After touring the country, Jean Abreu’s A Thread comes to the Southbank Centre for one late night performance only.
Inspired by sculptor Elisa Bracher’s vast installation piece The Endless Still Point, which he saw at the museum of modern art in Rio, Jerwood Award-winning choreographer Jean Abreu has been working with the artist to meld her weighty metal and wire structures with his own contemporary dance theatre ideas of balance and tension within the body and mind. Capturing the essence of Elisa Bracher’s gravity defying sculptures, the five dancers engage with the materials – trolleys, weights, cables, sheets of lead and one huge leaden ball – which become the building stones of the piece, a labyrinth that they create for themselves and then have to navigate. Jean Abreu’s new choreography is a highly physical, geometric performance which juxtaposes abstract notions with myths and stories.
Elisa Bracher said, “This has been a fascinating collaboration because it has helped me to rescue a connection with movement and my own body that I thought I had lost, and I think it is an interesting project for the public because it deals with a universal question of weight and balance, a weight that we all carry in life and a centre of balance that we are continuously looking for.”
Jean Abreu said, “When I first saw Elisa’s work it triggered a series of images in my head about the timeless quest for balance, and I was curious how I could transform the abstract nature of Elisa’s sculptures into these images which I sought in the form of Greek mythological stories like Sisyphus who carries the weight of a rock up the hill, or Theseus who follows a thread to find his way out of a labyrinth. I also became curious about how much physicality is involved in the making of a sculpture. In Elisa’s work, this physicality is intense, brutal and at the same time poetic and fragile. I was fascinated how I could transfer this process into choreography. I had the desire to translate the sculpture into a dance; to create a dialogue between bodies and materials.
“A Thread is a line, a line of enquiry, the more you follow the more you find. It’s like a game; you never know what the next stage will be.”
Jean Abreu first came to the UK in 1996 after receiving a scholarship to study at Trinity Laban conservatoire for Music and Dance and has been living in London ever since. He choreographed his first work in 2003 and has since toured throughout the UK, including London’s Dance Umbrella Festival, Southbank Centre and Royal Opera House as well as internationally. Winner of the prestigious Jerwood Choreography Award (2003), Jean has been an Associate Artist at the Hat Factory and The Place and Artist-in-Residence at Dance East. His other works include Parallel Memories in collaboration with Brazilian choreographer Jorge Garcia, and BLOOD with Gilbert & George.
Elisa Bracher is an award winning artist known for her large sculptures, displayed in variety of public spaces in Brazil and internationally. She is engaged in artistic work that extends into four different media – drawing, printmaking, sculpture and photography. In 1998, CosacNaify published the book Madeira sobre Madeira, with text by Rodrigo Naves, about her artwork. She is also the founder and director of Instituo Acaia, which gives opportunities to people aged 4 – 18 to take part in a wide variety of creative activities and workshops.
To research the piece, Jean and Elisa travelled to China to consult with Martial Arts practitioners and contemporary dancers, and to explore the ancient Chinese philosophy of balance, Yin and Yang.
Excerpts of the show were recently performed at the Horniman Museum in London as Labirinto, a promenade performance through the galleries as part of a specially commissioned evening of work for their Brazil in Focus season.