Title Image

Artist Researcher
in Residency

New axis of action

In parallel with the other axes of activity that Forum Dança promotes – Training, Creation, Programming – we are now inaugurating the “Research” area, giving it its own space, by right and autonomously but, like everything else, in articulation with the other dimensions of our activity.


This research area will be organized in periods of four years, in which we invite an artist to share his research with the Forum Dança community during that time. This sharing may be through workshops, open classes, research ateliers, tutorials, publications and presentations or other formats that make sense in the artist’s path in relation to Forum Dança and its closest community.


In this first edition, João Fiadeiro is chosen for the first route: due to the history of a long partnership with Forum Dança, the affinity of working methods, for being a creator who is in the phase of doctoral research and systematization of his career of decades.

© Arini Bianchi
© Arini Bianchi

João Fiadeiro


In 2021 Forum Dança invited João Fiadeiro to curate PACAP’s fifth edition. In collaboration with Carolina Campos, Márcia Lança and Daniel Pizamiglio, João Fiadeiro proposed a 9-month program, divided into three blocks, that had Real Time Composition as a reference tool for the study of improvisation, collaboration, and creation. PACAP 5 had the participation of 25 students, 5 mentors, 8 lecturers and 9 invited artists/collective-teachers and had public presentations at Teatro do Bairro Alto and at Espaço da Penha at the end of each block.


Following this intense and immersive experience, and because RE.AL and Forum Dança are long-standing collaborators[1], João Fiadeiro was invited to be Forum Dança’s artist-researcher in residency for the 2023-2026 quadrennium. It is intended that the dynamics generated by his presence will contribute to the emergence of a heterogeneous population of interlocutors, promoting interchanges and collaborations between generations, geographies, and artistic genres.


This invitation also coincides with João Fiadeiro’s current moment in his career. Since Atelier Real closed its doors, in 2019[2], he decided to direct his activity towards the ideas of archive and transmission. These relations gain expression, for example: in the doctorate he is carrying out at Colégio das Artes, University of Coimbra, precisely on the notion of archive and transmission in contemporary dance and performance; the donation he made of Atelier Real’s archive to Serralves in 2022; the retrospective on his body of work to be presented in 2024 at Centro Cultural de Belém; or with the films “Nada Pode Ficar” (2021) and “Pele Nómada” (2024), co-directed respectively with Maria João Guardão and Aline Belfort, which address the relationship that João Fiadeiro develops with the experience of inscription, memory and oblivion in the framework of his trajectory and legacy.


By welcoming João Fiadeiro in residency as an artist-researcher, it is Forum Dança’s intention to participate in this “movement” of “looking back towards the future”[3], and to affirm itself as a place of reference for studying New Portuguese Dance as an “intangible heritage-practice”[4], both at the level of its study and continued practice, but also through the creation of an arch(l)ive dedicated to Real Time Composition.


[1] – João Fiadeiro, director of RE.AL between 1990 and 2019, was a teacher in all of Forum Dança’s training programs, and the two institutions, founded in the same year (1990), shared the programming of numerous initiatives, and even co-edited, in 2000, the book 10+10, a publication that made a cartography of recent history (1990-2000) and of events to come (2000-2010).
[2] – Atelier Real (“home” of RE.AL, the pioneering structure of New Portuguese Dance) closed its doors in 2019 because of the intense gentrification that took over Lisbon at the time and after losing state support in 2015.
[3] – “[…] looking past into the future, in a seeing so intense it falls out of sight”, p. 194, Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation / Brian Massumi
[4] – Considering the glaring deficit in the processes of registration, preservation, and dissemination of practices associated with Portuguese contemporary dance, looking at Real Time Composition as “heritage” is a political gesture of the utmost importance.

Real-Time Composition

Real Time Composition is a theoretical and practical tool that studies, problematizes and systematizes the experience of collective decision, using the fields of improvisation and composition in contemporary dance as a privileged territory of experimentation.



Real Time Composition has been developed and systematized by João Fiadeiro since 1995. It emerges from the need he felt, at the beginning of his career, to create a system of principles and premises to be used with his collaborators in the process of choreographing. A tool that would prevent the group from falling into the trap of hierarchical conventions between author and performer (producing vertical logics of organization) but also, at the same time, recognizing that horizontal forms of collaboration do not necessarily generate balanced, sustained, and fair relationship formats, as they are easily “captured” by implicit power structures (starting with those that each one of us carries).


