On 11 June 2019, Jean Abreu gave us an impressive lecture. He shared with us his personal experiences, explained the concept of “Contemporary Dance”, recommended three contemporary dance choreographers, articulated his Movement Methodology and introduced his latest choreographic work.
Jean was born in Brazil. As the first dancer in his family, he was considered “crazy” by his family members. But he soon proved his mettle and successfully raised himself by dancing. He started with Brazil Ballroom dance, which is a popular form of social dance. At the age of 19 and a half, he went to England and studied in the world-renowned Laban Dance Centre, where he went through intensive training. In 2003, at the age of 26, he won the Jerwood Choreography Award for his first choreography work. In the same time, he gradually started his self-exploration about his identity. On the one hand, he regarded body movement as a language and got information from reading body language; on the other hand, he spared no effort in learning English, trying to embed his mind into another cultural context. As he put it, “I want to be fully engaged.”
Looking back on his experiences, he concluded with a word: “unplanned”. “I never planned my study or career. I always follow my gut instinct.”
Introducing Contemporary Dance
Jean articulates Contemporary Dance as an art which focuses on the present. It breaks through rules and form. Contemporary Dance also features creative freedom, independence between dance and music, and unpredictable changes in rhythm, speed, and direction.
He then introduced three contemporary dance choreographers - Pina Bausch, Dimitris Papaioannou and Jamila Johnson and their works.
Jean summarizes his Movement Methodology with 6 key words: spontaneity, fluidity, cycles, continuity, fierceness and vulnerability. For him, music only serves as an afterthought and he prefers dancing without music. Though he treasures spontaneity and “being fully engaged”, he does not see facial expressions as part of contemporary dance performance. Instead, he hopes that dancers and audience focus on body movement itself
The Latest Choreographic Work
Furthermore, Jean showed us his latest choreographic work--As They Are. He chooses to work with two female dancers this time, exploring the possibilities of laments and the role of women in this kind of art. “I am fascinated by the paradox generated by loss within the body, which provokes total abandonment and fragility as well as absolute control and drive.” He wants to use lament, the polyphonic music, to bring out the beauty and power of this emotional fragility in the body.
Impressions on the Workshop
Zhang jiayan： Jean Abreu dismantled the paradigms for dances and dated back to the origin of dancing, which is the primitive rhythm(waves of the centre core and pulse) that is universal among all the human beings, regardless of the cultural or biological differences. The collisions and resonance derived from the oscillations of individual body movements generated an order with disorder, which was fascinating as well.
Jean Abreu (Artistic Director of Jean Abreu Dance / Choreographer). Born in Brazil and grown up in UK, who is an influential choreographer in UK and all around the world. Jean graduated from Laban Centre for Contemporary Dance, acknowledged as ‘Contemporary Dance Genius’ and rapidly rose to fame afterwards. Jean choreographed his first work in 2003 and later that year was honoured with the Jerwood Choreography Award. Jean founded Jean Abreu Dance in 2009 and since then, his works have toured throughout the UK(including Royal Opera House, Southbank Art Centre, London Dance Umbrella, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, etc), Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Brazil, Ukraine, Croatia, Mexico, etc. Jean was also engaged as Visiting Artist of The Place Dance Centre and Dance East Company of London.
In 2016, the University initiated the Artist-in-Residence Programme to create an artistic atmosphere on campus and to elevate student's aesthetic taste. We regularly invite top artists from various fields to reside on campus, create artworks and hold workshops with students.
The programme may last 5-10 days or 1-2 months. Artists will work with or guide students to create or appreciate artworks through workshop or lectures. Artists will also take into account resources available off campus to contribute towards our development