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choreography by DEBORAH HAY adapted by MARIANA TENGNER BARROS


The Solo Performance Commission Project-SPCP


Dancers commission a solo dance from Deborah Hay. She guides and coaches them in the performance of the solo during an 11-day period in a residency setting. At the conclusion of the residency each participant signs a contractual agreement to a daily solo practice of the new piece, for a minimum of three months before their first public performance. What is unique about this project is that the dancers must raise the commissioning fee from within his/her community. This becomes the selection process by which a performer attends the SPCP. Community, whether family, friends, local, state, or national granting agencies, corporations, become the patrons for each dance. All patrons receive program acknowledgment every time the solo is performed by any of the participating dancers.

NOTE FROM DEBORAH HAY: In order to maintain my own creative growth and support the same in the dancer/choreographers who plan to attend the 2010 Solo Performance Commissioning Project, I would like to augment the criteria that the dancer/choreographer needs to consider in relation to her/his experience in the field.
In addition to the already existing criteria, I propose;
1) that you are already consciously working with time and space as tangible materials that serve your dancing and/or choreography; and,
2) that you are already resourcing areas outside of your physical body to support and enhance your dancing; and,
3) that you have had enough experience in dance and performance to provide you with a deep sense of trust in the feedback from your body as your teacher, and
4) that how you see while you are dancing is an area of performance that you recognize as substantial.

AT ONCE by Mariana Tengner Barros (some extracts of the process of adaptation)

Notes for possible in adaptation.
01/13/ 2010 - 1:05AM

At Once’ is a new challenge I am embracing. A solo choreographed by Deborah Hay, that I learned in September 2009 in Findhorn, Scotland, alongside other 20 dancers. I am now in the process of adaptation of the solo and hope to present it to an audience in a near future. The uniqueness of this process lives in the fact that there is no rehearsing involved. The challenge I took from Deborah was to perform it everyday, for a minimum of 3 months prior to the first public performance and avoid rehearsing parts of it, film it, or having the usual people to give feedback throughtout the time of the adaptation process. It is through the practise of performance that I will understand what the core of the work is, how I want to contextualize it, frame it, rather than by what it looks like from the outside. I get informed by writing as much as I want after each practise, by thinking as much as I need before and after, never during. When I perform it, there is no time to think, or judge. Deborah showed us tools to use to avoid all the beautiful traps one usually falls in as a performer. ‘At once’ is about being ready, not preparing, hesitate or doubt. It’s about letting go of habits, of pre-conceptions, is a huge disattachment from my own constructed image as a performer. A non-linear lesson to myself. Sense without a clear meaning. Clarity in non-linearity as a result of what I see. Perceiving dance as a way of seeing, or seeing dance as a way of perceiving (from the performer’s side at least). I am enjoying this process greatly and learning with it and from it daily. I will be posting some texts and images of my adaptation here as a way of organizing thoughts and sharing part of it as I go along.

01/20/2010 - 12:20PM

The process of adaptation of Deborah Hay’s solo At Once is going well and continues to challenge my understanding of dance and choreography everyday. I took some photos of a practise of the performance of the solo last week to see how this costume works from the outside. I have been in these clothes for 2 weeks at least and keep getting surprised.
When she comes in we are left unsure of where she comes from, what is her recent past, what state she’s in, what she represents. She walks fast and short. Her texan boots are very pointy and sometimes her weight is so far back on her heels that it seems she’s being held by an invisible string. She mumbles some sounds that might be words, on another world or Age. She seems to listen attentively to this voice that she is allowing to come through her mouth and then she abruptly changes focus, to us. She sees us, and seems to re-adjust invisibly for something that is not yet arrived.
She’s tired, her body aches, it is as if her muscles are out of place. She’s out of place.
A rainbow. The symbol for her gigantic joy and sorrow at once. She used to be an entertainer, what the hell is left now? She has no idea what she’s doing, she’s just busy in her questions. Everything looks so empty today. Lola Cat, that’s how she remembers her name. Lola Cat. Lola is, or was, a star, a rock, dirty glam star.
She undresses her jacket and holds it looking like she doesn’t want it anymore. She’s bored, confused, precious. She plays an invisible tennis match with the unknown. Ball in ball out. Step, step, step, beat and beat. Everything has been undressed of meaning and judgment. She forgot where she came from and where she once wanted to go. Now it really doesn’t matter. She doesn’t care. Forces are stronger than reason. Noticing her noticing. Fascination. Fascination she has for details. She’s almost not crazy, she believes. There are some rules she follows obviously, as a human being does, as being implies. She forgets what Past means, doesn’t even consider Future. Time is a way of perceiving the world one is in and there are so many things she doesn’t know she knows…

Notes for Possible at ONCE.
01/13/2010 - 1:57AM


She enters into the space, determined yet not-knowing. Her face is like a piece of moldable plaster, inside feelings jumble at the same time. It all happens at the same time, it all happens in the same space, at the same place. She has this sort of punk, 80’s look. Dirty rock star. Decadent simple rock star. Yes.

