When Portugal had its revolution to democracy, I also had my revolution as a 17-year-old girl, and I went to study contemporary dancing in London, graduating in Dance Composition. I quickly came to understand how strongly the dance world was connected to society, cities and neighbourhoods, I was very interested in the communication that the arts could have in the tissue of social reality. Dance is always present and connected in my work: it can teach many things without saying a word just by performing, this is what dance is really about. It is not just a set of steps, good jumps and the movement of beautiful bodies, it can have an action and a dimension of construction of social development and society itself. Thus we can approach a neighbourhood in a village, city, or region and work with that land and reality from an artistic point of view, with the aim of opening minds and changing mentalities, becoming more tolerant and introducing a different way of thinking that considers not solely the more obvious Cartesian logic.
I used to come to Carrapateira for holidays with my family and we loved being there. In this region there is a very beautiful vibrant energy and the landscape is fantastic, we find it a very mysterious place. After a while we decided to buy a house here, to change our base from Lisbon to Aljezur, to start a project in this region and to spread out from here to other places. This is the second year of our artistic program, Lavrar O Mar, which means to farm the sea, it is a reality we can find here: people connect and bridge the sea culture with the land culture, two worlds that are apparently very separate, but in this region they are not, because when you can fish, you go to the sea and when you can’t, because the sea is rough, you can go into the land. I think life is most exciting when it forces us to take action and build something for ourselves and for others. The art can be a source of wisdom that can intervene and be part of many other subjects, like farming and fishing. These are all strong physical movements and activities that have a function on their own, but there is a world behind that is another dimension, and that is the one which we call upon into the artistic reality. I believe that one performance can change the life of a person, and I’ve seen it happen. It takes a long time to win over the local people, it needs persistence, belief, generosity and a lot of work, but we choose every performance consciously regarding what these people can connect to.
Rota Vicentina has found a fantastic way to approach this territory, as we do but in a completely different way, in different languages with different aims. But there is a common thread which is to worship and celebrate this land through nature, tourism and performing arts, culture. Now we bridge our activity in TOUROAZUL, which is a project we are developing together, and we are very happy with this connection with Rota. It is starting now, and it is a series of 16 journeys, we can call them ‘sensitive human experiences’: tracks that people can make into the territory to get in touch with the local reality through human contact and intimacy, to see things which otherwise they wouldn’t see and meet.
When I was a kid I wanted to be a nun, because I loved their gowns and they were always smiling on the tram. I wanted to be beautiful as they were and it really made me want to be a woman like them, this may reflect my attraction to choreographing and creating dances. I was and am still a very physical person, loving to use the body and living through the body. When I don’t work, I work. I am always dreaming, thinking, I wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning because there was this idea that was not finished the day before. I am doing several projects at the same time, besides Lavrar o Mar; I also have a project at the moment in Australia, creating a piece for a hospital in the frame of introducing art in medical science. We are trying to show that art can be curative nature inside of the hospital environment and we can make a change in life quality, well-being and perspective of a disease with the help of the artistic experience. At the same time I am also creating an intercultural festival in Lisbon, called Festival todos, TODOS – Caminhada de Culturas. To be distant means that I am in another project: when I am in Australia, I can see Lavrar o Mar and Todos in perspective, so my whole life. With my husband we are moving all the time, not retreating and resting now, we will do that later on. We will stop working when we find we are not good anymore. But we want to take the most out of life, because we believe it is a beautiful gift.
The photos were taken in Lavrar o Mar HQ.