'Perhaps she could dance first and think afterwards' is a solo premiered in 1991, created for the Europalia Festival in Belgium (that year dedicated to Portugal and which included a wide Portuguese choreographic representation).
This solo has a prime place on Vera Mantero's choreographic course. It is a work that spans almost two decades and is, singularly, still alive and be presented. Why?
It was with this solo that the author found part of her identity in terms of movement, in terms of how to be on stage, in terms of tools and elements that she uses to create and perform: a body that doesn't neglect gestures, the hands, the face, the expressions, that includes them because she knows that these elements are absolutely part of the body-person; which constantly tries to grasp what is going through her, trying to expose exactly this through the responses of a vibratil body; a body that dashes against time-cadence and plays with it/them like a child plays with marbles; a body which sometimes produces an almost-talking, in sounds that seem wanting to take the shape of words, on lips that articulate inaudible words.
Why did this happen to this body?
Mantero wrote on the evening program by that time: 'My relationship with dance revolves around the following questions: what does dance say? What can I say with dance? What am I saying when I'm dancing? '. The ability and inability of dance to SAY, were in the center of the author's creative preoccupations at the time (... aren't they still?). The strategy of inclusion (in the actions, movements, impulses) of other materials, which are not the commonly used ones for dance, were the means and the research that the author undertook to force-push-pressure the dance to SAY.
This piece also has another particularity: it has always been and is until today an improvised piece and it was precisely for being improvised that allowed it to be a piece. It is the result of creative impossibilities and difficulties: before being a solo it was an unsuccessful attempt of being a quartet and before being an improvisation, it was an unsuccessful attempt of a choreographed solo. Facing all these difficulties the author '... didn't want to do this piece. Fortunately there was someone (Bruno Verbergt from the Klapstuk festival) that gave me a stage at my disposal and told me to do on it exactly what I needed to do. That's what I did. ' Improvisation allowed her details, velocity and freedom that a choreographed dance would never allow. The meeting with 'Ruby, My Dear' by Thelonious Monk, in the version used in this piece, was a very important support, which facilitated the movement to this body in difficulties. In such a way that it has been (and is) necessary to repeat three times the audition along the piece. And the phrase of Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot', which gives the title to this solo, explains even more a part of these difficulties by proposing that she dances first and thinks afterwards; in the original evening program can be read: '... to be methodical one must believe and I have a problem of lack of belief. Art, creation, are the things that interest me most in life, but it seems that every time I put myself doing anything in this field, I stop to believe in them immediately. And then I finish up to stop believing in life itself and in other things out there'...
As mentioned already above, a somewhat rare and curious phenomenon happened to this solo: its presentation has never been interrupted, it has been shown regularly over the last nineteen years. And if the actual lack of belief began to produce a solo somewhat distressed and suffered, this continuous and repeated presentation transformed the work and moved it from this area of pain and anguish to an area far more luminous, of humour and enjoy, whilst leaving intact its structures and foundations.
O Rumo do Fumo
24 February 2017, Nova\Velha Dança cycle/Associação Parasita, Teatro Sá da Bandeira, Santarém/Portugal
Perhaps she could dance first and think afterwards de Vera Mantero
MUDAS. Museum of Contemporary Art, Madeira Island, Portugal
in the framework of MUDAS.HOTsummer