Photo by João Fiadeiro
Real Time Composition first principles started to be drawn in 1995, initially in a very intuitive and solitary way and later within a systematize approach in collaboration with other artists and researchers. Real Time Composition had, since the beginning, five major folds as a result of paradigm shifts imposed by João Fiadeiro in his path as an artist and researcher.
At first, in the late 80s, long before João Fiadeiro started the process of systematizing the Real Time Composition tool, his position was stated in the form of rupture with the vertical and pyramidal logics of collaboration he experimented in his first experiences as a choreographer influenced by the american modern dance classes he took in New York (between 1994 and 1996) and the neo-classical tradition he experienced at the Gulbenkian Ballet in Lisbon (where he was a student, a dancer and later a choreographer between 1988 and 1991). This rupture was only possible because in New York and specially at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival (where he had a scholarship in 1988) he ran into horizontal collaborative practices, especially the ones proposed by the Judson Church movement (and the “package” of influences that came attached with it) where contact-improvisation, a technic he later practiced and taught intensively, was a key reference. Another key encounter that fed this paradigm shift happened in Lisbon as a result of the intense and collaborative relation he developed with artists and thinkers from the New Portuguese Dance scene such as Vera Mantero, Francisco Camacho or André Lepecki. Together we become pioneers of the Portuguese new dance scene contributing to the de-hierarchization of collaborative practices; we found ways for disciplines to contaminate each other; and we brought research, process and contemporary political awareness into the artistic practice. It was around this time that João Fiadeiro put together Atelier Real, a platform that served simultaneously to produce his own work, support emergent artists and host transdisciplinary events
The second paradigm shift happened in the late 90s. The need to re-position his relation with choreography and improvisation didn’t result from a rupture as the previous fold but rather has a consequence of the critical questioning he started to cultivate on some of the assumptions that supported the principles on improvisation he had adopted and practiced until that moment. Particularly those defending the existence of a direct relationship between freedom and authenticity or between the immediacy of an action and its ability to protect us from power structures that reasoning, logic or thinking carry. He shared many of these concerns but his practice and experience as an improviser was informing him otherwise. Slowly he realized that an “action faster than thought”, legitimized by its “spontaneity” (and therefore considered more “genuine”), was as loaded with power structures as a predetermined gesture. And his intuition was that those power structures were far more perverse and pernicious than the ones he could find in traditional forms of relation which, exactly because they are more explicit, they were also easier to identify and deactivate. He sensed that there was a third possible path, where one could, at the same time, be with (and within) present time – central premise of the movement he was somehow questioning – but could also create the necessary distance, look at the action from the outside, and map the properties and the possibilities of the relations to come. This when he slowly moved away from contact-improvisation and instantaneous composition to embrace the systematization of Real Time Composition. This was done in a continuous research practice he activated with young artists like Claudia Dias, Márcia Lança, Rui Catalão, Helga Guzner or Gustavo Sumpta and with artists from different fields like Walter Lauterer, Joris Lacoste, Paula Caspão or Arnold Noid. It was with this group that Real Time Composition stopped being a singular practice that belonged to one artist to become a (complex) system, fed by collective exchange, transversal to practice and theory; fiction and real; or art and science.
This questioning and awareness made João Fiadeiro take a break from choreographic practice in 2008 so he could fully engage and focus on the study, the processing and the systematization of Real Time Composition. This decision led him to a third paradigm shift, augmented by the fact that there were more and more researchers, from areas as diverse as Complex Systems Sciences, Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, Clinical Psychology, Economics, Philosophy or Anthropology, developing an interest and curiosity on Real Time Composition. After he stopped choreographing, João Fiadeiro started to dedicate a substantial amount of time involved in exchange projects with researchers from this various fields. The attraction was mutual and the interest reciprocal: from his side the initial aim was to find concepts that would feed and support the intuitions he had on decision making, collaboration or mediation. From their side, the possibility to have access to a tool like Real Time Composition which puts into practice some of their thesis and hypotheses on “how people live and work together”. During a period of almost 8 years he developed an intense and deep relation with different researchers that led them to design “new disciplines/research platforms” based on the encounter between Real Time Composition and Complex System Sciences (Social Stigmergy with Jorge Louçã); Real Time Composition and economics/management (Skills for Decision with António Alvarenga); and Real Time Composition and anthropology (Modo Operativo AND with Fernanda Eugénio).
The fourth paradigm shift was, in fact, a two-stroke return movement. The first one took him back to choreographic practice through two new group works that he directed in 2015 (What to do with what remains) and in 2018 (From afar it was an island). This works brought together, among others, artists who participated intensively in the AND_Lab project, such as Daniel Pizamiglio and Carolina Campos (key figures in his return to artistic making); and Márcia Lança, a performer and choreographer who played a central role in the first experiences around Real Time Composition back in the 2000’s. The second stroke takes him a further leap backwards towards contact-improvisation, a practice with which he intensively worked in the late 80s and 90s. This reunion takes place through a Real Time Composition workshop which he led in 2016 at the Contact-improvisation Festival in Freiburg and with the curatorship of the first ever exhibition on Steve Paxton work and legacy done in 2019. This new (old) place in which João Fiadeiro closed a cycle that opened more than twenty years ago.
The fifth and actual fold took place in 2019 with the dismantling of Atelier Real (as a result of the pressure of gentrification in the city of Lisbon) and João Fiadeiro’s decision not to replicate the model of company (RE.AL) or space (Atelier Real). It’s a moment of “zero acceleration”, where he is moving simultaneously back into the future and forward into the past.