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Choreographer Deborah Colker: ‘Dog Without Feathers is the most visceral show I’ve made’

Deborah Colker in Dog Without Feathers

Recently announced as an artist in residence at the Southbank Centre in London, the Brazilian choreographer tells Giverny Masso about her company’s work Dog Without Feathers, which has its UK premiere this month…

What are your company’s most important works?
For a company that is always searching for new ways to express itself, all shows are important. Each new show answers questions left by the previous show and asks new ones. Among our iconic shows, VeRo – Velox and Rota investigates movement and space, subverting rules, creating new ones and introducing everyday life as a theme. The theme of Node is desire – it marked a new phase in our work in which philosophy and the human condition became a central necessity. But Dog Without Feathers is the most primitive, visceral show I’ve made.

How would you describe the style of the company?
I believe my style is experimental – ideas are always my guide. At one point, I found investigating and making new spaces to find innovative movement vocabularies very important. Day-to-day life was also the subject of many pieces: things that seem very trivial on the surface always interested me a lot. Themes such as home, sports, the streets and play were always my inspiration. But since 2005, the human condition, the enigmas of life, the inconceivable in existence have become my focus. I have found that what’s under the surface has more feeling. And my work forms a dialogue with other languages and experiences.

What have been your biggest career challenges?
Creating and directing Cirque du Soleil’s Ovo was a challenge that required both persistence and resilience. Choreographing the opening ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 was logistically demanding – working with volunteers and the many other people directing the event. Making the film that forms part of Dog Without Feathers with film-maker Claudio Assis was also extremely challenging.

Cirque du Soleil’s Ovo review at Royal Albert Hall, London – ‘spectacular acts’

What will you do with your residency at the Southbank Centre?
For me, this residency offers the possibility to exchange experiences and ideas. I will be able to share my creative process and my strong belief that through body and movement we can build ideas – that dance is a powerful communication tool. Through the residency, we can gather people of different languages and practices, as in Dog Without Feathers, in which we are combining cinema, poetry, music and dance to deliver a show.

What is the inspiration behind your latest piece?
Joao Cabral de Melo Neto’s poem Dog Without Feathers, on which the work is based, is about the Capibaribe River, located in north-eastern Brazil, and the people who live on its banks. It’s about nature: both geography and human nature. It talks about inconceivable and unimaginable aspects of the human condition.

CV Deborah Colker

Training: Psychology at PUCRJ –Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (1979); music at PROART – School of Music, Rio de Janeiro
First professional role: Anima Animus, Teatro Cacilda Becker, Rio de Janeiro (1979)
Agent: None

Dog Without Feathers runs at the Queen Elizabeth Hall from May 7 to 10

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