In this sense, Real Time Composition suggests an alternative collective practice: neither “vertical” nor “horizontal”, but “diagonal”. A meta-stable system situated where decisions are adjusted and adapted to the present time and context, thus reducing the influence of decisions made having only past experiences or future expectations as reference.


Although Real Time Composition was developed within the framework of João Fiadeiro’s personal investigation, soon it “got out of his hands” and asserted itself as a tool to explore dramaturgical writing modalities in dance, being studied, developed, and used by several artists and researchers. Since 2005 it has been affirming itself in the territory of research, in the broader sense, thus extending its sphere of interest and applicability beyond the borders of dance and even art.


Object of Study

Real Time Composition’s “object of study” is the space-time interval that arises when the experience we all have with linear time is interrupted and suspended by an accident or an incident. This creates a “gap” in the “timeline,” creating a void in the sense of continuity. RTC takes advantage of that pause to gain time (from time) and, in that in-betweenness, turn the interruption into an interval. It is in that interval – between the moment we collide with what affects us and the moment we relate to its possible manifestations – that the gestures of imagining, disorganizing, and reorganizing our patterns of perception can take place.


This exploration does not intend to stop the movement, nor to focus our attention to the point of objectifying it. Exploring the interval does not mean proposing an experience of contemplation or passivity. What this approach proposes is that we can exercise the ability to move our perception toward the periphery of the event, in the direction of the infinitesimal relations that run through us. It suggests we find the movement within the pause. To find time within time. To experience the experience of stopping, noticing and caring.


This gesture (of pause, care, and attention) is nothing more than an exercise of getting involved in the present, where, in its interior, an expanded time moves, simultaneously “not anymore” and “not yet”. A non-linear time, lived like a Möbius strip, where inside and outside, before and after, shape and strength, get mixed and intertwined.


+info: website of João Fiadeiro 


João Fiadeiro (1965) belongs to the generation of artists who emerged in the late eighties in Portugal and gave rise to Nova Dança Portuguesa [New Portuguese Dance], a movement highly influenced by the Judson Dance Theater in America and New Dance scene in Europe.


Between 1990 and 2019 he was Atelier RE.AL’s artistic director, a venue that played a major role in the development of contemporary dance and trans-disciplinary initiatives in Portugal, both within art and between art, science and society. Among the projects organized by this association, the LAB/Moving Projects (1992-2006), a work-in-progress platform from emergent artists; “Restos, rastos e traços” (Leftovers, tracks and traces) and “G.host” (2009-2011), two residency programs focused on documentation practices for contemporary art; and the project AND_Lab (2011-2014), a research laboratory working on the relationship between ethics, aesthetics and politics, are among the initiatives that had the biggest impact in the community.


João Fiadeiro has toured extensively throughout Europe, North America and South America with his solo and group works. His pieces navigate in-between disciplines (performance, dance and theater), contexts (theaters, museums or site-specific) and formats (choreographies, happenings or lecture-performances), in an attempt to maintain a “radical sensitivity” towards the present and remain vigilant against any form of stagnation or loss of critical discourse.


Between 1995 and 2003 he collaborated with Artistas Unidos (United Artists), a Lisbon based theater company, where he was responsible for the movement of the actors in pieces from Silva Melo, Shakespeare, Brecht, Goethe, etc.. For this company he also staged plays by Samuel Beckett (Waiting for Godot), Sarah Kane (Psychosis 4’48’’) and Jon Fosse (Nightsongs).


Parallel to his work as a choreographer, theater director and curator, João Fiadeiro studied and practiced intensively Contact-Improvisation in the 90’s which led him to pursue and systematize his own research on improvisation under the designation of Real Time Composition. This research, which started as a tool to support his own creative practices, has since been used by researchers from art and science (coming from fields as diverse as anthropology, complex systems sciences or economy), as a theoretical-practical platform to study decision-making, representation and collaboration. This work has led him to teach extensively in different independent venues in Europe and South America (Brasil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile) and to lead workshop sessions in the most important master programs and schools in Europe that relate to contemporary dance like PACAP/Forum Dança; EXERCE Master, MA in Arts Practice and Visual Culture at Rainha Sofia Museum; SoDA MA Program; Performing Studies at the Hamburg University; Amsterdam Master of Choreography; Master of Theatre DasArts; a.pass_advanced performance and scenography studies; MA Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki; Villa Arson; Centre National de la Danse, etc.


