Repertório N.1, 2019

DAVI PONTES

São Gonçalo, RJ, 1990

Dance artist, choreographer and researcher. Bachelor in Arts at UFF and Postgraduate Program in Contemporary Studies of Arts at UFF. He has presented his work in art galleries and national and international festivals, mainly the “Sem Título” project, created in Portugal at the Centro Cultural de Belém and exhibited in Lisbon and Porto. Among his most recent works, the trilogy "Repertório" in partnership with the dancer Wallace Ferreira stood out. The artist has dedicated his practice to deepen the concept of representation and its operation from the idea of ​​archive contained in the production of History. His pieces come from research processes, informed by his experience in the field of visual arts and dance.

interview by Igor Furtado, published on 25/06/2020

Davi Pontes
Davi Pontes

Repertório N.1, Valongo Festival, photography by Hudson Rodrigues, 2019

What was it like growing up in São Gonçalo and in what ways did this shape your work?

I was born in 1990, in the municipality of São João de Meriti, Rio de Janeiro. I also lived in Vicente de Carvalho and Penha with my grandparents. My family is not financially traditional. My parents dreamed of moving to São Gonçalo because they envisioned a life away from the violence that we had to face constantly. São Gonçalo appeared as an alternative to a better life, and it definitely was. My parents and grandparents bought land with the savings they had been collecting for years. My mother working as a maid and my grandfather in the construction industry, built our house. I grew up surrounded by green, running through the streets without asphalt, a different reality then what my parents had faced. I don't believe only in normative dance training where you learn a certain technique, study at a school, take some classes of this and that. I think that everything we experience constitutes our formation. Violence is a recurring theme in my work, but for now, I refuse to reenact scenes of violence. I am interested in thinking about violence outside the field of representation. Make the gesture again a gesture in my body.

When did your interest in creating from the movement begin?

I was born and raised in a dance environment, with my family creating any reason for a barbecue. We listened to a lot of samba (Arlindo Cruz, Zeca Pagodinho, Jorge Aragão, Alcione…). Grandpa Nilo was an unconditional fan of Nelson Sargento, I remember listening to him humming "naquela mesa" around the house, while grandmother Lourdes followed. Since I was very young I knew how to dance all the choreographies of the group “é o tchan” and I spent the day choreographing my friends. There was nothing I wanted to do other than that. I can't say for sure if that's what made me want to study dance and live off it. But, informally, I think that everything I could observe in my childhood, accompanying my parents and grandparents, was really very magical. I think I ended up wanting to pursue those memories, and that's how it is today. After having danced for years in the church, at the age of 15 I became interested in taking contemporary dance classes, also got to know ballet. Then, I joined a dance company in São Gonçalo called Cia. Dimensões. It is difficult to explain this in a rational and scientific world, but dreams, fears, desires, the need to develop worlds are present and strongly active when I create dances.

Davi Pontes

Choreographic Conference, 2019

Davi Pontes
Davi Pontes

Repertório N.1, photography by De Beija, 2019

How was the creation process of Repertório N.1? Is it harder to develop a work that is constatly changing?

After few years alone, I felt the need to return to work in partnership. I gathered many ideas, but it was also in dialogue with other artists, almost always from other languages, that I resumed this desire. In early November 2018, I was invited by the curator and friend Juliana Araújo to create a work. I immediately wanted to betray this desire of being alone and be accompanied. I didn't even know Wallace yet, but after seeing him work on a piece, I was sure that I wanted to share this creation with him. From the beginning, I knew I didn't want to do a stage job. I continued to meet with Wallace after this presentation and we decided to continue even without any expectations of when we would present it again. We spent hours in a rehearsal room trying to answer the same question: how to develop a dance of self-defense? Our training in the beginning was very physical because we wanted to prepare a body that was ready to not know, not to be prepared, a body that fights. We were not interested in the struggle that produces violence, the same that justifies / authorizes the use of total violence, which continues to be practiced without prejudice to social normality. This would be precisely to fulfill the desire expected for our bodies. In one of our essays, Wallace brought up the example of the body that performs when it meets the police and the body that performs to escape violence in the street. Do you understand what I mean? That is the self-defense program. Create an attentive, vigilant body of possibility, of a promise that something can happen, but without necessarily knowing what will happen. This has a lot to do with our survival and existence. We wanted to play with uncertainty, disorder and the provisional. The job of not planning the next situation, but believing that it would unfold somehow. This is very hard. For us, these principles were fundamental. They serve almost as a stumbling block that causes one thing to become another. Not because it was programmed, but because it is already there. The state we wanted to activate only happens with the increase in body temperature. For example, to get the job started we had to be sweaty. There is a moment that after spending about 20 to 30 minutes repeatedly on a particular action, we have to decide to stop at the same time. Before starting, there was a fear of failure, because that was the command that would take us to the second moment. These principles are for being attentive, to be affected by things that come up (almost always) in the depth of uncertainties. After gathering material, we invited Bruno Reis to guide us. He had been my professor at the university and also worked as a playwright. He worked mainly organizing our desires, listening to us, provoking other ambitions. We read some texts together such as: “Culture and Representation”, by Stuart Hall, “Towards a disobedient gender and anti-colonial redistribution of violence!", By Jota Mombaça among others. Jota Mombaça writes that it is necessary to recognize the ways that each body elaborates your own self-defense ability and that there are many ways to think and train it. I think about it a lot at this work. We are not creating any program, formula or booklet. The best thing is to realize that dance requires me to accept a condition of eternal uncertainty and impermanence.

