LONDON, UK: British-Brazilian choreographer Jean Abreu presents SOLO FOR TWO
London premiere and a site-responsive performance of new dance work by British-Brazilian choreographer Jean Abreu
Solo for Two
A man and a woman – and a little robot - struggle to find their place in the world
London premiere: Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, 23 & 24 May
Site-responsive performance: World Gallery, Horniman Museum, London, 19 July
In the first new commission for dance in the refurbished Purcell Room on 23 and 24 May, British-Brazilian choreographer Jean Abreu’s new dance work Solo for Two sees him work with acclaimed Belgian dramaturg Guy Cools to explore how his dual identity, formed between different cultures and dance languages, is created by cycles of loss, letting go and new beginnings.
Guy Cools says: “After BLOOD, Solo for Two is a further exploration of Jean Abreu’s personal history as an artist who moves between dance cultures: how there is no fixed origin and how every departure not only implies loss, but is also a new beginning. As a dramaturg, I am happy to support the birth of this new creation as a ‘midwife’.”
Leaving behind the Brazilian heat, the social dances, the cooked beans and the sound of a mother’s voice, a man and a woman, two sides of the same coin, struggle to find their place in the world. This powerfully physical duet is danced by Jean Abreu and Rita Carpenteiro to a new electronic score by Luca Biada and a bittersweet collage of songs and laments, the dancers are inextricably linked in a battle for survival and a new identity. A third performer is a little robot called Macheba who mirrors, observes and interacts with the dancers. A two-headed female character, with a birdy-light as the conscious eye and a projector as the subconscious, Macheba scans the dancers’ memories and projects their feelings.
On 19 July is a site-responsive version of Solo for Two at the Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill which has co-commissioned the work.
Tim Corum, Director, Curatorial and Public Engagement, Horniman Museum and Gardens, said: “Having worked with Jean previously we are delighted to be in collaboration again and co-commissioning his new dance work, Solo for Two. The work is in part influenced by Jean’s relationship with the Horniman, his response to the collections and our new World Gallery. Both Jean’s new work and the new gallery explore the diversity of human experience, personal identity and life journeys. Jean’s durational piece will be performed in the new World Gallery on July 19 and will offer a new and personal layer of meaning for the museum and its collections. It will be a thought provoking and revealing performance.”
The robot Macheba is the creation of technologists Michele Panegrossi, Luca Biada and computer scientist Leon Watts in collaboration with Jean Abreu and Guy Cools. With the use of robotics in Solo for Two, Jean continues to explore the challenges of technology in his work, following BLOOD, his 2013 collaboration with Gilbert & George.
Leon Watts says: “Macheba enters into the process as an agent of renewal; a totem of embodied technology and of personal memory. In one moment, Macheba is an extension of the self, in another a separated identity speaking to the alien otherness of technical systems. This collaboration has been a process of conceiving, designing, choreographing and sharing and demonstrates how a scientist with an analytical mindset, the fluid holistic mindset of an artist, and rapid prototyping by a creative technologist, can all work together to find new understandings of interaction in society."
Solo for Two is co-commissioned by Southbank Centre and Horniman Museum & Gardens, and supported by Arts Council England, University of Bath, Bath Spa University, Swindon Dance and South East Dance. It is produced by Natalie Richardson for Konzept Arts & Ideas.
Solo for Two
Jean Abreu Dance
Approximate run time: 60 mins no interval
Wednesday 23 May at 8pm and Thursday 24 May 2018 at 7.30pm
London SE1 8XX
Box office 020 3879 9555
Thursday 19 July from 6.30pm to 9.30pm
Horniman Museum and Gardens
London SE23 3PQ
Box office: 020 8699 1872
Jean Abreu choreographed his first work in 2003 and later that year received the Jerwood Choreography Award. Since then, his work has toured throughout the UK, Europe and Brazil. Jean has been an Associate Artist at The Place, Swindon Dance, South Hill Park and the Hat Factory and an Artist-in-Residence at Dance East. Jean founded Jean Abreu Dance in 2009 and his first work for the company, INSIDE, with music by 65daysofstatic, received 4 and 5 star reviews at its premiere in the 2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. He subsequently created Parallel Memories in collaboration with Brazilian choreographer Jorge Garcia, which premiered at the 2011 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and toured to Brazil. In 2012 Jean collaborated with director Topher Campbell at The Red Room on a Channel 4 film commission for the Random Acts series curated by the Ballet Boyz. His more recent dance productions include BLOOD, his collaboration with Gilbert & George which premiered in May 2013 and A Thread, with Brazilian visual artist Elisa Bracher in 2016.
Dr. Guy Cools is a world renowned dance dramaturg and academic, who has collaborated with leading choreographers such as Akram Khan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Koen Augustijnen and Danièle Desnoyers. Having previously worked as lecturer, dance critic, artistic programmer and policy maker for dance in Flanders, he is now dedicating himself to production dramaturgy, contributing to work by choreographers across Europe.
Dr. Leon Watts is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Bath. His research in Human-Robot Interaction focuses on the analysis and design of interactive systems. He also addresses communication in his research by considering the potential value of endowing robots with affective status
Macheba, the wheeled robot in Solo for Two is built on Raspberry pi and Arduino boards inside a plexi box and equipped with light, distance sensors, a projector and sound installation.
Solo for Two production credits:
Dramaturge & Collaborator: Guy Cools
Dancers: Jean Abreu and Rita Carpenteiro
Lighting Designer: Andy Hamer
Costume Designer: Abdul Hamid
Music & Sound Design: Luca Biada
Technical Manager & Robot Design: Michele Panegrossi
Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, occupying a 17 acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Southbank Centre is home to the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery as well as The National Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection. www.southbankcentre.co.uk.
The Horniman Museum and Gardens opened in 1901 as a gift to the people in perpetuity from tea trader and philanthropist Frederick John Horniman to ‘bring the world to Forest Hill’. Today the Horniman has a collection of 350,000 objects, specimens and artefacts from around the world. Its galleries include natural history, music and an acclaimed aquarium, with a new World Gallery of anthropology opening on 29 June 2018. Indoor exhibits link to the award-winning display gardens – from medicinal and dye gardens to an interactive sound garden, Butterfly House and an animal walk – set among 16 acres of beautiful, green space offering spectacular views across London. The Horniman Museum and Gardens is core-funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and since 1990 has been governed by an independent charitable trust, registered charity no. 802725. The Horniman Museum and Gardens also receives funding from Arts Council England as one of its National Portfolio Organisations. horniman.ac.uk
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