The Real Time Composition tool has since expanded its application outside the artistic field with initiatives like “Soft Skills for Hard Decisions”, designed in collaboration with the economist António Alvarenga and applied in human resources departments of foundations; or the discipline “Social Stigmergy” designed for the PhD program at ISCTE University in Lisbon with the complex system scientist Jorge Louçã.


In 2018 João Fiadeiro published his book “Anatomy of a Decision” where he synthesized his life long research on Real Time Composition and in 2019 co-curate (with Romain Bigé) the exhibition Drafting Interior Techniques at Culturgest Gallery, the first retrospective look taken at Steve Paxton work and legacy.

Research platforms

These research platforms result from multiple experiences, conversations and exchanges with several people over the years, of which we highlight, among others, David-Alexandre Guéniot, Rui Catalão, Joris Lacoste, Fernanda Eugénio, Cláudia Dias, Márcia Lança, Daniel Pizamiglio or Carolina Campos. As they are framed here, they are mainly due to an intensive work session in early 2023 between João Fiadeiro, António Alvarenga, Liliana Coutinho, Paula Caspão and Alice Godfroy (artists, curators and thinkers who have a deep knowledge of Fiadeiro’s work), who met to reflect, in an open way, on ways to study, transmit and think on creation from the framework offered by Real Time Composition.

etc.ctr.et al

Study, Transmission and Creation in Real Time Composition and other related practices


“etc” is an acronym for “estudo, transmissão e criação,”(study, transmission, and creation) but it can also be understood as an abbreviation of the Latin expression “et cetera,” where et corresponds to the conjunction “and”, and cetera corresponds to “the rest.” The acronym “ctr” is for “Composição em Tempo Real” (Real Time Composition) and “et al” means “and others”. These three acronyms, when placed in relation, create new meanings, directions, and sensations beyond those they carry if presented alone.


The way the “head” of Real Time Composition Works is in the very name of this study center: to claim that there are multiple directions behind (under, in front of, and to the sides of) the meanings we give to things. Nothing is (only) what it seems. Everything spreads, gets mixed, and intertwines. Experience is, “by default”, oblique, unbalanced and chaotic. By domesticating it, we develop a false sense of control and security that risks rendering us insensitive and anesthetizing us.


JF: (…) if we extract the “knowing” or the “habit” from what we call “happening,” what remains are rhythms and vibrations. That’s very much how a baby relates to the world. They see some spots, they hear some sounds, they feel some temperatures… things appear and disappear… there are some rhythms, some vibrations… (…) Before we fall into the illusion that we control time, space, or imagination, that’s what there was: rhythms and vibrations. Then, when the child realizes that, for example, an object shaped like a chair has the word “chair” associated with it, then he can say: “chair”. Whoever is around thinks he wants to sit down, and they give him the chair. If the child sits down, all is lost (laughs). If he picks up the chair and puts it on his head, or tucks himself into it, there is still hope (more laughs)… because even though he “played the knowing game” by calling the chair a “chair,” he was really just drawing attention to “some” object so that he could explore the potential that the “thing” has.

LC: The potential of being able to come to identify and relate…

JF: Yes, relating, exploring. It’s that exploration that makes it possible to postpone “knowing.” We know that learning is something that happens by repetition and insistence… for the first few times you still burn yourself exploring with fire, after these few times you don’t anymore. The neuronal maps will “specialize” and create patterns. The world stops being so dangerous but at the same time you stop exploring and discovering new relations. What I do, in my laboratory practice as an artist and researcher, is to find ways to “artificially” deactivate what I know beforehand (culture, memory, language…), so I can make myself available to the rhythms and vibrations that surround us, that have always been there, but for which we have developed a kind of blindness.[5]


[5] Excerpt from a yet unpublished conversation between João Fiadeiro and Liliana Coutinho, researcher, curator, and profound connoisseur of João Fiadeiro’s history and trajectory.



etc.ctr.et al’s program will be developed slowly throughout 2023 and will be launched in the first quarter of 2024.

It will feature a set of activities that will relate different modes and planes of relationship with Real Time Composition. Some will be more durational and immersive; others more concentrated and intensive; others yet more punctual and uncommitted. Some proposals will have in mind artists-thinkers who are interested in improvisation processes, others will be more directed for the ones who are interested in composition processes, and others yet for the ones who want to dedicate themselves to the “study of the study” itself.

