Within the covid-19 scope, and invited by the theater HAU Hebbel am Ufer, in Germany, Lia Rodrigues Companhia de Danças, from Rio de Janeiro, refined a way of processing the path taken for three decades, amidst a milestone of so many planetary emergencies. The work on the memory and confrontation of the uncertainties of the present time were somehow inventoried in the form of notebooks prepared from audiovisual procedures and disclosed in the Berliner’s space virtual platform last semester. Now, Sesc Dance Biennial presents them in Brazil through the Sesc Digital Platform.
The poetic, political, and artistic universes are prospected in a collage of essays, presentations, inspirations, images, photographs, and testimonies.
In two episodes, the approach of the consequences of the health crisis and leadership mobilization in Complexo da Maré (RJ) stands out, where the company has been hosted since 2004, at the Centro de Artes Maré, in partnership with the organization Redes da Maré. The link is incremented also by the collaboration in artistic-cultural actions at Escola Livre de Dança da Maré.
The favela is home to around 140 thousand inhabitants – larger than 80% of the Brazilian cities. In this territory, social injustices caused the pandemic effects to be even more devastating, reflecting on the company’s every day, as it will be seen.
The other notebooks interact with works from the repertoire, rehearsed in 2019 and scheduled for 2020, for the 30 years of the artistic nucleus – but the entire program was suspended, as we know.
They are: Aquilo de que Somos Feitos [What We Are Made Of], Formas Breves [Brief Forms], Pindorama, Para que o Céu Não Caia [So The Sky Won’t Fall], and Fúria [Fury].
Next, the synopsis for each volume written by the company.
From March 2020 to January 2021, the company remained active with virtual meetings for talks, classes, and readings. We also carried out some dialog experiences with the works from the repertoire we were going to present in 2020.
In Brazil, we are experiencing one of the most terrible times in the country’s recent history. The health crisis caused by covid-19 exposes the precarious circumstances in which most Brazilians live, with deep social inequality and violation of the human rights that mark our country’s past and present. Many lives are under constant threat: the black and indigenous population, trans LGBTQIA+ population, women.
In 2020, there was a very intense performance schedule to celebrate the 30 years of Companhia Lia Rodrigues, but it all had to be canceled. However, the company counted on the solidarity and support from its partners in Europe and Brazil so it could survive throughout the year, besides maintaining the projects Centro de Artes da Maré and Escola Livre de Dança da Maré, developed in partnership with Redes da Maré.
Redes da Maré is a civil society organization that promotes building a sustainable development network targeted at the structural transformation of the Maré favela, one of Rio de Janeiro’s largest. With 140 thousand inhabitants under extremely tough social-economic conditions, it is larger than 80% of the Brazilian cities. It is a vibrant place, with strong activism and self-organization tradition, rich in popular events, artistic productions, and a lively trade. In 2004, Lia Rodrigues moved the dance company activities to Complexo da Maré, where she has been developing artistic and educational projects ever since.
In 2009, the first project resulting from the company’s partnership with Redes da Maré was born. An abandoned shed was the kick-off for the creation of the Centro de Artes da Maré, a place with various cultural and social projects, and that is also the company’s headquarters, where the premieres and seasons of the creations are performed. In 2011, another project was born: Escola Livre de Dança da Maré, combining free dance classes and social-cultural activities to around 300 students of all ages. Besides, a group of 16 young people receives a continued dance education.
Within the covid-19 context, since March 2020, the Centro de Artes da Maré was fully occupied with food, water bottles, hygiene and cleaning products, and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to be donated to 17 thousand families in the region that live under extreme poverty. The initiative was part of the campaign “Maré says NO to the Coronavirus,” of which many students from the Escola Livre de Dança da Maré were volunteers. From the favelas emerge courage, the ability to cooperate, inventive solutions, and hope. This notebook presents images of Centro de Artes da Maré’s construction process, from 2009 to this day, besides Escola Livre de Dança da Maré’s history.
