vooum. The reconstruction that I now propose allows to make a course: from the mass of bodies to the individual only (exo) - movement in closed circuit (No Fly Zone) - human landscape in movement (Vooum). This sequence moves in the direction of the closed to the open, from the dark to the light. But, for example, although this show as a whole does not anchor itself in a pre-existing text or material, it is possible to perceive a tragic and epic side that is usually found in other shows that you mentioned. However, I agree that we could distinguish two areas in my work: one of more textual and dramaturgic support, one more open on the themes or more abstract, if we want. In broad terms, the tendency has been or to use as a starting point pre-existent epic and tragic materials, textual which are exploited also musically, or starting points linked to human conditions in the urban, technological and artificial world. But these two tendencies do not follow a temporal regularity, either they arise alternately or consecutively as still with temporal gaps. I think that what makes me go back to pre-existing materials is almost like a need to limit myself and, in the first phase, to concentrate on understanding the other (author, composer, etc.). This feeling is, however, provisional because from a moment of creation the process becomes independent of the starting point, it is indifferent from a text or not. Another aspect that differentiates the works is the methodologies used in the process. When I start from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, I have myth and music as the starting point and try to activate the story in the way that most excites me, which is always the provisional and tragic condition of the human and its connections. The aim of dramaturgy in With drooping wings was to intensify and explore new senses to moving bodies from the perspective of the tragic and also the epic myth of Dido and Aeneas. It was in this sense that I invited Filipe Martins to create a film that would act as an antechamber of a love story, with the aim of multiplying different ways of seeing the tragic. Or, for the show, Manuel Casimiro for his work as the "ovoide", where we would have the side of the negative, the strange, death or the symbolic, and Carlos Guedes for a musical-sound intervention with moments of interactivity, on the more technological side.

RA In the same text, Deleuze tells us that the actor never plays a character but a theme. For this, it is necessary that the actor be himself change, transmutation. 'This is, for me, the great subject of the dancer.' " I ask you to explore this idea, also referring to possible creators who influenced you decisively and in your method of working with the dancers.

NB The great question that Deleuze puts in this quotation is that of impersonality. The actor and the dancer have great affinities, but we could still extend the concept of actor to the social individual. The great challenge seems to be, in any case, that of our acting to be more in the evolutionary and progressive sense and less rooted and crystallized. In the case of dance, this matter is not only the result of a creative proposal but it is, above all, a real plan of work, be it with regard to the performer's own performative capacity, or to the construction of the universe of performance or performance. The term "mover" is directly involved with these issues. It is simultaneously concept and artistic figure, theory and fiction. Despite changing work-to-work methodologies, I could say that the work process I normally use with the dancers is influenced by everything I just said. Very quickly I would say that I associate a familiarity of gesture, where I am going through the experience of the movement and configuring it (not to figure it) to a concrete rewriting of the movement, through which the dancer tells, let us say, his story from the other. From what I am saying, I believe that some influences of the considered postmodern thought are perceived. But regardless of the labels, my influences come from different artistic and philosophical areas. As an example, I can say that I was interested in the study of the so-called postmodern movement of American dance, where I can highlight the creator Trisha Brown, for example; or the study of the choreographic proposals considered thing like created, like Schelemmer or Nikolais; or the study of theatricality and the processes of materializing new narratives, as in Bausch or, in a very different sense, in Bagouet. But, as I say, the influences are more in diversity than the specific ones of one or another creator. Just as I can neither appreciate the work of a creator and be interested in how he solved certain problems and presented new resolutions.

RA It can be said that you were able to create an almost permanent team of collaborators, both in the cast of dancers (there are almost chronic names, such as Elisabete Magalhães or Sónia Cunha) and the creative ones (Alexandre Soares or Daniel Blaufuks, for example). Is this complicity and permanence a guarantee of a work in progress or has it not been properly premeditated?

