Intensified Bodies from the Performing Arts in Portugal

by Gustavo Vicente (Volume editor)
Edited Collection XXVI, 278 Pages


The way the body is considered and explored in the performing arts has assumed a growing importance, introducing new questions and cross-cutting perspectives on our understanding of the political, sociological and philosophical relevance of the body today.
This book is a meeting point for these questions, bringing together a set of contributors experienced in examining the body’s presence in live performances. It interweaves several disciplinary outlooks, addressing current theoretical debates on the body relating to the theory of affects, ethics, gender, age, discourse and representation.
Looking at recent practice in Portugal, the volume examines several cases where the body and issues of corporeality raise questions of memory, identity, experience and existence. It opens a rare window onto the distinctive Portuguese post-colonial legacy, which has given rise to an intensified search for new forms of bodily affirmation in the world. In so doing, the book conjures up the transformative power of performing arts today: from body into Being.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Figures
  • Acknowledgements
  • Foreword (José Gil)
  • Bibliography
  • Introduction: The urge to embody the world (Gustavo Vicente)
  • On the body’s multiplicity
  • The post-colonial legacy: From censorship to the ‘intensification’ of bodies
  • Written intensities
  • Bibliography
  • Part I: On perception, experience and discourse
  • 1 Affective rhythms in Until the Moment When God is Destroyed by the Extreme Exercise of Beauty by Vera Mantero (Ana Pais)
  • From effects to affect
  • Why affect? Why Affect Theory?
  • Models of affect circulation
  • Aaaaare weeeee reeeeaaadyyyy for opening up to commotion?
  • Double bind: Enchantment and estrangement
  • Commotion: A performative movement of affect
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • 2 New notes towards a supreme fiction: Experience, experimentation and the Body for Life (Fernando Machado Silva)
  • Let’s make a new Body
  • Where does your subjectivity lie? (On the notion of syngram)
  • You do not really own experience (for a new understanding of experience)
  • The prudent catastrophe of the body: On the experimentation as asceticism
  • On the way to haecceity
  • Let’s call it a night: Conclusion with some notes regarding the work of AND_Lab
  • Bibliography
  • 3 Body and discourse: Incalculable choreographies (Né Barros)
  • Performativity as a space of abandonment
  • Poetics of the stranger
  • The nude, stage of all sexes
  • Towards a conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • 4 Body, performance, language and tradition: The example of Pina Bausch and Clara Andermatt’s Fica no Singelo (Gonçalo M. Tavares)
  • Part I: Movement and language, and Pina Bausch’s example
  • Dance as a Dionysian element
  • Weight and lightness
  • Walking and dancing
  • Spontaneous and surprising
  • The grace of dance
  • Preparing the dance
  • Dance and thought
  • Movement of the thought
  • Thought, movement and language
  • Pina Bausch’s method
  • Alienation
  • Provocation
  • Part II: The simple, the old and the new – and even: the last of the movements – on Fica no Singelo by Clara Andermatt
  • Fica no Singelo by Clara Andermatt as a contemporary dance memory and a new invention of traditional dance. And vice versa
  • Some notes on dance
  • Fica no Singelo by Clara Andermatt: Disturbing perfection, interfering in the ground, remembering fragility
  • Some notes on the old and the new (on tradition and contemporaneity)
  • Fica no Singelo by Clara Andermatt: Artistically rescuing and sabotaging the Museum of Traditional Movements
  • To finish: on the oldest, most current and also most threatening movement
  • Bibliography
  • Part II: On memory, identity and representation
  • 5 The body in descent: Catastrophes, feelings and choreographies in the Portuguese landscape (Daniel Tércio)
  • Organizing the fall
  • Towards a history of the fall in dance
  • Falling in Portuguese: Between accident and catastrophe
  • Hovering before the fall
  • Bibliography
  • 6 Creating and performing in Companhia Maior: Memories of life, experiences of continuity and transformation (Maria José Fazenda)
  • The beginning of the Companhia and the poetics of memory
  • Companhia Maior in the current performative scene
  • New bodies on stage: Context, ideas and practices
  • Experiences of continuity and transformation
  • Bibliography
  • 7 Self-representation as a performative act of the body: Absence-presence disruptions and aporias in the works of Helena Almeida and Jorge Molder (Anabela Pereira)
  • Introduction
  • Performance, photography, embodiment: A sociological perspective
  • The paradox of immediacy (versus mediation)
  • Methodological considerations
  • Findings and discussion
  • The body inhabited by the work: Voar (2001)
  • Performing the inevitable nature of the double: Anatomy and Boxing (1997)
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • 8 Looking for the expressive body through images: The infinite struggle against insignificance (Maria João Brilhante)
  • Images, bodies and performing arts: An antechamber to approach the expressive power of the images of actors’ bodies
  • The image and some questions it raises
  • Performing bodies
  • Forms of the expressive body in four photographic images
  • The Body, an object among objects
  • Near and far: The historical density of a face
  • Bodies and masks
  • The movement of bodies
  • Bibliography
  • Notes on contributors
  • Index of Names

| vii →


Figure 1.1: Until the Moment When God is Destroyed by the Extreme Exercise of Beauty by Vera Mantero (2007 | Photograph by Alain Monot).

