This post is also available in: Português (Portuguese (Portugal))
October 29 and 30, 2021 – 9:00 pm
M/6 years old
Approximate duration: 60 minutes
Twenty-six years ago I created the first piece by Companhia Paulo Ribeiro: Saturday 2. Those were times when I believed and believed that anything would be possible. The world promised to open, Europe was consolidating a common project and Portugal was committed to becoming bigger. From Saturday to Monday a weekend and a quarter of a century passed. It was beautiful, it was intense and, above all, it allowed me to make dreams come true. The current moment requires some balance. Sometimes, by force of doing, there is a look that can be lost in a time that surpasses us.
Second 2 seems to me to be the continuation logic of a project that is necessarily an author and that arises from the imperative of all of us returning to supposed normality. Individual work with a focus on the collective. It’s the beginning of the week, the right time to produce and move forward. We all learned a lot from the times that globally we were forced to (exceed) pass. We returned to anchor projects, we returned with the desire to do better, we returned with the dimension of our dream and the desire to make up for the time that was left behind. We returned with the immense desire to be close again, to celebrate life, to rediscover the party.
It is a choreography that challenges itself, that places itself on the threshold of failure that will always be an ally and not an adversary. A piece that summons up some memories from so many others and that, in its secret paths, draws inspiration from much of what times have given us. We don’t look at failure as an obstruction, just as we don’t look at all the broken dreams, the impasses that insist on being a condition of life, the cultural dynamics, so often inconclusive, the vain attempt to fix and build.
The dance continues in a confined place, but that doesn’t interest us, next Monday everything will change, if not the next one, it will be the next or the next, and for that to happen, we will continue to challenge each other, to play, to provoke and exorcise the failure. Let’s be singular and collective. Let’s rejoin the party. Let’s find the body again. Let’s keep dancing.
26 YEARS COMMITTED TO THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE
Conversation between Paulo Ribeiro and Fernando Luís Sampaio in August 2021.
In 2020, Companhia Paulo Ribeiro [CPR] completed 25 years of existence. For the national context, it is a remarkable path. How were these 25 years?
The 25 years, which are now 26, were remarkable. Right from the first play, Saturday 2, created at the CCB, we had lots of tours that made us spend one day in New York, two days later in Berlin, Budapest, Paris, etc. In addition to the intense international circulation, we started and implemented the Teatro Viriato project, in Viseu. Basically, the Company is committed to the present and the future. Despite all the fluctuations we are all subject to, CPR has managed to maintain this commitment.
You are a dancer and simultaneously artistic director of the Company. Did your dancing career not suffer from this accumulation of responsibilities?
My career as a dancer did not suffer, despite having had very interesting challenges as a performer when I decided to dedicate myself more to choreography. Jorge Salavisa’s invitation to me to choreograph for the Gulbenkian was decisive to “cement” my definitive return to Portugal. Later, with CPR, I was still the interpreter of my plays for a long time.
Twenty-five years ago the Nova Dança Portuguesa emerged, as a result of the desire to create professional conditions for many structures. What hope have you placed in the future of Portuguese dance?
I always thought that Portuguese dance could have the same professional conditions, visibility and national and international recognition as its European counterparts. I still believe it is possible today… However, I confess to some disappointment. The strong moments of affirmation of the Portuguese Dance were not enough to establish roots. We never left a “craft” dimension.
Although your Company has projected itself beyond the national territory, do you think that the much-vaunted internationalization of Portuguese creators has been visible? What remains to be done?
The visibility of Portuguese creators has been happening, but it is scattered and inconsequential. In my view, cultural diplomacy needs to be put on its feet. It is not enough to be welcomed for lunch at the Embassy when we are in an important city and we are noticing, constant démarches are needed to approach dissemination and dissemination, a mission in this regard is necessary. Diplomacy must have this purpose: to disseminate the culture of your country as much as possible, in this case, dance. We work little with the rest of the world and very little with Portuguese-speaking countries. Our French, Belgian, German, etc. colleagues have organizations that guarantee them circulation and residences all over the world. Our alienation is such that, to give an example, in 2009, when Ballet de Nancy presented my Ballet Gulbenkian pieces at the Théâtre de la Ville, in Paris, I was not interviewed by a single Portuguese radio or television.
For years you were responsible for the artistic direction of Teatro Viriato, in Viseu. The network of theatres then created by the country opened new perspectives for cultural policies. In your opinion, did they come to pass?