Summer workshops


Opening its pilot activity, in the last two weeks of August 2023, etc.ctr.et al will organize two Real Time Composition workshops led by João Fiadeiro.

Workshop I – Introduction to the Real Time Composition practice
21 to 25 of August

This Real Time Composition introductory workshop is intended for artists-researchers with experience in improvisation (in dance, performance, or theater). It is open to anyone but we will prioritise applications from those who have not yet had contact with João Fiadeiro’s Real Time Composition.

Workshop II / Immersive Real Time Composition Practice
August 28th to September 1st | Invited guest: Márcia Lança

This immersive Real Time Composition workshop is directed to artists-researchers with previous experience with João Fiadeiro’s Real Time Composition.


(des)fiar[6]: Real Time Composition study group


According to the dictionary “to unravel into threads” is one of the possible definitions of desfiar . But it can also mean “to examine, to scrutinize” or “to report minutely”. Fiar, on the other hand, means exactly the opposite: “to reduce or twist any filamentous matter into a thread”. But it can also mean “to trust, to believe”.


It is also a coincidence that “fiadeiro” also comes from the word “fiar”, and it means “man whose job it is to spin”, and it can also refer to “the fire around which the women of the village gather to spin”. The fact that the term “fiadeiro” simultaneously portrays the solo figure or the collective experience around a fire, the image of craft, of village and, above all, of “being around something”, makes the choice of the term (des)fiar absolutely just to name a study center around João Fiadeiro’s body of work.


With (des)fiar we want to create a continuous and long-lasting meeting place, developing the conditions for the emergence of critical reflections within research processes, both around Real Time Composition and artistic research in its broader sense. For this, we will seek to develop regular public platforms for a type of sharing that does not fit into the formats (academic or otherwise) of what we imagine when we imagine “publishing research”. (des)fiar will promote a practice of “performative publishing” that does not understand knowledge production, artistic making, aesthetics, context, or politics as separate communication channels. The concept of publication will be seen here more as an extension of the shared involvement of an investigation, and less as an abstract “external” approach taken after the research process has been completed. In short, the term publication will be understood here in its literal sense, as a transitive verb: to make public.


The epicenter of (des)fiar will be the “Operations Room” (OR)[7], where João Fiadeiro’s main task will be to “set up”, from his personal collection, Real Time Composition’s arch(l)ive. It will also be in this “Operations Room” that João Fiadeiro will promote “one2one” meetings with students and peers and will work Real Time Composition’s practice in its “table” version, and where he will conduct online workshops. There is also the intention to make a monthly podcast, featuring conversations between João Fiadeiro and artist-researchers that, sometimes in a more direct way and sometimes less, use Real Time Composition as a reference tool for their artistic practice.


[6] – TN the term is impossible to translate because João Fiadeiro plays with the various meanings that the word can have in Portuguese. | Desfiar (meaning): To make threads out of; To Unravel (into threads); To examine, to scrutinize; To explain or analyze thoroughly. | Fiar (meaning): To have faith or trust in; To take responsibility for; to reduce or twist any filamentous matter until form a thread.
[7] – “Sala de Operações” (SdO) in its original version.

Other activities

RTC Open Sessions


From the 22nd of September, Friday, we will have a Real Time Composition session open to the community.

Facilitated by João Fiadeiro, Márcia Lança, Cláudia Dias, Carolina Campos and/or Daniel Pizamiglio.

These sessions will be free, will have a “jam” format (with facilitation, but without guidance) and will happen every week.

They will function as a platform for anyone – artist or not – who is curious about this tool.


Participation is free, just turn up!

1st meeting (des)fiar


(des)fiar study group’s first working meeting

Between the 4th and the 8th of September, we will organize (des)fiar’s first work meeting, through a restricted call directed to invited artists and researchers with experience in Real Time Composition, who want to go further (and deeper) in the study of this tool. The idea is that this first meeting works as an incubator of ideas and proposals, where the wishes of the various participants will be heard so that, based on the identified strengths, a sketch of (des)fiar program can be drawn. The goal of this meeting is to “build” a map of desires, tendencies, and temptations of the present participants so that we can, together, create a constellation of situated work teams that will give body to (des)fiar study group.