Caderno Aquilo de que Somos Feitos [What We Are Made Of] Notebook
After three years (1994-1997) working with projects related to the Brazilian artist and intellectual, author of Macunaíma, Mario de Andrade, in 1998 the choreographer Lia Rodrigues was invited to create, with her company, a performance for the opening of Lygia Clark’s work retrospective, in Rio de Janeiro.
The 500 years of Brazil’s discovery celebrations joined this experience in 2000. While the government celebrated the Portuguese’s arrival in the country, other voices challenged the discovery’s version within a Eurocentric historical perspective, considering that Brazil was conquered and invaded. This date indicated the start of Portuguese colonization that, like other European colonizations, besides exploring the natural resources, caused historical genocides of the native people.
In the essays, we investigate memory, forms of fight and resistance, words of order, and the different meanings of the word “discover.” The artists researched the naked body and its possibilities for creating phantasmic and unusual figures.
Aquilo de que Somos Feitos [What We Are Made Of} premiered in July 2000 at the Espaço Cultural Sérgio Porto, Rio de Janeiro, with support from Compagnie Maguy Marin, France, through the project Accueil Studio. In these 20 years, the play had already been through countless Brazilian cities and several countries worldwide, being performed to this day.
Formas Breves [Brief Forms] Notebook
In 2002, Lia Rodrigues and the playwright Silvia Soter and the company’s dancers proposed to work in a gathering of two artists: writer Ítalo Calvino and painter and choreographer Oskar Schlemmer, identifying matters that drove points in common, affinities, and dissonances. In common, the discussion of the man and their future, and the investigation behind the artistic work. The Bauhaus movement proposed itself to make the “building of the future,” and Schlemmer was concerned with the relationship between the body with geometry and space. In his book, Six Memos for the Next Millennium, Ítalo Calvino pointed out six indispensable qualities in literature: lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, multiplicity, and consistency. These qualities should guide not only the writers’ activity but each one of the gestures from our existence.
While Schlemmer inspired us with one sentence: “It is very simple: One should be as free of prejudice as possible, one should act as if the world had just been created; one should not analyze a thing to death, but rather let it unfold gradually and without interference.” One should be simple, not poor.”
Formas Breves [Brief Forms] premiered at Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, in Rio de Janeiro, in April 2002.
In 2013, artist Christiane Jatahy invited Lia Rodrigues Companhia de Danças to participate in the project In Drama, around Clarice Lispector’s book, Discovering the World. We chose the work around a word we found in one of these book’s chronicles – “gasp” – and recycled experiences made with scenic material already tested in other creations. This performance happened in April of this same year at Casa França-Brasil, in Rio de Janeiro.
This was the starting point for Pindorama‘s creation research, a Tupi word that means “land of the palm trees” and Brazil’s name before the Portuguese’s arrival.
A piece of transparent plastic, translucid spheres, naked bodies, silence, water, and the verb gasp. Which rituals, sacrifices, and agreements would it take to form a collective, even if temporary? How to approach, even if once, the possibilities of being together, blending in until the dilution? Stating limits and singularities? How to create cycles of death, transformation, life?
Pindorama completed a triptych about relationships between the group and the individual, which started with Pororoca (2009) and continued with Piracema (2010). The premiere happened in November 2013, at the Théâtre Jean Vilar de Vitry-sur-Seine, in France, within the Festival d’Automne de Paris program.
Para que o Céu Não Caia [So The Sky Won’t Fall] Notebook
In 2015, the artists from the company and the students from the continued education center of the Escola Livre de Dança da Maré created an Affective-Cultural-Bodily Questionnaire to be taken with Maré residents from several ages groups. There were more than one hundred interviews with recorded depositions, in which people talked about their lives, dance, art, expectations for the future, dreams, fears, desires.