Figure 2.1: Participants playing the AND Game (or ‘Question game’), by João Fiadeiro and Fernanda Eugénio, in Universidad de Chile (2013 RE.AL | Photograph by Joao Fiadeiro).

Figure 3.1: Estrangeiros by Né Barros (2012 | Photograph by Luís Ferraz).

Figure 3.2: Pântano by Miguel Moreira (2015 Utero | Photograph by Paulo Pimenta).

Figure 3.3: Until the End by Flávio Rodrigues (2010 | Photograph by Tiago Oliveira).

Figure 3.4: Aprés le Bain by Mariana Tengner Barros (2011 | Photograph by Christoph Mueller).

Figure 4.1: Fica no Singelo by Clara Andermatt (2014 ACCCA | Photograph by Inês d’Orey).

Figure 5.1: Blessed by Meg Stuart (2007 Damaged Goods & EIRA | Photograph by Chris Van der Burght).

Figure 5.2: Terra by Olga Roriz (2014 Companhia Olga Roriz | Photograph by Susana Paiva).

Figure 5.3: The Old King by Miguel Moreira and Romeu Runa (2011 Útero | Photograph by Helena Gonçalves).

Figure 5.4: Fall by Victor Hugo Pontes (2014 | Photograph by Jose Caldeira).

Figure 5.5: Eating your heart out by Rui Chafes and Vera Mantero (2004 | Photograph by Alcino Gonçalves). ← vii | viii →

Figure 6.1: Bela Adormecida by Tiago Rodrigues (2010 Companhia Maior | Photograph by Cláudia Varejão).

Figure 6.2: Estalo Novo by Ana Borralho e João Galante (2013 Companhia Maior | Photograph by Bruno Simão).

Figure 6.3: Maior by Clara Andermatt (2011 Companhia Maior | Photograph by Bruno Simão).

Figure 7.1–7.4: Voar by Helena Almeida (2001).

Figure 8.1: A Farsa by Luís Castro (2014 Karnart/TNDM II | Photograph by Filipe Ferreira).

Figure 8.2: Jardim Zoológico de Vidro by Jorge Silva Melo (2016 Artistas Unidos | Photograph by Jorge Gonçalves).

Figure 8.3: A missão: recordações de uma revolução by Mónica Calle (2011 Casa Conveniente | Photograph by Bruno Simão).

Figure 8.4: Camila Morello’s presentation (2015 F. O. R. Dance Theatre | Photograph by Susana Paiva).

| ix →


On 12 May 2014, Maria João Brilhante and I organized the conference ‘Corpo presente: novos discursos sobre o corpo nas artes performativas em Portugal’ [Present body: New discourses on the body in the performing arts in Portugal] at the School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon. This gathering, supported by the Centro de Estudos de Teatro [Centre of Theatre Studies], opened with a keynote speech by Helen Thomas (University of the Arts, London) and brought together artists and researchers from a wide range of academic disciplines (from artistic studies, sociology and anthropology to philosophy).1 It was on the basis of this interdisciplinary dialogue, to which the audience (also drawn from the worlds of artistic creation and critical reception) made a highly significant contribution, that the ‘body’ was taken up as primary subject matter for reflection on the performing arts. Whether based more on the logic of bodily representation, or on the presential forces that the body establishes live with the audience, the discourse explored recent practice in Portuguese performing arts in various ways; showing how questions about the body and corporeality are indispensable navigational guides for the mapping of the contemporary scene. The end of the conference brought about a new beginning, as those present shared the need to continue the discussions started there and the feeling of urgency in outlining the reality of Portuguese practice. This was especially concerning work that sprang from the Revolution of 25 April 1974 – a turning point in the recent history of the country, and key to the formation of the various dynamics making up Portuguese contemporaneity.

This book grew out of and is a direct consequence of the creative beat emerging from that meeting. The structure of the programme and the multiple and transversal character of the discussions were the basis for the book’s ← ix | x → original motivation and development. This is why it includes papers from the majority of the invited conference speakers, who have agreed to give greater body to the issues previously presented, and to direct their writing at a wider audience interested in knowing the reality of Portuguese practice in the light of its international context. It is to these authors (Anabela Pereira, Daniel Tércio, Fernando Machado Silva, Maria João Brilhante, Maria José Fazenda and Né Barros) that I wish to address my initial thanks. I would also like to add my gratitude to Ana Pais and Gonçalo M. Tavares, not only for having agreed to join a work-in-progress, but also for having significantly enriched the volume. Intensified Bodies from the Performing Arts in Portugal has been inspired by the challenging research of these authors, and is the result of their talent, efforts and patience. It belongs directly to all of them.

