Twenty-five years ago, a small group of talented and stubborn choreographers, confronted with the lack of opportunities to show and produce their work, organized the first Danças na Cidade festival at the old Central Tejo powerhouse. Much has changed since then, in the world and in the country, as well as in the city. Central Tejo, to give just one example, is now part of a grand and ambitious cultural complex owned by a privatized electric utility company. But, despite this ever-changing context, Alkantara has remained true to its origins as a place where artists and audiences take risks and let go of their fear of falling, as André Lepecki and Christiane Jatahy illustrate, from either side of the 25-year span. From vertigo to the the abyss.
Twenty-five years calls for commemoration. We've invited three artists from the first Danças na Cidade - João Fiadeiro, Vera Mantero and Aldara Bizarro - to create new work for the festival, and in so doing set the tone for the celebration. We seek explicitly to avoid the trap of Nostalgia (and its close relative, Vanity). Rather, we make use of this moment to take stock and look to the future. It is no coincidence that we present a number of projects that mark commemorations, such as Toshiki Okada's Five Days in March, restaged 15 years after its debut and the US-led invasion of Iraq, or Wagner Schwartz's Transobjeto, set against the 50th anniversary of Tropicalism. They look at how forms, languages, ideas, and convictions - even objects, events, or stories - are constantly transformed and reformulated. This interest in the dynamics rather than the solid state of things is shared, in some way, by all of the artists in our program, and in the programs of the last 25 years, because it is at the core of art that challenges the status quo and has the ambition to be, in the largest, most undogmatic sense of the word, revolutionary.
Twenty-five years and fifteen festivals. Behind these numbers hides another, infinitely more modest commemoration. The 2018 Alkantara Festival will be my fifth and last. This perhaps explains why this is a more personal program, gathering artists who are relentless in their efforts to reformulate questions and redefine languages, and whom I deeply admire.
After the festival, I leave the organization to return to my artistic practice. My role at Alkantara will be taken over by Carla Nobre Sousa and David Cabecinha, who, I'm confident, will set sail for new waters and face the inherent risks. And there is a good chance that 25 years from now, we will still be talking about vertigo and the abyss.