NB It is always premeditated, but it is not always a work in progress. My choices are always based on the sum of the specific artistic interests of each one involved in the construction of the show and human interests (I could not repeat working with confrontational people who are alien to personal and professional relationships). Basically, in a direct and basic way, I would say that I would not be able to work with people who do not respect art or whom I just do not like ... When I say that it is not always a work in progress, I mean that since I do not have a macro -project or a program, as I mentioned earlier, as a starting point, from work to work I tend to rethink everything again: the materials, the performers, the collaborators. When I repeat, it is because for each singular project that group of people makes sense. Repetition widens the networks of complicity and creates new connections between things. We all grow together and at times everything seems to make sense on the way to an even bigger and more global construction, but it may not be intentional and just the feel and value of a project ... Now there are times when it is rewarding working with people who know us and who already know how to predict what was not said or to anticipate it. This is what happens, for example, with Sónia and Elisabete: I have a privileged relationship with them, a relationship that has matured, both from a professional point of view and from a personal point of view. With Alexandre, the collaboration began in 1998 with Vooum and I chose him because he knew his work in very different environments from the show (actually, he had done with another musician, and many years ago, only a job for dance). I was interested in his kind of sonority and musicality and I thought it would be perfect for the project that I had in mind and that was linked to urban environments and travel. And with this show, our first joint work, I realized that there was still much to explore, I did not see its end ... Daniel Blaufuks entered this same project and also researched about his work and was also a collaboration that, in addition to excellent, I immediately opened up new ideas and questions for other projects. It was repeated in No Fly Zone again and it has only not happened more times due to work schedule impossibilities.

RA In the show text of Vaga, at a certain moment,  you mention: "The compatibility, several times tested, of movement and music is mainly for the creation of a concrete space of movement, continuous, but also a space where one makes dance heard as well as the interruption and suspension of gesture and sound. " How has this process been unfolding with Alexandre Soares?

NB What I mean by this is that, in addition to my dance and Alexandre's music building a place and an environment with certain aesthetic characteristics, dance and music often result from the same presuppositions. As was the case with Vaga. Usually the end result of the different joint works, dance and music work as autonomous objects but together they create a coherent universe, even when they compete with each other. Continuity, suspension or interruption are not just supporting effects to anything greater, they are dance and music. But there is another tendency in our work, which is to enter into an infinite variation or a sequence in such a long way that it becomes increasingly material and less syntactic. Hence the interruption or suspension gain a special value in the composition.

RA I would like you to develop the general concept of this cycle, and tell us how this multiplicity of supports (cinema, dance-on-stage, performance, video installation) will articulate itself together.

NB This project, as a whole, has as its performative object the exploration of the intelligent landscape or the human as a landscape. We speak, therefore, of a dynamic landscape of a body in constant transmutation, whether the body in its movements as drifting over a narrative (With drooping wings) or the body in its purest and most disinterested movements (Movimentantes). From the point of view of a concept, this project could be thought of as a new space or as a sort of place, say, post-homeland. That is, a fictional place of figures which do not know where they come from and that are always in circulation. The traveller's metaphor that we all are, even when we do not move. In this project  several aspects of the arts that interest me, are gathered, - music, cinema, the plastic arts - and its articulation is evidently subjective, but it was worked and thought to be clear in what you want to convey and make feel. I hope it happens.

p> One of the most interesting choreographers of the national panorama of contemporary dance, Né Barros returns tomorrow, Thursday, to TeCA with once again a work not to be missed. About "Dia Maior" I had already the opportunity twice, as an invitation of the author for the TNSJ and by editorial suggestion to “O Comércio do Porto”, to say a few words about my understanding of the project.  I understood the show in two different contexts, the creativity, boldness and profoundness of the questions asked by Né Barros, continue to seduce me profoundly and to captivate me by her intelligence in approaching the semiotic and rapport universe of the body.

After the unsettling “Vaga”, which besides having taken a great deal of cinema references, from Lynch to Cronenberg who populate my imagery, has asked a series of questions, as pertinent as unsettling, about the autonomous extensions of the body’s genetic memory with the cleaver use of the “suitcase-screen” and with a set of captivating and coherent choreographic constructions. In “Dia Maior” the experimentation, the watched abandonment, the escape to the shadows of time produced a more organic show, conducing the problematic of the inter-body relationships, space/time and communicability/identity through provoking, seductive and restless territories. In his fifth collaboration with Né Barros, Alexandre Soares comes to the stage, contaminating, since birth to death, Né’s most recent work.

