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Tempo | Estudo | Composição | Experimentação | Real 2

“If we observe the spider at work, what it eventually weaves first (…) is not the web; what eventually happens is that the little pearl that it weaved, suspended on the end of the thread carried by the wind, finds a branch [a wall, a corner]. (…) Is it possible to say that the spider has the project of weaving its web? I don’t think so. It’s better to say that the web has the project of being woven.”


Fernand Deligny, O Aracniano


TECER | CTR is a project directed by João Fiadeiro as part of his role as artist-researcher in residency at Forum Dança. Through this platform, João Fiadeiro intends to transmit the study (and study the transmission) of Real Time Composition*, a (theoretical) practice and a (practical) theory that offers itself as a “field”, a place-territory that aims to welcome and host the forces at play in what we conventionally call the present. Within this present and from RTC’s perspective, an expanded time moves, simultaneously “no more” and “not yet”. A non-linear time, experienced like a Möbius band, with no inside or outside, with no before nor after. A time where the shadow, the margin and the fragment have the same prominence as what is in the light, in the center and in the whole. A time when positions are taken so that com3 -positions can take place.


To share Real Time Composition from the potency within the “not-knowing” and not from the power carried by the “knowing”. To share Real Time Composition, reducing the distance and the split between theory and practice, process and product, action and observation, action and procrastination, memory and forgetting, teaching and learning.


This is TECER | CTR ambition as a center for the study and experimentation of Real Time Composition.

1 TECER | CTR is the Portuguese acronym for Weaving Real Time Composition.
2 Time, Study, Composition, Experimentation, Real.
3 In Portuguese, the preposition “com” means “with” and taking a position-with instead of com-posing (arriving with a readymade “with”) is the performer’s main challenge in this practice. Following and repeating this modus operandi will eventually give place to a set of relations between positions (position-with-position-with-position-with- position…) which is how an emergent system can be generated within this practice.


Select each of the sections below to find out more.

Sensitivity to Initial Conditions

In Real Time Composition, the rules of the game are defined as the game is played and not, as in most games (including the game of life) before the game begins. Before beginning the practice of Real Time Composition, what is established as common ground are the premises and principles that govern the game, in a kind of collective ethical commitment where its singularity is circumscribed, its cardinal axes are defined, and the conceptual framework of this practice is established. In general terms, the three premises that guide this commitment can be summarized using simple coordinates:

  1. You don’t explain your move.
  2. You don’t play twice in a row.
  3. You don’t correct the previous move.

Following (and as a result of) these initial restrictions, the game unfolds in a fine and meticulous management by the players, of the doses of repetition and difference that, at each move, are introduced into the system.


Another key concept in this practice is the principle of “non-linearity”. In Real Time Composition, it is always the subsequent action that retroactively establishes the rules of the game (of that game is being played, because as soon as the game in question ends, the rules are instantaneously obsolete). That’s why you can only really talk about a game when you are halfway through. In other words, for most of the time Real Time Composition experience isn’t spent playing the game but finding the game. This encounter takes place a) when, from a position, you establish a relation; and b) when, from that relation you establish an operation. This process takes place in three stages:

  1. The time when a “position” takes place.
  2. The time when a “com (with)” takes place (creating a “positioning-with” type of relationship).
  3. The time when a “positioning-with” takes place (creating a “positioning-with-positioning” type of operation).

The resulting “positioning-with-positioning” operation works like an equation, a fractal that expands into what we call instant, moment or present. Developing a sensitivity to this triad – positioning-with-positioning – is the necessary condition to play Real Time Composition’s game.


The weekly sessions, occasional workshops and annual courses organized by TECER | CTR at Forum Dança aim to multiply the platforms for accessing Real Time Composition, both in terms of intensity and proposed contents.


In 2024 we are offering two workshops – at Easter and in the summer – entitled “Sensitivity to Initial Conditions: an introduction to Real Time Composition”. These are practical workshops, where bodies are invited to act and interact, so although it is open to performers, researchers and artists from any artistic discipline or area of thought (as long as they are curious about the concepts presented in this presentation), there must be a physical predisposition for participation. The main language will be Portuguese. If there are participants who do not speak Portuguese, we will try to organize forms of shared translation within the group. Registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Easter Workshop

From April 1st to 5th, from 2:00pm to 6:00pm

Sensitivity to initial conditions I
An introduction to Real-Time Composition: space as body

Summer Workshop

From August 26th to 30th, from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Sensitivity to initial conditions II
An introduction to Real Time Composition: body as space

Composição em Tempo Real, João Fiadeiro / Forum Dança

CTR open sessions

Every Monday from 6pm to 8pm

Sessions open to the community
With the facilitation of João Fiadeiro, Márcia Lança, Cláudia Dias, Carolina Campos and/or Daniel Pizamiglio.

Intensive CTR program

From September 30th to December 20th 2024


Intensive 12-week research and experimentation programme in Real-Time Composition.

*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.