Ambra Vernuccio
© Ambra Vernuccio
Field Projects: 2019

Jean Abreu & Guy Cools


Researching the physical language of laments

featuring Irene Coticchio from the Cowbirds

In this field project Brazilian-British choreographer Jean Abreu and the Viennese based, Belgian dance dramaturg Guy Cools want to deepen their shared research in the physical language of mourning in function of a new creation they are preparing for 2020.

How do we deal with experiences of loss? In most cultures, rituals of mourning were practiced as a way to express grief and its emotions, such as sadness, but also anger. We have to perform our mourning in order for these emotions to liquefy and to restore the energy flow in the body. One of the most powerful ways to do this, are forms of lamenting, that existed in most cultures, but were threatened with disappearance in the 20th century. The last decades both scholars and artists have been reinvesting in these traditional forms, such as the Greek moiroloi or the Irish keening, in order to revive them and articulate them within a contemporary practice.

The traditional laments dialogue with those who are absent (not only through death, but also for instance because they emigrated). They use a polyphonic structure, alternating between language and non-language (stylized forms of crying and sobbing). And they were often accompanied with ritualized movements.

Already in their previous collaboration, Solo for Two, Jean Abreu and Guy Cools researched part of these traditions. They will now expand their research in function of a new trio. They will research how:

• To use polyphony and polyphonic music as a structural element for a choreographic exploration. This aspect will also involve voice work, possibly learning some of the songs.

• To look at the repetitive and cyclical aspect of the lamentations songs as an embodiment of loss, exploring the relentless wave-like sensations.

• To develop a physical language that expresses this relentlessness of grief, in order to find ways of letting go: researching not only the ‘fall’, but also the ‘re-bounce’.

• To explore the power of being vulnerable and embodying one’s emotions, which is mainly a female power.

• The latter has also a political dimension, since the traditional laments were often not only a way to express and eventually let go of pain, but often also became a protest against patriarchy.

For the field project, we invite professional dancers and singers who would like to research with us how to voice and physicalize the language of laments in a present-day context.

Jean and Guy will be joined by Irene Coticchio from the Cowbirds who will teach every day a class in a polyphonic singing.

Irene Coticchio

Sicily born Irene Coticchio is performer, actress, singer and linguist. She’s been working in several productions, cooperating with internationally renowned artists (i.e. Robert Wilson, Andrew De. L Harwood, Daria De Florian, Walter Manfrè) and creating her own pieces. She’s got an eclectic education and interests and she’s interested in formats with cross over of disciplines, genres and styles. Since 1996 she’s been leaving and working in Vienna. 2001-2017 she’s been part of the performance group Toxic Dreams. Since 2006 she’s been dedicating herself to researching Sicilian and South Italian traditional music and in 2008 created her own music ensemble Irene Coticchio Trio/Continente Liquido with which she’s performing regularly. She is member of Cowbirds, a collective researching and performing monodic and polyphonic songs from Corsica and Sicily.

Lately she’s been collaborating with the musician Dimitris Kontouras (GR) and the composer Periklis Liakakis (GR/A). Irene is teaching extensively voice practice for singers, actors and dancers in several institutions. Recently she’s been lecturing on South Italian traditional music i.e. at the Institute for Romance Studies at the University of Vienna. 

ArtistBio: Jean Abreu
ArtistBio: Guy Cools


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