Despite maintaining almost genetic references to the seventh art, so well expressed in the works of Canijo, the guitarist from the TTT feeds rupture movements with the preconceived, being the protagonist of chilling over-constructions, surprising by the dynamic and creativity of the “live act” pointing to several directions of the abstract, another territory which lures me greatly. "Dia Maior" results of several lesser days in perpetual reconstruction, interior/exterior, plural and one, dilated and compressed in micro-narratives of the solitary awakening, the conflict of body while object of a desire, symbol, emission of signs, to the epiphany of the Other, while last possibility of salvation in the discovery of the identity in the communication, in the transcendence, in the meta-physicality. A suggestion not to be missed, "Dia Maior" inaugurates tomorrow the programme 2005 of TeCA. Contemporary dance at its best, in the Teatro Carlos Alberto, in Porto, until Saturday at 21h30.

We observe first an open and already prepared scene, whose elements indicate that the plot will occur in several spaces of the same scene, suggesting different dimensions and stages according to how far the audience and the other spaces are. Still we understand from the first words we hear that there is a desire of territory that does not depend of clear identification, having subjected the actions to an aware arbitrariness. Throughout the choreography we observe how the creations contribute for the creation of a discreet atmosphere which is never forced to a clarification or which is never looking for a single meaning.
Segundo Plano flows from the orchestrated encounter between sounds, movements, light and bodies being supported by a network of free bonds. The “occurrence and converging stages” build a surreptitious dramaturgy which seeks to escape the obvious and the “radical fragmentation”. Thus, perhaps it would be more accurate to name this discrete landscape a procedure of illusions, which together with “hierarchy in the perception and meaning construction” produces changes in what we observe, yet still can balance these elements never allowing the audience to feel lost.
The choreographer is orchestrating what seems vague, rare and unattainable, having pleasure pulling the threads of possible narratives, shadows of characters and strings of ideas without ever searching, and well might I add, and without ever proposing a meaning. There are sounds that start on stage and are prolonged to the outside. There are chorographical sentences that move from one performer to the other without losing its nature and there are light games which open new areas leaving for the imagination what lies in the edges.
By giving the four performers (Bruno Teixeira, Joana Castro, Pedro Rosa and Sónia Cunha) an individual space that they must be able to fill in through the rarity of intentions, Né Barros gives them a space to explore the dramaturgy and their own body – white as a canvas, one could say, given the multiple potential bonds. It is mainly Joana Castro e Pedro Rosa who, in the brightness of their performances, best deal with the density of this play with the right angle in the movement ambition, intelligence in the narrative time management and richness by the subtleties of a construction that knows how to make the best of the tensions that stem from the different sources of inspiration. One of those sources is the soundtrack by Alexandre Soares, a fifth body also choreographed and which through sound – multiple and convergent – shapes atmospheres and spaces.
It is in the freedom of bonds between the “ambiguity areas” and in the less than obvious atmosphere set in the scene that Segundo Plano overcomes a dreamlike dimension, shuffles “the order of importance of things” and materialises in a sensitive shuttle, weaving a multiple and unique portrait of independent images of which Né Barros manages with a moving sensibility.

We could name With Drooping Wings, an opera of heterogeneity. Taking the classical myth of Dido and Aeneas, Né Barros persists in the search for the possibility of the contingent body, deprived of social identity, centred in the exteriority and stuck to the transitory. However, this time, the choreographer opposes the horizontalness of a magma of intensities which goes through the bodies and returns them to the unity of the multiple, a set of vertical images inherited from the western iconographic tradition. These images are offered to us as forces of cultural anchor, pockets of historical density or reservations of meaning capable of interfering in the process of de-structure that Dido and Aeneas, machine like and driven, compete.

The narrative of Aeneid, poem of propaganda commissioned by the roman emperor Caesar Octavius Augustus to Virgil, in the year of 19 B.C. – where the tragedy of Dido and Aeneas is included – sets off from the episode of the destruction of the city of Troy and ends in the episode of the foundation of a new city in the Lazio, which in the mythological order would become Rome. Virgil’s Aeneid is based in a cycle of metamorphoses, of deletion and surges which poses to us, before all others, the problem of the genesis of images and its history.

