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Solo For Two © Ambra Vernuccio
© Julian Cole
© Koen Broos Eastman
© Michael Reinhart
© Michael Reinhart


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. 


Born in Brazil, Jean Abreu (choreographer/dancer) moved to London in 1996 after receiving a scholarship to study at Trinity Laban Conservatoire for music and dance, he choreographed his first work in 2003, "Hibrido" and was honoured with the Jerwood Choreography Award the same year as well as becoming an Associate artist at The Place Theatre in London. Since then, his work has toured throughout the UK, Europe and Brazil including performances for Julidans festival, Dance Umbrella, Southbank Centre & the Auditorio Ibirapuera São Paulo. He founded Jean Abreu Dance in 2009 and his first work for the company, "INSIDE" with music played live by glitch rock band 65daysofstatic premiered at Edinburgh festival in 2010 to rave reviews. He created the first of a trilogy of solo project "BLOOD" (2013), in collaboration with British visual artists Gilbert and George and co-commissioned by the Royal Opera House London. In 2015 he created "A Thread", an international collaboration with renowned Brazilian visual artist and sculptor Elisa Bracher bringing together dance artists from China, UK and Brazil partly supported by Itau Cultural Foundation (BR), South Bank Centre and Arts Council of England. His most recent creation "Solo for Two" (2018), the second of the trilogy of solos exploring his in between cultural identity, is a collaboration with Belgium dance dramaturg Guy Cools supported by Arts Council England, co-commissioned by Southbank Centre and the Horniman Museum. "Solo for Two" is currently on tour in the UK and will be performed in Brazil, China and Portugal in 2019.

Jean has taught extensively his movement practice in the UK and abroad in renowned dance organisations and universities including London Contemporary Dance School, London Studio Centre, Dance Base (Scotland), International Festival of Morelos (Mexico) Roger Williams University (USA) New York University (USA), Balance Arts Centre (China). He is currently a regular guest artist at Bath Spa University, Portsmouth University, University of Bath, Greenwich Dance and Beijing Dance Academy.


Guy Cools is a dance dramaturg. Recent positions include Associate Research Professor at the research institute Arts in Society of the Fontys School of Fine and Performing Arts in Tilburg, and Postdoctoral Researcher at Ghent University, where he finished a practice-based PhD on the relationship between dance and writing. He has worked as a dance critic, artistic programmer, and policymaker for dance in Flanders. He now dedicates himself to production dramaturgy, contributing to work by choreographers all over Europe and Canada such as: Koen Augustijnen (BE), Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (BE), Danièle Desnoyers (CA), Lia Haraki (CY), Christopher House (CA), Akram Khan (UK), Arno Schuitemaker (NL), and Stephanie Thiersch (DE). He regularly lectures and publishes, and has developed a series of workshops that aim to support artists and choreographers in their creative process. His most recent publications include The Ethics of Art: ecological turns in the performing arts, co-edited with Pascal Gielen (Valiz, 2014); In-between Dance Cultures: on the migratory artistic identity of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Akram Khan (Valiz, 2015) and Imaginative Bodies, dialogues in performance practices (Valiz, 2016), a series of published, live interviews with major contemporary artists which Cools curated from 2008 till 2013 for Sadler’s Wells, London. With the Canadian choreographer, Lin Snelling, he developed an improvised performance practice ‘Rewriting Distance’ that focuses on the integration of movement, voice, and writing. Cools lives in Vienna.


© Karolina Miernik

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