The new perspectives of cultural policies are being fulfilled. It is true that the country currently has fantastic equipment, now, in many cases, it lacks the rest, which are conditions to be able to program. We are constantly faced with minimal budgets, gymnastics is always huge to be able to plan with a minimum of dignity. There is no equipment in this country that has a budget that allows it to dream, none that can approach the scale of a European partner.
We went through this pandemic trance that caused deep wounds in the cultural fabric. What future for the performing arts? What remains to be done?
The moment is very difficult and I confess that I don’t know how to answer. Cultural agents, artists, equipment, institutions, have not let down their arms and continue to work intensely. They do everything they can to keep alive the hope and desire for a better future… As for what remains to be done, I think the answer has already been given. It is necessary to invest more and more seriously in cultural dynamics.
What projects do you have for your company? Another 25 years?
Another 25 years certainly not, or at least with me. I have many more projects and they are the same ones I’ve been trying to put up for a long time, which often glimpses light at the end of the tunnel, but after all, it’s an optical illusion. Uma Casa da Dança, a company with a fixed cast, its own space that welcomes, co-produces and presents, an effective network of partnerships worldwide. Dance as an Inescapable Language or Art.
Born in Lisbon, it was in several Belgian and French companies that he made a career as a dancer until his steps led him to choreographic creation.
His debut as a choreographer took place in 1984, in Paris, within the scope of the Stridanse company, of which he was co-founder, and which led him to participate in several competitions in that city, obtaining, in the year of his debut as a creator, the award for « Humor” and, in the following year, in 1985, he won the 2nd prize for “Contemporary Dance”, both in the Volinine Contest.
Returning to Portugal, in 1988, he started by collaborating with the Lisbon Dance Company and with the Ballet Gulbenkian, for which he created, respectively, Taquicardia (Prémio «Revelação» by the newspaper Sete, in 1988) and Ad Vitam. With the solo Modo de Uso, performed by himself, he represented Portugal at the Festival Europalia 91, in Brussels.
His career as a choreographer expanded internationally, from 1991 onwards, with the creation of works for renowned companies: Nederlands Dans Theater II (Enchanted by Serving You and Waiting for Volup), Nederlands Dans Theater III (New Age ); Grand Théâtre de Genève (Une Histoire de Passion); Center Chorégraphique de Nevers, Bourgogne (Le Cygne Renversé); Lorraine’s Ballet (White Feeling e Organic Beat). For the Gulbenkian Ballet, he also created: Oscillating Paths, Tenants, Four Opera Arias, Off-1 Comedy, White and Organic Beat, Organic Cage, Organic Feeling.
Meanwhile, in 1994, the creator was awarded the “Acarte/Maria Madalena de Azeredo Perdigão” Prize for the work Dançar Cabo Verde, commissioned by Lisbon 94 – European Capital of Culture and carried out jointly with Clara Andermatt.
In 1995, he founded the Companhia Paulo Ribeiro, for which he has created the following choreographies: Sábado 2 (1995); Rumor of Gods (1996); Emerald Blue (1997); Stone Memories – Fallen Time (1998/2019); Live (1999); Comedy Off (2000); Sad Europeans – Jouissez Sans Entraves(2001); Silicone No (2003); The Memories of a Saturday with Rumors by Azul (2005); Malgré Nous, Nous Étions Là (2006); Male (2007); Feminine (2008); Majorca (2009); Saturday 2 (2010 reassembly); Landscapes – where black is colour (2010); Jim'(2012); Without you there cannot be a self (2013); Mode of Use (1990/2014); The Party (of Insignificance) (2015); Ceci n’est pas un film – Duet for Apple and Egg (2016), Walking with Kylián. Never Stop Searching (2017) and, more recently, Le Chef D’Orchestre (2019) for the National Ballet Company (CNB) in co-production with the Theater National de Chaillot.
Working with his own company allowed him to better develop his language as a choreographer. And the recognition didn’t take long. As early as 1996, the work Rumor de Deuses was distinguished with the prizes for «National Circulation», awarded by the Portuguese Institute of Ballet and Dance, and «International Circulation», awarded by the Cultural Center of Courtrai, both within the scope of the 96 Changes competition In 1999, the choreographer also won the «Almada» Prize awarded by the Portuguese Institute of Spectacle Arts.