Within their political and aesthetic dimensions, these individual stories provided work material so that the company’s artists and the school’s students could create a choreography exercise presented at Centro de Artes da Maré in this same year. The action marked the beginning of the research to create the show Para Que o Céu Não Caia [So The Sky Won’t Fall]. The rehearsals lasted nine months at Centro de Artes da Maré, in the hottest time of the year.
The books Há Mundos por Vir? [Are There Worlds to Come?], by Déborah Danowski and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, and A Queda do Céu [The Fall of the Sky], by Davi Kopenawa – based on stories in the Yanomami language collected by ethnologist Bruce Albert – were important sources of inspiration. “There is only one sky, and it must be taken care of because if it gets sick, everything will end.” These are the words from Davi Kopenawa, the Yanomami tribe shaman from the Amazon forest. “If the harmony of life in the universe, the sky breaks, – ‘the thing that is above us’ – collapses over all of us that are below.”
How do we not give up when we are confronted by the forces of the chaos and hunted by disasters and atrocities every day? What is left for us to do? What each of us can do to protect the sky? Let’s combine our inner strength to maintain this sky. Each in our own way. We dance to the rhythm of machines and cars, helicopters, sirens; we dance with rain and storm and blazing sun; we dance as an offering and a tribute so it won’t wither, harden, and rot, we move the air and expand; to dream and visit dark places; we dance so we can become fireflies; to be weak and to resist. We dance to find a way to stay alive and survive in this up-side-down world.
Para Que o Céu Não Caia [So The Sky Won’t Fall] premiered in May 2016 at Hellerau Theather in Dresden, Germany.
Fúria [Fury] Notebook
How to spy the time in a world dominated by an infinity of contrasting images – hideous and beautiful, dark and bright -, pierced by an infinity of unanswered questions and full of contradictions and paradoxes? How to spy the time in a world of fury? How to give visibility and voice to the invisible and silenced?
For the creation of Fúria [Fury], we created a large mural in one of the walls at the Centro de Artes da Maré with images we collected: from Brazil and the world, the present and the past; of joy, pain, violence; horrific and beautiful, dark and bright.
We started our creative process articulating these figures among themselves and creating environments, textures, colors, and choreographic and spatial situations to form a living picture (tableau vivant). We created the scenic elements and the costume design throughout the rehearsals, recycling materials from other performances. The audio landscape was built with a one-minute excerpt, repeated uninterruptedly, of a traditional song from the Kanak, from New Caledonia, a French territory in Oceania.
Brazilian writer Conceição Evaristo was also very important to our creation. Between 2017 and 2018, an exhibit about her life and work occurred at Centro de Artes da Maré, and her writing and testimonies inspired us in our improvisations.
“And when the pain leans against us, while one eye cries, the other one spies the time seeking for a solution” (Conceição Evaristo, 2015).
Fúria [Fury] was created at the Centro de Artes da Maré, Lia Rodrigues Companhia de Danças headquarters, and premiered in November 2018, in partnership with the Festival d’Automne de Paris, at Théâtre National de Chaillot and Le Centquatre theater.
FULL TECHNICAL DATA SHEET
The Notebooks of Creation project was conceived and developed by: Amália Lima, Andrey Silva, Carolina Repetto, Clara Amorim, Felipe Vian, Gabi Gonçalves, Karolline Silva, Larissa Lima, Leonardo Nunes, Lia Rodrigues, Ricardo Xavier and Valentina Fittipaldi
Image editing: David Costa
Music performed and composed by: Zeca Assumpção
A very special thanks to: Ana Godoy, André Boccheti, Alexandre Seabra, Helena Katz, Isabelle Launay, Marina Guzzo, Ricardo Carmona, Sammi Landweer e Silvia Soter, juntamente com a equipa HAU Hebbel am Ufer, em Berlim
Production: Lia Rodrigues Companhia de Danças e Corpo Rastreado
A commission of HAU Hebbel am Ufer