quarta-feira, julho 05, 2006

Ballet Gulbenkian: um ano depois

July 05th, 2005. A day like the rest of the days in Gulbenkian Ballet company. Rehearsals, talks on the corridors, everything was going smoothly. And then the news came. The ballet company had just ended a few hours ago. In that moment all rehearsals from the future choreographies should end, the commissions were suspended (paid for but never premiered), no more tours, no more shows. From that moment on, Ballet Gulbenkian was part of the history. There would only be time now to re-arrange the institution, take care of indemnifications, change the shift of things.

Suddenly, the Portuguese artistic milieu was facing the loss of an irreplaceable heritage of modern and contemporary dance. Reactions of incredibility came from all over the world... but then came the shock and the indignation. How could a forty-year project, that had done so much for dance in Portugal, be put to end? The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (CGF) explained that the decision was part of a larger redefinition of its strategy, intended to improve the support to dance through a more “active and interventionist set of actions, much more vivid” than the permanence of a resident company. Though it did not came as a total surprise – since the early 90’s, with the growth of the dance market, there had been talks about the position of Ballet Gulbenkian in relation with the emerging projects and companies, some of which founded and directed by former Ballet dancers, like Vera Mantero, João Fiadeiro, Francisco Camacho, Margarida Bettencourt, Olga Roriz or Vasco Wellemkamp – it is nonetheless true that everyone felt the extinguish as a huge artistic loss. Some acknowledge the Foundation’s right to apply its capital as they wish, and that the forty year era was over and one should be thankful for; it is known how expensive it is to maintain such a company these days. Others felt more comfortable understanding the Foundation’s reasons and trusted it could have an important action in supporting independent projects, new choreographers, research and advancement in dance.

The problem was, and still is, understanding to what extent has the Foundation actually redefined its strategy: how could a punctual programme replace a dance company that had the means and the energies to regularly present a narrow relation between repertoire and the new forms of thinking about dance, namely through the invitation of independent choreographers stage directors, nationally and abroad, and also starting a close relation with the Portuguese contemporary dance field as, for instance, the last artistic director of the Ballet, Paulo Ribeiro.

In fact the news was only a surprise for those who considered eternal the strategies of an institution, without the awareness that those correspond to a set of question/presentation of answers for the problems of the surrounding world. And also, it was only a complete surprise to those who didn’t wanted (or weren’t aware) of the discourse of the Foundation itself that in the last years had ended some important projects, including the ACARTE Service (the performing arts centre), the Contemporary Music Encounters or had reduced significantly the finance of the artistic punctual projects.

Presented as a contribute to «the development and reinforcement of the dance […] stimulating the Professional specialized formation, the internationalization of the Portuguese choreographic creation, the qualification of the sector’s structures and the exchange with the international circuit of the dance in the aesthetic, technical and pedagogical plan» (in the brochure), this new programme for dance was shown only seven months after its announcement, in January this year, still without a budget (the decisions will be considered individually, they said). This raised a sense of disbelieve and strangeness among the artists. It was accused of vagueness even though it intended to serve areas for which the professionals were “demanding” a close attention from the State: formation/researching, the invisible work of the structures and internationalization.

Dance was already used to be seen as the poor relative on the financial distribution in the support programmes of the Ministry of Culture. The end of Gulbenkian Ballet only came to contribute to the already fragile economical situation in the dance field. Even though there are cases of success, it was difficult to understand how could the Administration make such a positive portrait of the context (we are no longer necessary, they said), if there were companies struggling to find others ways of funding, some of them had started developing international strategies in other to gain sustain and others were simply reducing the complexity of the projects in order to keep the doors open.

Truth is after all this time we haven’t yet understood the benefits of the change. Who really won something? Not the public, nor the artists. The Foundation? Maybe. But certainly not in terms of credibility. At the end of that same July, the Ballet dancers got together for a final presentation without the consent of the Administration. More than one thousand people waited an entire day to wave goodbye to the company. One year after that hot day in July and six months after the presentation of the programme for dance, most of the dancers of the Ballet Company have already started working in other places and received the indemnifications that were guaranteed then, but the shock hasn’t yet dissapeared. Maybe what the Foundation is provoking is the existence of a wide and honest dialogue concerning the place of dance in national creation. Maybe. To many questions and so many doubts for so little answers.


[versão integral do texto publicado na revista alemã Ballet-Tanz de Julho 06]

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4 comentários:

Anónimo disse...

O que pode ter levado um homem como Rui Vilar - que fundou a Culturgest - a destruir o Ballet Gulbenkian?
Que pode levar um homem culto a destruir um bem da comunidade que ele nunca na vida poderá reconstruir?
Que pode levar um velho e sábio a deitar para o lixo uma experiência de 40 anos que continuava viva e a renovar-se, e que não há dinheiro que permita reconstruir em pouco tempo?
Que pode levar um homem que conhece o mundo a destruir a única companhia portuguesa daquela dimensão com um mínimo de verdadeira projecção internacional?
Mais a mais daquela maneira tão cruel, com tanto desprezo por aquelas pessoas que se davam de corpo e alma?
Passou um ano e assim passaram ao esquecimento as falácias do «modelo mais americano», da «estrutura mais moderna», das «outras formas de apoio», e demais conversa de chacha de gestor de topo.
E eu continuo sem perceber porque foi destruído o Ballet Gulbenkian.
Mas a Fundação, essa nunca mais será para mim o que foi. Aquilo cheira-me a cemitério que tresanda. E é um cheiro que não passa.

Carlos a.a. disse...

E eu, estimado(a) Anonimus, continuo sem perceber porque é que o Estado, que subsidia tanta coisa, não albergou o que a Gulbenkian rejeitou!
Para todos os efeitos a FCG é uma instituição privada à qual muito devemos, enquanto que ao Estado podemos e devemos exigir que defenda e suporte tudo o que, com bom senso, tiver qualidade e nos representar superlativamente, como é o caso do extinto Ballet Gulbenkian.

Anónimo disse...

Very nice site!
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