ONLINE: João Fiadeiro on Real Time Composition

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João Fiadeiro gave an open lecture on Real Time Composition. On Mon 3rd Oct, 2016.

His lecture is now available online.



Time Composition and the Philosophy of the Event – and it’s a perfect description of what Real Time Composition aspires to become.

Real Time Composition its a theoretical-practical tool that studies, problematizes and systematizes the experience of improvisation and composition in art, using the field provided by contemporary dance as a privileged territory of investigation and application.

Real Time Composition claims that the creative act cannot result from an intention or personal projection (whether explicit or implicit) but has to be the result of an encounter. An encounter with time, space, another, a thing, an affection... The strength of this encounter - its importance and influence - is directly proportional to the capacity one’s have to suspend his or her trajectory and put on hold beliefs, certitudes and convictions. This suspension is what allows us to maintain the accurate equidistance between disquiet and situation, creating the conditions to discover (within the noise, excess and acceleration around and inside us) what really affects, moves and touches us.

The practice of Real Time Composition offers a set of concepts-tools to postpone the answer, prolong the breach and enable the proper and precise formulation of the questions we carry as artists. Real Time Composition trains the contra-intuitive ability to look at ourselves from the outside while the event unfolds. This capability to generate distance while being "matter”, stimulates and activates a delicate sensitivity towards details and peripheral activities that would go unnoticed if we remained “blind” by what we expected to see.

The condition for this practice to be successful is directly connected with the ability we have to develop and strengthen the capacity to inhibit reflex actions. The reason is simple: being "time" the most precious asset we possess when confronted with the unknown, if we act reflexively, on impulse, without taking into account the situation but solely our personal needs and points of view, this time (distended, suspended, increased) ceases to exist. And without this (real) time, there is no duration. And without duration there is no composition.

The main difference between those two periods was the fact I started, after 1995 to develop a sensitivity towards the idea that before the moment of collision, before “being there” - in and with a situation - there was no way I can anticipate or understand the “what’s”, the “how’s” or the “where’s” of a work. It might seam obvious now, but at the moment this aha moment operated a major shift in the way I choreographed till then. This was the moment I realized a key concept in my work (which I was only able to formulate very recently with the research I did with the anthropologist Fernanda Eugénio and her unique way to perceive and use ethnography): that a conversation, a relation or a composition was not about under-standing but simply about standing. That there is nothing “under” the “stand”. This also led me to another key concept closely connected with composition and the way its generated in my work or, better said, the way it emerges.

In Real Time Composition the first “move” must be offered as a position (a stand) and not as a composition (a under-stand). This way the other (a collaborator, the spectator, the other-in-you, etc.) will be able to perceive it (and receive it) not as an opposition but as an open position, a position-com. In Portuguese, the preposition “com” means “with”, so the first move would be perceived as a position-with. With what? No one knows and that’s the goal of the first part of this “question game”: to experience this not-knowing for as long as possible. To postpone its ending. But as in every aspect of life, big or small, real or fictionalised, sooner or later the end will happen and accepting it marks the starting point of the second part of the game: the confirmation of the tendency proposed by the “position-com” with a “com-position”. This way “composing” becomes a consequence and not a cause. Becomes emergent.


JOÃO FIADEIRO (1965) belongs to the generation of choreographers that emerged towards the end of the 1980s and gave rise to the Nova Dança Portuguesa [New Portuguese Dance]. A large part of his training was carried out between Lisbon, New York and Berlin. In 1990 he founded the Atelier | RE.AL Company that supported the creation and diffusion of many choreographers including his works, regularly presented all over Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and South America.

Between 1995 and 2003 he collaborated with the Portuguese theatre company Artistas Unidos [United Artists] where he staged plays by Samuel Beckett, Sarah Kane and Jon Fosse.
Between 2008 and 2014 he co-directed with anthropologist Fernanda Eugenio the AND_Lab, a research laboratory around sustainable coexistence, working on the relation between ethics, aesthetics and politics.

In 2014, after a 6 year hiatus, João Fiadeiro come back to his chorographic work through the re-enactment of some of his early solos and by creating a new group piece called “What to do with what remains” in 2015.

Real Time Composition a research developed for the past 20 years in cooperation with many other disciplines besides contemporary dance - such as economy, neurobiology or complex systems sciences - has lead João Fiadeiro to coordinate workshops in Masters and PhDs in several national and international schools and universities. João Fiadeiro is currently attending a PhD degree in Contemporary Art at the University of Coimbra in Portugal.