Robot joins dancers in new work by Jean Abreu

9 Apr 2018

Jean Abreu Company in ‘Solo for Two’








A new dance work by British-Brazilian choreographer Jean Abreu, Solo for Two

A man and a woman – and a little robot – struggle to find their place in the world

Six-venue UK tour opens: The Edge, Bath, 16 & 17 May
London premiere: Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, 23 & 24 May
Site-responsive performance: Horniman Museum, London, 19 July

British-Brazilian choreographer Jean Abreu has spent half his life in Brazil and the other half in Britain. His new dance work Solo for Two sees him work with acclaimed Belgian dramaturg Guy Cools to explore how this dual identity – formed in-between different cultures and dance languages – is created by cycles of loss, letting go and new beginnings.

Leaving behind the Brazilian heat, the social dances, the cooked beans and the sound of a mother’s voice, a man and a woman, two sides of the same coin, struggle to find their place in the worldIn this powerfully physical duet, danced to a new electronic score by Luca Biada and a bittersweet collage of songs and laments, the dancers are inextricably linked in a battle for survival and a new identity.

A third performer is a little robot called Macheba who mirrors, observes and interacts with the dancers. A two-headed female character, with a bird-light as the conscious eye and a projector as the subconscious level, Macheba scans the dancers’ memories and projects their feelings. Operated and cued on the spot as part of the choreography, she is a witness to their struggle, scanning and limiting the space and determining their options.

Macheba is the creation of technologists Michele Panegrossi, Luca Biada and computer scientist Leon Watts in collaboration with Jean Abreu and Guy Cools.

With the use of robotics in Solo for Two, Jean continues to explore the challenges of technology in his work, following BLOOD, his 2013 collaboration with Gilbert & George.

Leon Watts says:

“Macheba enters into the process as an agent of renewal; a totem of embodied technology and of personal memory. In one moment, Macheba is an extension of the self, in another a separated identity speaking to the alien otherness of technical systems. This collaboration has been a process of conceiving, designing, choreographing and sharing and demonstrates how a scientist with an analytical mindset, the fluid holistic mindset of an artist, and rapid prototyping by a creative technologist, can all work together to find new understandings of interaction in society.”

Guy Cools says:  “After BLOOD, Solo for Two is a further exploration of Jean Abreu’s personal history as an artist who moves between dance cultures: how there is no fixed origin and how every departure not only implies loss, but is also a new beginning. As a dramaturg, I am happy to support the birth of this new creation as a ‘midwife’.”

Solo for Two is co-commissioned by Southbank Centre and Horniman Museum & Gardens, and supported by Arts Council England, University of Bath, Bath Spa University, Swindon Dance and South East Dance.