Dancer – Researcher – Performer: A Learning Process

by Graziela Rodrigues (Author)
©2016 Monographs 224 Pages


The author presents the method of research and creation in dance and theater in Brazil, called Bailarino-Pesquisador-Intérprete (Dancer-Researcher-Performer, BPI), which was created by the author herself. Through field research of ritual and Brazilian popular manifestations the author formulates a proposal for body work. She analyzes dance as an activity in which several bodies are integrated to generate knowledge in the sensitive, the perceptible and human relationships from direct contact with the surrounding reality. BPI aims to build a flexible and individualized body, in which the subject has room to develop. It emphasizes the need for a more responsible contact with certain Brazilian cultural segments so that stereotypes of a dance based on an ethnocentric view are not reinforced.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Acknowledgments
  • Preface
  • Crystals in the Mirror
  • Table of Contents
  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Some Important Questions
  • 3 Which Brazilian Body is Talked About: The Source, the School, the Reference
  • 4 Physical Structure
  • 4.1 Symbolic anatomy
  • 4.2 The movement of the parts
  • 4.2.1 Lower parts – the roots of the mast
  • Feet
  • Knees
  • Pelvis
  • 4.2.2 Upper parts – the movement of the flag
  • Torso
  • Hands
  • Head
  • 5 Passages of Sensitivity – The Inner Movement
  • 6 Features of the Form
  • 6.1 Essential factors of the forms
  • 6.1.1 The senses in the body
  • 6.1.2 Pulse
  • 6.1.3 Acts of punctuating, impelling, and flowing
  • 6.2 Specific dynamics
  • 6.2.1 Ginga
  • 6.2.2 Incorporation/Disincorporation
  • 7 Confluent Elements
  • 7.1 Playing Singing: Pronunciations of the body
  • 7.2 The act of investing
  • 7.3 Buildings of space-time
  • 7.3.1 Landscape and scenarios
  • 7.3.2 Choreographic ramifications
  • 8 Looking Through the Crack
  • 8.1 The worked body
  • 8.2 The “devil” and the saint
  • 8.3 In the Gira of Pomba-Gira – The dance of Maria Padilha
  • 9 The Learning Process of the Dancer-Researcher-Performer
  • 9.1 The speech of dancers concerning the process
  • 10 Conclusion
  • 11 Addendum
  • 12 Bibliographical Reference

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1 Introduction

The process of conceiving the dancer-researcher-performer was organized from two interrelated stages. In the first stage, I experienced a crisis in relation to my knowledge about dance, including my experience with the classical, modern, and contemporary dance as well as techniques related to the dynamics of the body and the theatrical performance.

This crisis did not mean a rejection of my previous knowledge; it meant a reinterpretation, drawing on the interaction between my personal findings and the knowledge acquired in the field research about Brazilian cultural manifestations. Beginning with the field research with the candanga women1 from Brasília – after the interaction between my personal findings and the universe of the investigated reality – I initiated the formulation of the body form of the dancer-researcher-performer. The final outcome of this stage was the creation of several dance performances, such as Graça Bailarina de Jesus (Grace, Ballerina of Jesus) and Coração Vermelho I and II (Red Heart I and II).

During the second stage of the Dancer-researcher-performer training process I developed the following script (for more, refer to chapter 9):

self-questioning of the dancer concerning his/her relationship with his/her body and the dance itself;

the implementation of initial experiences gained in the laboratory with Brazilian cultural manifestations;

direct contact of the dancer with the sources in the field research;

the dancer returns to the laboratory to articulate his/her creative work.

It is important to note that the stages mentioned above may be inconsistent with other stages resulting from the demands of each dancer. The Process is subject to the addition of other stages after the elaboration of the creative work to the extent that it leads to the constitution of a living, flexible, individualized body opened to different dance creations. The references to my personal history are due to the fact that the Process of the dancer-researcher-performer was developed in my own body. ← 21 | 22 →

My dance training was marked by rigorous discipline. During the time when I have followed every step of the formality of ballet (starting from 1967), there have been an ongoing tempest inside my body; the questions that have been arising were far beyond what the body could express, jump, or twist. Through this time there have been a number of sensations and feelings impossible to fit in the body I have been constructing. After all, what was my body? What was the other’s body established to be my model?

This search had no borders: in dance, theater or my work as a dancer and choreographer. I wanted to believe that the answers could be found in the different techniques and forms. The questions I could not answer were grouped in a single one: Am I a performer?2 The route indicated that I had to look for an inner answer.

The professional experiences in Europe (1977/1978) indicated an important question about the relation of the culture of a country with its artistic creation. In Israel, dance had an important role of unifying identities. In Spain, during a period when artists from different nationalities converged, cultural differences were evident among a unifying desire within the arts. My adherence to these movements and the invitation to continue working in these countries made me even more uneasy in relation to the questioning of my own cultural identity.

Due to the inner feelings that have been increasingly driving my body towards the construction of my own story, I decided to come back to Brazil, specifically to Brasília, in order to develop a project with other professionals.3 After having finished this collective project, whose importance lied in the exchange of experiences based on equality of relationships, I was in need of new personal resolutions.

My senses realized that a new process was under development. I felt under huge pressure caused by what I had experienced until then. A vital necessity urged me to put my effective answer as a performer through my pace. After several twists and turns, endowed with technical and expressive skills, what would this body (my body) organically establish in the artistic creation? At that moment, I had quit everything I had built until then in order to find the answer. Searching for a character was an alternative, but the search through the texts was in vain; everything seemed to be so distant from my own reality and the desire to find myself. This conjuncture convinced me that the character was alive on the streets, pushing me into researching the candanga women. ← 22 | 23 →

The power of that moment and my intuitive conviction pointed to an immediate implementation of the research; there was no reason to systematize a project and no time to seek funding. That moment required a full commitment to live that experience with freedom of action. The following procedure was found to be coherent: The “constructed” dancer would be “deconstructed”, as she interacted with the universe of the research. Therefore, the observation of the facts required accuracy, without any type of interpretation. Field experience and writing diaries were the only activities performed without previous establishment of duration. The geographical proximity determined the choice for the candanga women, as I needed to find a “flesh and blood” character.

The field research: during the urban bus journeys from Plano Piloto station (Brasília) to the satellite cities I found a huge number of women. I kept observing them, without any comments or interpretation, opening my senses with absolute concentration and neutrality. During the several bus trips, I identified that most of these women were housemaids. In Plano Piloto I followed one of them and I found out that she was heading to an employment agency for housemaids. I started to attend that agency, trying to remain as anonymous as possible.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2017 (May)
Brazilian Dance Corporal Identity Dance Performance Anthropology of Dance Sociology of Art
Frankfurt am Main, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2016. 224 pp., 157 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Graziela Rodrigues (Author)

Graziela Rodrigues is Full Professor of the Department of Dance at the Art Institute of the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil. She works as a dancer, choreographer, actress, director, and psychologist and received a PhD in Arts (UNICAMP).


Title: Dancer – Researcher – Performer: A Learning Process