No, she’s in black. Stripy sweater. Red and blue. Black shoes from Findhorn. She sings a song that strikes her body as an arrow, only this arrow strikes it from inside to the outside. She doesn’t think. Or better, she thinks everything at the same time, in the same moment, AT ONCE. Meaning is everywhere, but there is no time to understand it. It is like a painter’s brush, strokes of behaviours, of people, of situations, brush through her body. She never knows what she really means, but she doesn’t worry. Arms repeat a LJ figure. She was singing Happy Birthday but she doesn’t know who the birthday holder was. She gets frustrated, a lot. She sings out of her forgotten depths. What a thing, what a thing. She is more than she thinks she is. She didn’t even choose her name yet. She doesn’t do if she notices herself doing something. She, in black and white, in blue, some red, from black. Sorrow invades her Joy, Joy squeezes her sorrow. At a timeless place that she calls once.


She’s totally drunk. She is wearing sleapers as shoes. She tries to be professional. She’s lust. She is needy. She sees love and loneliness in her surroundings. She wants to fuck, but she definitely does not want to fuck it up. She’s a mess. She is slowly getting to a point. She notices a will to laugh. She finds things hilarious, things are funny. She is serious about how she sees, but she does not take herself seriously. She’s crazy. She’s almost not, but she still is, because she notices too much. Crazyness is about that. To notice more than a normal person, to get kicks from details in things. I’m sorry darlings, it’s true. She tries not to make too much noise as it’s late, it’s dawn and the neighbours in the downstairs floor might wake up. She puts on a mask, sees herself in the mirror, she looses herself for a few seconds in wonder, ‘how beautiful are those pink lips? I want to kiss them, or better even, I want someone to kiss me, I want a body wanting me.’ She doesn’t care, she’s floating in a vortex of dreams. Whatever happens is whatever I am. I trust what I am, what I am is how I perceive. So it is. She takes pleasure in noticing that. Pleasure is great. Fuck the fact that we are supposed to feel guilty after pleasure. Pleasure is great. She thinks of westerns, cowboys and her favourites, the american indians and their charming rituals and chants. She fakes them as real as she can be. She builds holy sites, she enjoys a holy spontaneous unknown hymn and, as she is taking pleasure in singing it, she stops it by destroying the site and acknowledges that sorrowful moment with the joy of mastering this perverse, self-regulating action. Time and time again, this takes place. At once, all the cells in her body tell her to remain in this premise, to build and destroy and sing something that comes from a constructed image of another image based on a supposedly truthful action of a distant culture. Supposing, speculating, body does it and notices it. What to take from all this? Her questions about human co.existance and human tendency for feeling lonely as time passes.


I have practiced At Once, 5 days a week, every week for over 7 months. It has been an extremely enriching, freeing experience that completely shook my ideas towards interpretation, performance, authorship, rehearsal… I had to pause this process due to other work commitments, but finally re-started the process and premiered my adaptation during 2011. For my adaptation of ‘At Once’ I collaborated with Nuno Ferreira, a portuguese visual artist, that contributed with drawings/illustrations of the score, some being projected and animated live in a video format, and Tiago Cadete, that made different light designs for each performance. As I want to keep my attention as sharp as possible, I do not wish to know what lights are being used, each performance being a discovery for me throughout my journey in the score of At Once. I have also decided that I will always perform it in different locations. At Once will happen only once in each of them.


Choreography DEBORAH HAY 
Video / Drawings  NUNO FERREIRA 

Production EIRA



Check here our previous tour dates. If you wish to know what are the upcoming tour dates of this performance please check our agenda.  For any question you might have please reach Hugo Barros - EIRA or Patrícia Lages - EIRA. Thank you. 



If you are a professional programmer you can watch here a full lenght video of a showing of this solo project adapted by Mariana Tengner Barros. To get the password please contact Hugo Barros - EIRA or Patrícia Lages - EIRA. You may also ask for all professional documents, high quality images (jpg 300dpi), technical & finantial conditions, biographies and logos. All documents are free of rights but do not forget to communicate the author copyright


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