The meeting of Dido and Aeneas, who are recognised in the condition of exiled (she, who was also named Elissa, is a princess of Tyre runaway from her country to Libya, where she founds Carthage; he, a Trojan prince outcast after the looting and burning of his city ) is bred from the play of rediscovery of a body of images between two dispossessed of the heritage of maternal representations. Aeneas becomes emotional with the frescoes at the Temple of Hera, where the scenes of the Trojan War, seven years before, are reproduced. Dido, in her turn, is conquered by the stories of Aeneas which tell the ruin of Troy and his voyage through Thrace, Crete, Epirus and from Sicily until Carthage.

The exercise of historical translation, original source of images and mild, modest hallucination shared and “touched by the real” (as Roland Barthes is referred to the photography in its double nature of testimony and absence) is the first pleasure discovered by the lovers. The joint living of the war images – intimate and political experience, this is, private and public at the same time – begins an accelerated process of deindividuation. The lovers are taken by an erotic fever which makes them distance from the social place they occupy and transform the historical future which is theirs to take. Dido gradually becomes less responsible for governing Carthage (renouncement which will lead her to suicide) and Aeneas abandons the mission to found Rome. The matter gives way to energy in free circulation. Dido and Aeneas are transformed into bodies without organs, this is, as Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari defined, a body of libido immanence or in a plane of specific consistence of desire as mechanism of production, without reference to external forces.

Starting from the declared war to the organs by Antonin Artaud, the body without organs in Deleuze and Guattari (BwO, in the ironic formula of its authors) is not a notion, but a programme, a practice or a set of practices, as explained in Mille Plateaux/Capitalisme et Schizophrénie 2. Opposing itself to the interpretation, the ghost, the subjectivism and to the «semiotization» of the subject as a support against ambiguity, the ambivalence and the depravation, the body without organs is a body voted to the de-structure of the self and the image with those I identify with. Dido and Aeneas are then a body of flows non stigmatized in a representation, organised in stages (the plateaux) or fragments of the immanence, where the anarchy and the unity, by means of experience, are one and the same, in the unity of the multiple. « Remplacez l’amnèse par l’oubli, l’interpretation par l’experimentation. Trouvez votre corps sans organes, sachez le faire, c’est question de vie ou de mort, de jeunesse ou de veillessse, de tristesse et de gaieté. Et c’est là que tout se joue. »

In With Drooping Wings by Né Barros, I sense a will to update and radicalize the central problem of the Dido and Aeneas myth: if it is in the exercise of the images (between the optical and the mnemonic) that the lovers recognize each other, for what order of representation is the history of images forwarded when the lovers become pure desiring machines? The conflict is polarized between the body-machine (and the horizontalness of its work or, inversely, of an unregulated freedom) and the iconography (and the verticality in which the representations are presented).

Hence, the narrative progression – here served by the opera Dido and Aeneas of Henry Purcell – develops itself according to a double stress, either in the gradual restoration of a multitude and anomic territory (in which the bodies roam, accumulated in the machine like depletion and the absence of a collective organization), or the repeated surprise by the irruption of the epiphany in which we identify each time a moment of the history of the images (and particularly of the history of painting), which is formed with the same swiftness as it immediately disappears. In these episodes of convergence, basic but exalted, we recognise, inadvertently, the three graces of Botticelli’s The Spring, Michelangelo’s Birth of Man, the dawn parades of Apollo in some Italian baroque painting, a Narcissus looking for its own reflection in the banks of the space of representation, Géricault’s  The Raft of the Medusa, the African masks and its influence over cubism and brute art.   

In a space inhabited by bodies without organs as those of With Drooping Wings, crossed by the circulation of intensities that incite them, through new lines of escape, to the permanent «unterritorialization» (these bodies do not reinterpret the space but are violently transformed by the movement of crossing it), those epiphanies are presented as particular reservations of meaning and interpretation, conserved, if not for anything more, as advised Deleuze and Guattari, to oppose them to the very own system in development. In the dilution of the category of the self, with the consequent loss of place of enunciation, we observe the emergence of the principles of indexation or index devices as the flashing of images – or partial versions of images – which integrate the consciousness of our heritage, to a time, individual and cultural.

Dido and Aeneas stop being queen of Carthage and Trojan prince guided by the project of founding a new city in Italy, forget the images that drew them closer to embrace the mechanism of «reterritorialization » which is pleasure. The micro-perceptions and the micro-movements substitute the world of the subject, the singularities take the place of identities and the bodies without organs celebrate the disarticulation (or the coexistence of an infinity of articulations), the experience and the nomadic (activity of de-subjectivism which can be concluded in the immovable voyage of the walks of Dido and Aeneas through the city of Carthage) as ways giving life to life and the body to experience.