Throughout his career, he has won several other important awards, such as the “Prix d’ Auteur”, at the V Rencontres Chorégraphiques Internationales in Seine-Saint-Denis (France); the ‘New Coreography Award’ given by the Bonnie Bird Fund-Laban Center (Great Britain), the ‘Prix d’Interpretation Collective’ given by ADAMI (France); or even the “Prémio Bordalo” of the Casa da Imprensa (2001).
In 2009, he received two more distinctions: the “Contemporâne Choreographer” award at the 1st Portugal Dance Awards, and the “Público” award at the Croatian Dance Week Festival. He was recently awarded the “Best Choreography of 2010” award by the Portuguese Authors Society, for the show Paisagens – where black is colour.
In addition to the work he has developed in his author company, Paulo Ribeiro was commissioner of the Dancem cycle, in 1996 and 1997, at the Teatro Nacional São João. Between 1998 and 2003, he held the position of general director and of Theater Programming Viriato/CRAEB (Regional Center for Performing Arts of Beiras), and was also the curator for Dance in Coimbra 2003 – European Capital of Culture.
In 2006, he returned to Teatro Viriato, to reoccupy the position of General and Programming Director, this after the extinction of Ballet Gulbenkian, which he directed between 2003 and 2005, having in that period received the «Prémio Bordalo» from the Casa da Imprensa Portuguesa ( 2005) for the work developed with this company.
In 2008, he participated as a choreographer in the production Evil Machines, by Terry Jones, for São Luiz Teatro Municipal. In 2010, he choreographed the show Sombras, by Ricardo Pais. And, in 2011, he created Desafinado, for the group Dançar com a Diferença (Madeira), and also a quartet for the collective show Uma Coisa em Forma de Assim, with CNB, for which he subsequently created Du Don de Soi, a show all night long, about the filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, and Lídia, in 2014. The creator also worked in cinema, with the conception of the choreography for La Valse, a film by João Botelho.
Paulo Ribeiro has also been dedicated to training, leading several workshops in Portugal, but also in countries where the company has been present. He taught the subject of Choreographic Composition, under the Masters in Contemporary Choreographic Creation, promoted by the Escola Superior de Dança, and taught at the National Conservatory of Dance.
In 2016, Paulo Ribeiro left the direction of Teatro Viriato and Companhia Paulo Ribeiro, to take over the artistic direction of CNB, at the invitation of the Ministry of Culture, until July 2018.
In 2019, he launched the Casa da Dança project in Almada.
Paulo Ribeiro Company
Created in 1995, Companhia Paulo Ribeiro is a Portuguese contemporary dance company, with its own repertoire of pieces, mostly created by Paulo Ribeiro (having received several national and international awards); but also by other guests creators. Resident structure at Teatro Viriato since 1998, it is from there that it develops its research, creation, production, dissemination and training activities in contemporary dance.
Along with the implementation of the Teatro Viriato artistic project in 1998, in 2005 the Paulo Ribeiro Company was also responsible for the creation of the Lugar Presente dance school (Viseu) with Artistic Teaching specialized in dance.
With a repertoire of more than 30 productions, Companhia Paulo Ribeiro is one of the most recognized Portuguese contemporary dance companies.
In addition to the main lines of activity, Companhia Paulo Ribeiro has also promoted the edition. In 2005, the book Corpo de Cordas, written by Cláudia Galhós, was launched, a commemorative edition of the Company’s 10 years of existence; and in 2015 it was the turn of Uma Coisa Concreta, a book coordinated by Tiago Bartolomeu Costa, which brings together a set of texts by Isabel Lucas, Luísa Roubaud, Maria de Assis, Mónica Guerreiro and Paula Varanda.
Choreography, artistic direction and sound editing Paulo Ribeiro
Interpretation Ana Jezebel, Ana Moreno, Catarina Keil, Margarida Belo Costa, Pedro Matias, Sara Garcia and Valter Fernandes
Nuno Meira light design
José António Lieutenant Costumes
Organization of scenic objects (scenography) João Mendes Ribeiro
Production Company Paulo Ribeiro
Co-production Centro Cultural de Belém, Centro Cultural Vila Flor, São João National Theater, Teatro Viriato and Cine-Teatro Louletano
Companhia Paulo Ribeiro is a structure financed by the Portuguese Republic – Culture/General Directorate of Arts.