As regards content, I would like to publicly express my particular gratitude to Professor José Gil, for having recognized the merit of this volume and in doing us the honour of writing its foreword. His reflections on the body and corporeality have long been fundamental in the panorama of contemporary international thought, and are even more crucial when related to historical and cultural Portuguese heritage. This is more than evidenced by his introductory text, which is written with the acuity and clarity of reasoning to which he has long accustomed us. The best compliment I can pay him is by unequivocally stating that I find it impossible to imagine this book without his text.

I would also like to give a word of appreciation to Mick Greer for his rare sensibility in guiding us through the most demanding twists and turns of translation and revision, as well as his infectiously positive attitude towards all the potential pitfalls of the publication process. He took on a Herculean task and rose to the challenge.

Various institutions have also played major roles. I must begin by thanking the Foundation for Science and Technology (Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education) for granting me a postdoctoral fellowship (which ended in August 2016). This allowed me to develop my research and, in the follow-up, organize the event described above and begin the work of preparing the book. The financial support provided by the Board of the School of Arts and Humanities of the University of ← x | xi → Lisbon was similarly fundamental, covering a significant amount of the publishing expenses, and a sign that the project was recognized as a worthy way to disseminate the work of this faculty. Still thinking in institutional terms, I must highlight my gratitude to the Centro de Estudos de Teatro and all its members who, at one time or another, have been so generous in collaborating and making it possible to develop this project. The centre is unique: a place where excellence in research and creativity has created strong bonds of affection and inspiration. It has become a second home to me and it is with enormous pride that I fly its flag.

So many people have contributed so much in so many ways to this volume. Some have worked directly on it – in, for example, the scientific revision of the texts – while others have collaborated more indirectly – for instance, by making resources, documentation and editorial authorization available. It is difficult to produce a book without such a network, and this is what guarantees a high level of quality. Here, I must personally thank Rui Pina Coelho, Teresa Fradique, Paulo Filipe Monteiro, Francesca Rayner, Fernando Matos Oliveira, Luca Aprea, Helen Thomas, Miguel Vale de Almeida, Philipa Rothfield, João Fiadeiro, Vera Mantero, Helena Almeida, Clara Andermatt, Mónica Calle, Luís Castro, Miguel Moreira, Mariana Tengner Barros, Luísa Taveira, Tiago Rodrigues, Sílvia Pinto Coelho, Elisabete Marques, Sophie Coquelin, José Caldeira, Alain Monot, Christoph Mueller, Flávio Rodrigues, Luís Ferraz, Paulo Pimenta, Tiago Oliveira, Filipe Ferreira, Jorge Gonçalves, Bruno Simão, Susana Paiva, Inês d’Orey, Chris Van der Burght, Helena Gonçalves, Alcino Gonçalves, Claúdia Varejão, André Lepecki, as well as the organizations Rumo do Fumo, Companhia Maior and Balleteatro.

My final words of thanks are to Maria João Brilhante. I am deeply grateful not only for the confidence she has unfailingly placed in my work, but also for her invaluable help in producing this book. Without her experience, knowledge and vision, the ideas for this project would have never been embodied.

Gustavo Vicente
Lisbon, 2 April 2017

1 For more information, see <http://corpopresente.wixsite.com/>.

| xiii →



Intensified Bodies. How do you intensify a body? What kind of energy flows inside an intensified body? How is it different from the energy that moves trivial bodies? Do dance, theatre and performance art imply different types of intensification? Can it be assumed that each artist has their own way of intensifying bodies, or is there a general formula to do so? And does every encounter with an audience also produce its own kind of intensification? All these questions, and so many others they raise, fall within the scope of the texts in this book, receiving explicit or implicit answers.


XXVI, 278
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2017 (November)
Contemporary Performing Arts Performing Arts Practice in Portugal Body and corporeality
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2017. XXVI, 278 pp., 13 coloured ill., 10 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Gustavo Vicente (Volume editor)

Gustavo Vicente is a scholar, performer and artistic director. He is Visiting Assistant Professor in the School of Arts and Humanities at the University of Lisbon and a researcher at the Centro de Estudos de Teatro [Centre for Theatre Studies]. Current co-convener of the Choreography and Corporeality Working Group of the International Federation for Theatre Research, he is also a member of the editorial board of Sinais de Cena: Performing Arts and Theatre Studies Journal. He began his career as an actor in 2001, gaining wide experience both in theatre and cinema, before going on to win first prize at the Portuguese Academic Theatre Festival with his first project as an artistic director, in 2009.


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