Only  when Zeus finally decides to send Hermes on a visit to Aeneas, to remind him of His historical fate – to found Rome, substitute of Troy -, the lovers return to a rigid stratification and to the fascist risk, demented or  suicidal that it entails in its organization, meaning and subjectivism.

Aeneas decides to retake his interrupted voyage and his mission, closing himself in a totalitarian and expansionist body. Dido, desperate, tries to convince the Trojan to wait for favourable winds to set sail with his fleet and allow her, a time of suspension in order to live less violently the new territorialisation («I ask for a dead time, rest and truce to my madness, while my destiny teaches me to endure the pain of defeat. This is the last favour I beg of you. »).  Seeing her request denied and her love frustrated, Dido becomes initially a cancerous body of meaning which blocks the circulation of signs and stops the transition to another BwO. At the same time, she experiments a kind of radical hallucination which is a disturbance of the perception of exteriority (from then on, the sacred water seems cloudy, the wine is converted to blood, she hears the voice of her late husband, she dreams herself walking by endless paths in desolate landscapes) as a perception tormented by the body’s internal organs, in an endoscopic hallucination, by seeing herself consumed by grief.

Dido, overwhelmed by the violent de-territorialization, searches finally to produce an empty body, by means of a total symbolic destruction. She gets rid of all the small reservations of meaning that resisted the collapse of her relationship with Aeneas and asks for a burning pyre to be lit, where she places the weapons and all traces of her lover, including the bed where they had slept together. While the pyre burns, Dido lets herself fall over Aeneas’s sword, killing herself. The bodies of Dido and Aeneas are transformed into doubles (or caricatures) of a BsO. They crystallise. They die. 

At the end of With Drooping Wings in which gradually the movement becomes rarefied and Dido appears to us dead in the vertical position (as she conserves, malgré tout, a cultural reserve), a huge ovoid invades the scenic space, final image which is linked to the idea of morphogenesis (as the ovoid with which Manuel Casimiro disturbs some images of the history of art, subtracted to the plot of our cultural matrix), but also, to the Deleuze egg, nucleus of the intensity at its highest degree of purity, the zero intensity, the spatio (instead of extensio). The egg is, to Deleuze, the point of fundamental escape between science and myth, between biology and cosmology and, in a process of ceaseless production, not located before nor after the events – as in the linearity of psychoanalytical analysis – but the subtle germinal contemporaneity between adult and child. The egg excludes all the hypothesis of projection and regression and exists – as in the universe of the images (the represented and entailed of the micro and macroscopy) – in a regression which does not promise redemption from the progress nor laments the lost paradises, but is invariably creative and contemporary.

If we propose the rereading of the myth of Dido and Aeneas under the perspective of the philosophies of difference – and I think the premise of With Drooping Wings goes in that sense – it is because even Aeneid remaining a celebration of Rome’s imperial power. To see in Dido Cleopatra and in Aeneas , Marc Anthony who defy Caesar (and are by him defeated in the maritime battle of Actium) or to take Dido as metonymy of Middle East and North of Africa, last dominations conquered by the Romans, is today a worthless exercise. More urgent it is to understand the project of the substitution of the beliefs by the images (that unite the lovers in an historical conscious and in a creative vortex) which makes Dido and Aeneas elements in a same process of heterogeneity which only fails by not succeeding in reorienting the pleasure for its most complex expression – the plane of immanence of intensity zero – and is extinguished when the bodies succumb, heavy, to the identity caricature of social representation. 

At that time, the body was still a destination to where all the memories converged, in an attitude vaguely sweet, entirely oneiric

In the choreographical writing of Né Barros the body is always evoked as a territory at a time foreign and intimate, because replete of rhythms and gestures that are ours unique. Is a metaphysical body that infects the spectator by the desire of the unconscious and of the oneiric.            

In “Solistas” we are one more time in presence of interpreters in absence of limits and that, constantly, recreate themselves in new personages, letting them be surprised with the possibilities of their own body. They learn to feel. They learn to speak.

