Brazilian-British choreographer Jean Abreu and the Belgian, Vienna-based dance dramaturg Guy Cools have been collaborating since 2016. Their collaborations Solo for Two and As They Are, Mantras for the Body research how traditional laments such as the Greek moiroloi can be translated in a physical language and choreographic practice.
Here, Jean and Guy engaged in a conversation with each other and the audience about how their choreographic and dramaturgical practices nurture each other and how they are researching the physical language of loss and laments. This research is also part of Guy Cool’s recently published book, Performing Mourning: Laments in Contemporary Art, which Independent Dance and Siobhan Davies Studios launched on the same night.
‘Cools is particularly interested in how the emotions of loss need to be externalized. The laments are a formal device, used in many cultures to express and contain the emotions of grief. In a poetic, meandering, personal way Cools explores cultural habits, traditions, rituals, and artists’ performances. His narrative looks into many forms of laments: literary, anthropological, philosophical, and in contemporary art practices.
The latter part delves into artistic strategies to address or embody mourning: dialogical strategies that deal with personal losses; collective mourning rituals and how they invite communities to witness these losses; contemporary examples of laments that are not only used to dialogue with the dead but also to communicate with loved ones who are absent because of migration or exile; a very specific form of mourning that occurs when we grieve for the unrealized potential of a child’s unlived life, including that of an unborn child. And finally, the very recent phenomenon of lamenting not just the losses of the past, but also the loss of a future.’ – From the book publisher Valiz.
Born in Brazil, Jean Abreu moved to London in 1996 after receiving a scholarship to study at Trinity Laban Conservatoire for Music and Dance. In 2003 he was awarded the Jerwood Choreography Award and became an Associate Artist at The Place in London.
Since then his work has toured throughout the UK, Europe and Brazil including performances for Royal Opera House, Dance Umbrella Festival, Southbank Centre, Julidans Festival & the Auditório Ibirapuera São Paulo. He founded Jean Abreu Dance in 2009. Across his career Jean has been a movement director for fashion magazines and global advertising campaigns including TikTok, Nike, OutThere Magazine. Jean has taught extensively his movement practice in the UK and abroad in renowned dance organisations and universities across the globe.
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 and dance curator. He now dedicates himself to production dramaturgy, contributing to work by choreographers all over Europe and Canada such as: Jean Abreu (UK), 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. Cools lives in Vienna.
These bios are published as submitted in September 2021.