Sem Título, 2017

What was it like to live in Europe and produce the work "Sem Título"?

In the first semester of 2016, I went on an exchange in Portugal. After a long selection process, I was approved in a public call of the university and got a government grant to study a degree in Theater at the Superior School of Music and Performing Arts. It was a radical shock to live in Portugal. I arrived in winter and at the time it rained a lot. Apart from this climatic adaptation, which is the most obvious, I had the adaptation of being alone, away from family, friends. It is very difficult to be a foreigner. It was also very difficult to adapt to school. In the first week of class I noticed that maybe I would be the only black person in that space. Later, I met very few students. Portugal made me experience a facet of racism that I had never experienced before. I remember feeling very observed, on the street, in the supermarket, on public transport, wherever I crossed. I met an existence translated by hyper-marking. The experience in Portugal was very painful, but later I stopped to ask why I insisted for so long. It was because of a great involvement, commitment, everything I bring to my work today. In 2017, I returned to Lisbon. I had been selected in the BoxNova Program at the Centro Cultural de Belém. I did one of my most important works, “Sem Título”. It was literally heavy. I was interested in finding ways to get rid of a colonial body. It was a bet on invisibility, contrary to all representation policies and the desire to be seen. I was interested in creating a dance using “statements”. Usually this type of procedure is associated with the construction of performances. I researched every day, five hours a day, even at home I continued to work and read things. For the first time I had a team. The training was to understand the structures and be able to act within them. I didn't want to rehearse the actions. I thought that at that moment there was a lot of importance to the steps. For me, building these actions was also a dance task. How to create a happening within a structure? I choreographed each part of that piece. Everything was cataloged, adjusted and designed and at the same time I didn't know what could happen. I wanted to betray the principle of the work. I was very angry and tired during the preparation and I put a lot of that on the scene. After watching it for a few years, I think about building a fragile place. The moment when the pain and the wound coexist even without being revealed. I understood that in order to shudder the well-ordered montage of the racial subject, it was necessary to summon the body to dig its experience in the world.

Mata Leão, Morto Vivo, 2020

How is your research process?

Each job requires me to think differently. Choreography is the device that organizes everything I do. I understand that this word is not just the art of describing dance, but it can be understood beyond these paradigms, outside the field of dance, such as, for example; The choreography that defines who circulates in the center and who is on the margins. The choreography that marks the borders between countries. The choreography that demonstrates for which racial and social type a virus can be more lethal or not. This transformation signals the porosity that the word carries, which points to the expanded dimension of choreography and its ability to explain what happens in the world. Lately I'm interested in provisional processes, in the construction of images, but without thinking of them as something fixed. The desire to mount and collapse are together. In a short time, the strategies we put together to manufacture escapes lose their effectiveness and are easily absorbed. One issue that interests me is to dismantle the traps of meaning and point to directions where meaning can flow. These movements can be disruptive to the public, but I have no impulse to cause discomfort. I think my process arises from the experience of putting myself into play within each work. Today I withdraw more, I don't want to swallow the world. I just wish it would come to an end. That's why I end up experiencing a lot of each process, precisely because I don't hurry.

What's your next project?

Gradually I have given in to the desire to choreograph larger groups. Recognizing this movement has been a generous process to me. I am no longer interested in working in dance companies, where the institutional system breaks the bond between people. But I want to continue my work and the partnerships I want to make with artists I admire so much. I can say that I am working in this direction. On the other hand, I want to go back to work at Repertório N.2, which was in the residency phase before the arrival of the pandemic. Soon we will make our first international trip with Repertório N.1 to the FLAM Forum of Live Art Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Saber Onde Pisa, 2017