What Josephine, on her return, thought in the middle of August 1995:
“After listening to a speech on the radio by the Portuguese President Mario Soares (I don’t remember if it was during 10th June or 25th April), in which he spoke about the world at that time with something one might call an elevation of the spirit (something that unfortunately is surprising in a politician these days, so you listen to it with great pleasure), I connected that speech to Glenn Gould and to his Goldberg Variations (the ones of maturity), to Kazuo Ohno, and also to an expression that came into my mind: “greatness of soul”. My big wish of a victory of the spirit, is what I think this association reveals.
It is one thing that I would like to find or create: a vast territory in which richness of spirit prevails. (Is massification of education the answer?) This spirit I’m talking about has no wish to abolish the body, has no shame of its desire and of its sex, what this spirit wishes is to eradicate coarseness, the frightful foolishness, the deep ignorance, the poverty of horizons, the materialism, etc., etc. (unfortunately, this seems to be a long list...).
It would be a new dichotomy, not the overtired “body-spirit” (empty of meaning, frankly!), but the unhappily modern “stupidity-spirit” (or maybe “ignorance-spirit”) or all possible variants (It would be nice to make up my mind for one...).”
* What he really said about Josephine:
“one mysterious Thing, neither primitive nor civilised, or beyond time, in the sense that emotion is beyond arithmetics”
The solo “one mysterious Thing, said e.e.cummings*” was created in January 1996 for the “Homage to Josephine Baker”, an event organized by the theatre Culturgest in Lisbon. In her vision of the life and the work of the black dancer and singer of the first half of the 20th century, Vera Mantero chose an approach that goes beyond the face of Josephine Baker. In the program she wrote: “It is one thing that I would like to find or create: a vast territory in which richness of spirit prevails. (…) This spirit I’m talking about has no wish to abolish the body, has no shame of its desire and of its sex, what this spirit wishes is to eradicate coarseness, the frightful foolishness, the deep ignorance, the poverty of horizons, the materialism, etc., etc. (unfortunately, this seems to be a long list...)”
"An impossibility, a bad way of living, a sadness, an absence, a sorrow, an inability, atrocious" are some of the words that are repeated, with an insistence growing, throughout the spectacle "where Vera Mantero precariously balances herself on goat feet and budging to the rhythm of difficulty that the words enunciate without arriving to pull out the feet of the condemnation to which they remain. Exasperating corporisation of an uncomfortableness that, as one knows, always begins by being a not knowing what to do with the body" describes Alexandre Melo in Expresso. And he concludes: "Two hypotheses to describe this generic, general, civilizational situation: there is something that lacks. Or, maybe better, there is something that is not."
Text in the press-release of the festival Danças na Cidade 1996
Concept and performance
Alda Salavisa (original drawing by Carlota Lagido)
Original light design
João Paulo Xavier
Light adaptation and operation
Culturgest, Lisbon, 1996
Homage to Josephine Baker
Casa da Juventude de Almada
Re.Al / Amascultura
Duration of the performance
O Rumo do Fumo is supported by GOVERNO DE PORTUGAL - SECRETÁRIO DO ESTADO DA CULTURA / DIRECÇÃO-GERAL DAS ARTES
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