Né Barros returns, in this work, to the strong and metaphoric images that characterize her so well, but do that in a pure form, with a limited contention, without any excess or unnecessary gesture. The stage breathes without fear of the emptiness and to the spectator is made an invitation to enter in this landscape for times playful and infantile, other times solitary and in discouragement. The interpreters/characters have abetter behaviour between them, in an empathy that, sometimes, reveals itself disordering       .

“Solistas” put to us the problematic of the gesture and the limit of the body, assuming a subjective and intimate discourse which the imminent contact with the other assumes is most primary form, in making revive primary experiences of gratifications and affections. We assist to the questioning of the limits that found the subjective discourses, where the self universe of everyone conjugates in sounds and with a true without frontiers which is a collective (in)conscience. It is a plural and multiple universe which has as a paradigm the relation between the individual and the collective. This work is under the sign of the origin fascination where, constantly, it is questioned the relation between the thought, the feeling and the body, taking to the limit the search of the originary moment of this relation.

Né Barros, in the introduction of her new contemporary dance piece, Estrangeiros (Foreigners), premiered in Guimarães (within ECC2012), invokes the inspiration in The Foreigner (1942), one of the most importante books by Camus, in which he reflects the very essence of his vision of the world and of life, defined by the critics as ‘the philosophy of the absurd’. Camus’ The Foreigner wanders in the world in an inconsequent way, without any direction or meaning.

The sensation of total strangeness regarding the everyday life, its surroundings and the so-called reality flows from the text. And that i salso what we experiment in Né’s work, a continuous display of the absurdity within the body movements, the total strangeness that assists the less familiar movements, heavily explored in the piece. The performers unfold themselves, transform themselves, they shrink, they stretch, in unusual poses which awaken our senses and trouble us, all done in even less common rythmic movements, in kind of a staccatus of the bodily movement.

[...] the performance starts with six people on stage, holding five guitars and a bass, playing vigorously in a hard-rock rhythm, when the performers (Bruno Senune, Flávio Rodrigues, Joana Castro and Pedro Rosa) drop the guitars, while throughout the whole performance two musicians linger on stage (Alexandre Soares and Jorge Queijo) [...]

Behind the musicians a panorama runs, which lightens up from time to time and on which interactive scribbles are projected over a black background (by João Martinho), that continuously suffer distortions in a straight relation with the performers, whether from their movement or from their voice and moan.

Throughout the performance, the strings transform, evolving to heavier levels, almost reaching trash metal, resembling the sound of Metallica from the ‘80s, then going through moments of psychedelic strangeness, evoking the ‘70s science fiction, moving forward to moments of some of the purest electronic ambience, and culminating with the sonorous and sharp sound of a portuguese guitar. All this had, at the same time, the visual projection of shapes that interactively follow what was happening on stage, everything absolutely wrapped by a perfect Light design (Alexandre Vieira). [...] All this technical-artistical formality is served with excelent dance performances of the absurd, capable of making us feel involved ando f transporting us into an existential journey.

A startlingly effective drone runs through the new collaboration between Galician artist Xoán-Xil López and the trio Haarvöl (Fernando José Pereira, João Faria, and Rui Manuel Vieira) on the three stilling pieces on Unwritten Rules of a Ceaseless Journey. In 2019 to date, this is by far, my favorite record. It’s a bit breathtaking and hard to write about as I listen. The track The Pulsating Waves (Reality) calls for more of a lateral experience since the mediating tones are as sublime as subliminal. These works touch on three nearly intangible states of mind: utopia, reality and trauma – in that order. The first two really find a perfect balance even while referencing impossible texts such as The Utopian Function of Art and Literature (1964), and making references to “cataclysms of industry, rampant misery, naked exploitation, the ecological apocalypse“. Oh, such is the everyday.

Though their collaboration juxtaposes the sense of euphoria that comes with hovering drones by imposing the concept of all variants of time: past, present, and future. This work documents pieces composed for dance (Ballet Teatro‘s Revoluções) by choreographer Né Barros. Field recordings abridge electronics somewhere in the middle and the pairing of this quartet of creatives is genius. And by the end of the second part it’s as though we’ve been through some sort of industrial cleansing.

