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Dance choreographer to use Gilbert & George artwork in latest production

  • Date: 6 March 2013
  • Area: London, South East
Abreu on his knees on stage

Jean Abreu will use Gilbert & George artswork in his latest production BLOOD. Credit: Paul Scala

An Arts Council Grants for the arts recipient has managed to secure the use of Gilbert & George artwork in his upcoming production which is to appear at the Royal Opera House in London.

Jean Abreu, whose dance company Jean Abreu Dance is based in Luton, will use 25 items from the mesmerising and beautiful collection of Gilbert and George’s Fundamental Pictures, Rudimentary Pictures and New Testamental Pictures created between 1996 and 1998 for his production BLOOD.

It is the first time Gilbert & George’s work has been used in connection with dance and will act as the backdrop of BLOOD where Abreu delves in to the unknown and celebrates the strange beauty of life. It follows one man’s scientific exploration of his flesh and blood, a journey that leads him in search of the composition of his soul.

Italian digital artists Mirko Arcese and Luca Biada will use the Gilbert & George pictures - which depict microscopic images of bodily fluids - and their own visuals to create a series of projections which respond to Abreu’s movements and speech. In addition, fashion designer Richard Nicoll has created a white suit for Abreu that acts as a screen for the projections and Paul Wolinski from the band 65daysofstatic has written the score, the development of which has been supported by the Performance Rights Society for Music Foundation.

The production has received a £90,320 Grants for the arts award which is an Arts Council funding programme that aims to support activities carried out over a set period that engage people in England in arts activities, and help artists and arts organisations in England carry out their work.

Brazilian born choreographer Abreu spent the best part of 2012 researching and developing the key themes for this piece of work which involved rehearsals and preparation at various dance houses in England and overseas. He held informal showings of the research gathered at Dance Digital, Bath Spa University and Jerwood Space and invited guests were encouraged to offer feedback and participate in the development of the work.

Abreu decided to stage three special preview performances of BLOOD at Hat Factory and Bath Spa University. The in depth detail, care and planning Abreu put in to developing this piece of work has provided the perfect platform for it to now go on show to the public.

Abreu choreographed his first work in 2003 and has since toured throughout the UK as well as to the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Brazil, Ukraine, Croatia and Mexico. He produces work that is genuinely marked by his migration experience and influenced by dance elements he brings from his practice in Brazil. The starting point for Jean's choreography begins with his individual movement style but is then filtered through an intense collaborative process which makes each production unique to its chosen subject.

Winner of the prestigious Jerwood Choreography Award (2003), he has been an Associate Artist at The Place, Swindon Dance and The Hat Factory and an Artist-in-Residence at Dance East. He founded Jean Abreu Dance in 2009, with the support of The Hat Factory and Arts Council England East and has emerged from Abreu’s desire to build on the work he has created over 12 years as an independent artist, and establish a dance company that creates innovative performances. His attachment to the Arts Council goes further and has been involved in a number of funded projects in the past three years most notably in connection with the Grants for the arts strand.

INSIDE was one of his standout successes and received funding courtesy of the Arts Council’s Escalator programme of which he also took to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2010 as part of the Escalator East to Edinburgh initiative. Escalator’s main purpose is it to aid the development of new, emerging and established artists across all artforms in the East region. Escalator East to Edinburgh is one of 10 separate strands and provides funding as well as support to successful applicants in preparation for performing at the biggest arts festival in the world. 

Due to his success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, he secured 24 national tour dates which included a sold-out performance at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. Last May he created a short film in collaboration with Red Room Theatre company as part of the Random Acts series curated by the BalletBoyz which has been commissioned by Channel 4.

Jean Abreu, Artistic Director, Jean Abreu Dance, said:
'I am absolutely delighted to have the support of the Arts Council for my ongoing development as a choreographer and for my company Jean Abreu Dance. It gives me confidence that the work I have been doing in the past years is going in the right direction  and it assures me that being a risk-taking artist has a part to play in the UK contemporary dance scene. When I had the instinct to invite the rock band 65daysofstatic to collaborate on my show INSIDE. I had no idea what the end result would be. The Arts Council was there to help me transform that instinct into reality. With the support of Arts Council,  I have made a massive creative leap as a choreographer and an Artistic Director and as I progress in my career, I feel can continue taking risks in my future projects, but now I have some tried and tested experience to count on.'

Catherine Willmore, Relationship Manager, Dance, Arts Council England, East, said:
'Collaborating with such iconic artists as Gilbert & George is a bold new venture for Jean, who is an artist constantly seeking new creative challenges. The support he’s levered over the past few years from a key regional venue such as The Hat Factory and the East region’s talent development scheme Escalator and Arts Councils Grants for the Arts funds have all enabled him to explore new artistic territories and establish support mechanisms, which have led in turn to further recognition and new national partnerships. We can’t wait to see where he wants to go next.'

BLOOD will begin in Colchester at the Lakeside Theatre on 18 May before moving on to The Curve Theatre, Leicester  22 & 23 May and then to London performing on the 27&28 June at Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House. Tickets go on sale for the latter on 12 March 2013 at 10.00am for Friends of Covent Garden and 9 April 2013 at 10.00am for the General Public