Title Image

Real Time Composition
Open Sessions

Real Time Composition
Open Sessions

Mondays, from 6pm to 8pm


!! Attention!
In June there will be sessions in the following days: 3, 17 and 24.

Facilitated by João Fiadeiro, Márcia Lança,

Cláudia Dias, Carolina Campos and/or Daniel Pizamiglio

During the period in which REAL (a structure run by João Fiadeiro from 1990-2019) ran Atelier Real, open sessions were organised for the community to practice Real Time Composition, free of charge. These were unpretentious sessions, somewhere between a jam and a master class, which had an important impact on the community of artists at the time and on research into (and around) this tool. They were also very important sessions as a meeting place and for the creation of professional and emotional networks that continue to this day.


Over the next few months, as part of the programme of activity developed within the framework of Forum Dança’s Resident Research Artist position, we will replicate these sessions to share our experience, but also to allow ourselves to be contaminated by discourses, perspectives and practices outside our comfort zone. These sessions are open to anyone – artist or non-artist, with or without experience of improvisation, with a background in practice or theory – as long as the premises and principles of this practice arouse curiosity.


“The ‘object of study’ of Real Time Composition is the interval that emerges when linear time is interrupted and the sense of continuity is suspended (via accident, incident or ‘just because’). The space that opens up as a result of this interruption is where Real Time Composition research takes place. Within this space, time has that rare quality of being simultaneously ‘no more’ and ‘not yet’. Within this space, time is not linear (or even circular), but ‘twisted’ (like the topological surface of the ‘Möbius Tape’), governed by laws that do not respect the conventional notions of before and after, inside and outside or far and near.”

João Fiadeiro

Participation is free, just show up!


Select each of the sections below to find out more.

*Real Time Composition

* Real Time Composition is a term used in a wide range of artistic interactions and contexts, most commonly in the field of electronic music and its relationship with computer science. In the field of contemporary dance, it is used by many artists as a synonym for the practice of “improvisation” (a term somewhat “hijacked” by common sense as an arbitrary, disorganized or chaotic experience), in order to emphasize the complexity and rigor involved in the act of improvising, especially when presented publicly.


When João Fiadeiro began his research into improvisation in the 1990s, the expression most often used to claim this rigor was “instant composition”. Intuitively João Fiadeiro decided to adopt the notion of ” real time composition” to designate his research, because it was the term that best corresponded to the experience of expanded, distended and plastic time that he had when “colliding” with the unknown, whether when improvising or composing. He was later able to better formulate this resistance to the term “instantaneous” when he realized that an important part of the hypothesis he put forward as a researcher, on the performer’s experience with time, was based on the premise that the idea of an “instant” is made by the human being, who has decided, out of interest (and profit) that an instant is the thinnest slice of time and that successive instants replace the previous one.


More recently, by accessing the writings of authors who think about the concept of time, this reasoning has gained even more ground. In particular through the formulation of “operative time” that Giorgio Agamben uses in “The Time That Remains”. To defend his hypothesis, Agamben relies on the linguist Gustave Guillaume (1883-1960) who states (in his book Temps et Verbe) that “all mental experience, however rapid [it may be], requires a certain amount of time, which may be very brief, but is no less real”. What Guillaume defines as “operative time” (and João Fiadeiro as “real time”) is exactly “the time that the mind uses to realize an image-time”. Agamben complements this reasoning when he says that “a careful examination of the phenomena of language shows that languages organize their verbal systems not according to the preceding linear scheme (…) but through the reference of the constructed image in the operative time of its construction.” Operative time (or, as Fiadeiro would say, “real time”) “is neither the line – representable but unthinkable – of chronological time, nor the instant – equally unthinkable – of its end, and even less a segment extracted from chronological time (…). It is rather the operative time that urges on chronological time and works and transforms it from within, time that we need in order to bring time to an end – in this sense: the time that remains.”


When discussing the term “instant” or “real time” to designate the type of “improvisation” João Fiadeiro researches, he is not referring to the time shared between improviser and spectator, but to the internal time of the performer, in the management of the experience that mediates the identification, circumscription and processing of stimuli; the selection and choice of relation possibilities; and their consequent manifestation in the form of gesture and action.


João Fiadeiro’s use of the expression Real Time Composition to describe his research and practice must be understood in the light of this reflection.

João Fiadeiro

Forum Dança | PACAP 5 - João Fiadeiro
João Fiadeiro © Ana Viotti

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.