As Don’t Look Back, Run (Trauma) opens somewhere in the darkened orchestral corners, the setting sort of falls to the depths of the soundstage as if falling away into space. The bare bones percussion is uniquely minimal and the waveform is set back, drifting moderately. About one-third through you hear what sounds like strings calling out, wavering a bit as if sending an encoded distress signal. López has taken this amalgamated tale to a secret place while upending the tension with the harmonics of Haarvöl. While a rotor seems to be at play the bereft refrain continues through until nearly the end, and after fading from earshot the listener is left with something pressurized that seems to be sinking away into some sort of watery depths. You can easily imagine bodies (dancers) undulating into darkness.

IN toneshift.net

Sobre um Sol Subterrâneo
Published in Público – Peças Soltas

At the party that marked the establishment of Balleteatro at the Coliseu do Porto, Né Barros, Alexandre Soares and Flávio Rodrigues celebrated their sun worship with this show (premiered at Constantino Nery, at the Cena Contemporânea festival). And I wrote some words of appraisal to the artists:


To go inside Coliseu and run it as if it were a child, as if it were one of the dozens of children that circulated in the space on that day of the Balleteatro's inauguration there, to enter that room where an orchestra before played and the couples danced more or less clinging together, imagining a version of O Baile, by Ettore Scola, going in and meeting a guitarist and a dancer covered with a golden, or almost golden, cloak glittering from the inside, sitting on the floor and waiting - all this prepared the experience to come, the act of watching this creation by the choreographer Né Barros, with the musician Alexandre Soares and the performer Flávio Rodrigues, a kind of proof, the demonstration of the existence of an Underground Sun.
Then, I would read in the program that the title of the show is due to a poem by Luís Miguel Nava:
O sol é subterrâneo, aquele a que eu
me quero hoje estender é o do meu espírito, é preciso
cavar bem fundo até o fazer surgir.
[The sun is underground, that to which I
Want to lie is that of my spirit, it is needed
To dig deep until it may come.]

At that moment, my experience had already been constituted in such a way that the words of the poem seemed to translate what had happened. Since the sound and the movement in that space had put me in communion with the performers through the sharing of that invisible, hidden, alchemical sun, of each one, and what I had seen out of two artists pulling their lives out of the earth with their hands, light in all forms. The program also read that “this choreographic and musical project finds its order and disorder between the open sky and the most intimate and deep cry”. It was then that I was converted. These words described what happened to me. I had just participated in a ceremony to initiate a sacred cult of the physics of celestial bodies and subatomic elements. Orphans of shamanism, contemporaries have to reinvent that original contact with the inner sun, and relearn alchemy to discover the philosopher's stone that is each of us and, at the same time, all of us are. The Coliseu already seemed to me a temple of the occult sciences, at the turn of the XIX to XX century, in which dance, bombing and astrology madly intersected itself.

Mysticism has limits. My base is material. The two performers showed not only their vast repertoire, and their total mastery of their respective artistic languages, but also what they don't have and what they don't know yet. Let me explain myself: exploring their technical skills to go further, beyond perfect execution, in order to discover other things, they opened up the field of possibilities of musical form and choreographic form, allowing here and there glimpses of what was until then invisible in the experience of the world. I speak of the concrete experience of the world, both of bodies in motion on the streets and in institutions - schools, cafes, shopping centres - that are seen in the media - cinema, TV and internet - as well as in more or less spontaneous sounds and noises, more or less artificial, that populate our day-to-day, our dreams, our shared imagery. The show took place covering all possible dimensions of the body and instruments, all images of the male body in effort and propulsion, from sport to fighting, from sex to dance, and the entire auditory spectrum, chords, noises, crystalline notes, with a soundtrack that left that function and category to take on the role of acting and co acting - let alone because there was also a composer and performer, in dialogue with the scene and the other performer. And it was when walking this path, when generating this flow, that the quantum field emerged, where this underground sun shines, and where the choreographic poem joins the original poem.

The guitar in distortion as tension and release, running, jumping, repetition, in short, countless other aspects of this creation, are like elementary particles of vitality in art, non-verbal articulations, placed in the same place as the voice, that thing that it is no longer a body and it is not yet speech (as the anthropologist Joaquim Pais de Brito puts it), elements whose combination causes what was hitherto only embers of this ancient inner fire, which consumes us, from which we keep going away over and over again when we mortify ourselves, a fire that burns with euphoria, it reduces us to the raw material, also it makes us return, again and again, from the ashes, ploughing fearlessly.