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by Rafael Alvarez / BODYBUILDERS

Next dates // TPAM 2018 Yokohama > Japan

16 February 2018, TPAM - Performing Arts Meeting, BUKATSUDO Hall, Yokohama

Première Tokyo //

7 October 2017, Ryogoku Bear

21 October 2017, BuOY Arts Centre


Première Lisbon //
1,2 e 3 November 2017 > Festival Temps d'Images, Negócio / ZDB

IN THE RANGE OF A WAVE is revealed through a silent dialogue of listening and observation. The aesthetic experience of travelling materializes itself in a choreographic and visual composition of the invisible, the unspeakable, the immanent, the ephemeral, the fragile and the intuitive. On this first journey to Tokyo, I assemble a collection of images and imagery crossing references and impressions, works and narratives around the country of the rising sun. From my exotic gaze I let myself be guided by the accumulation of common places and clichés of a certain (western) image of Japan and simultaneously diving into a sea of discoveries and revelations swallowed by the megalopolis of Tokyo. From detail to ritual, from the symbolic to the abstract, I find myself in the fragility, ephemerality and potency of the materials that I propose to explore - body and paper.

A first initial single image generates the will for the creation of this solo, remaining invisible but present throughout the project - 'The Great Wave of Kanawaga', iconic work of Hokusai created in 1830 and reproduced from the mid -1870s through a series of lithographs using the traditional Japanese print technique known as Ukiyo (literally, "floating world"), which led to a time of great visibility and export of Japanese art in the western world and reciprocally, a contamination and influence of Western art in Japanese art.

In this floating world nothing is too small or insignificant to hold our attention. This solo of shadows, evocations and masks whose Hokusai wave allows to embody is an invitation to travel and stand still at the same time.

The re-appropriation of Hokusai's wave draws a symbolic and factual relationship between the cities of Lisbon, Paris and Tokyo highlighting a set of facts that involve this work and its dissemination in the West. Especially for the impact and influence this work has had on the work of the French Impressionists, on Debussy's musical work (La Mer) or on the fascination Baudelaire reveals for the work / author in question. Along with the fact that the first presence of Westerners - the nanban (the primitive and barbarian of the south) in the region of Japan is due to a Portuguese vessel lost in the seas of the Japanese bay. The Hokusai wave proves to be revolutionary in part by the choice of less usual colours in the Japanese (Prussian blue) context and by the development of the theme and genre of the landscape through its ukiyo-e (floating worlds), becoming one of the first globalized images, like in Pop Art reproduced to exhaustion but still special and introspective. Another interesting perspective in the analysis of this image is the presence of two opposing readings - the Eastern view, the sublimation of the omnipresence of Nature present in Buddhist philosophy and the balance of the vital energy of connection between heaven and earth. Inversely, the Western view - the revelation of the imminence of the catastrophe and the disaster and the heroism of the human who tries to conquer and manipulate nature.

These materials and sources of research feed the subtext of this solo contributing to the development of a contemporary look at these historical implications, calling for the exploration of new possibilities, new dramaturgies and new connections of these images leading to a conceptual and symbolic movement line.

The project is a result of a Portuguese-French-Japanese collaboration and comprises a group of artistic residences were the creative process has been developed throughout 2017. The creative residencies were initiated in Tokyo and Paris followed by Porto, Lisbon and Montemor-o-Novo culminating in a closure residency and presentation in Tokyo (October'17), leading to the premiere of the show in Lisbon (November '17) as part of the Temps d'Images Festival program and at Augusto Cabrita Municipal Auditorium in Barreiro (Portugal). This project marks the 20 years of the Dance professional career of the choreographer/dancer Rafael Alvarez being the first large scale production of BODYBUILDERS in its first year of activity. The project also includes the implementation of complementary activities to the solo piece:


  • Workshops for youth and senior participants (Lisbon and Barreiro);

  • Cycle of Meetings/Masterclasses directed to students of artistic higher education around the creative project of the show, co-organized in partnership with Escola Superior de Dança – Polytechnic Institute of Lisbon; University of Évora - School of Arts; Superior School of Art and Design Caldas da Rainha;

  • Photo exhibition. This photography project (developed with the sponsorship of FUJI Film Portugal) tracks and records the research/creation periods in Japan as a collection of documentation/logbook images. This collection of +100 images (Instax Mini Photos) captures impressions and movements of anonymous characters in dialogue with the space and flow of the city of Tokyo.


The activities complementary to the solo creation are developed from the thematic universe by proposing alternative ways to mediate the show and its content with its different audiences, bringing the work and its authors closer to the local communities. Exploring in particular the links, dialogues, bridges, distances and proximities between the diversity of places, cultures and people involved in the project. Approaching, distancing, crossing, accumulating, multiplying, cross-cutting issues, whose Hokusai's wave allows to guess/embody.

By combining different local, national and international partnerships with host, programming/co-production and dissemination structures, which in articulation with the artistic and technical team involved allowed an effective pursuit of the objectives and activities proposed by the project at an national (Portugal) and international level (Paris and Tokyo).

Artistic direction, choreography, set, video and costume design // Rafael Alvarez

Performed by // Rafael Alvarez

Artistic collaboration (video performance) // Kotomi Nishiwaki

Technical direction and light design  // Nuno Patinho

Management and Production // BODYBUILDERS | Rafael Alvarez

Production Assistance// João Leitão

Press // Mafalda Simões

Assistance // Carlos M. Marques

Stage Photography // Elisabeth Vieira Alvarez

Audiovisual Stage Registration and Promotional Video // Vitor Rosário

Graphic design // Paulo Guerreiro

Co-production // Festival Temps d'Images/Duplacena and BODYBUILDERS

Support in Residency // Micadanses (Paris), Le Carreau du Temple (Paris), Ko Murobushi Archive (Tokyo), Ryogoku Bear (Tokyo), Teatro Municipal do Porto . Campo Alegre (Porto), Negócio/ZDB (Lisboa), EIRA (Lisboa), Espaço do Tempo (Montemor-o-Novo)

Support / Hosting venues // Negócio/ZDB (Lisboa), Ryogoku Bear (Tokyo), BuOY (Tokyo), Auditório Municipal Augusto Cabrita (Barreiro)

Partnerships //

School of Arts - University of Évora, Higher School of Arts and Design - Caldas da Rainha, Higher School of Dance / Lisbon Polytechnic Institute


Sponsorship Exhibition // FUJIFILM Portugal


Support for Internationalization // Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Project co-financed by Government of Portugal – Ministry of Culture/Directorate-General for the Arts

Special thanks to //

Kimiko Watanabe, Lang Craighill, Hideo Sekino/Rakudoan, Tânia Guerreiro, Bénédicte Goinard, Carlos Marques

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IN THE RANGE OF A WAVE by Rafael Alvarez >

Tokyo Residency - 1st Period / April 12 - May 4, 2017

Residency Notes #1


My task was from the beginning of this project to re-appropriate myself from Hokusai's image of the 'Big Wave' and from there elaborate different connections and dialogues...instead during this first month of residency in Japan, I was swallowed by the big wave of Tokyo city and its movements, sounds, rhythms, images and people and it has been an amazing and memorable experience. As the French impressionists and Debussy and Baudelaire got inspired and influenced by Hokusai's work, I have been collecting in my body impressions of this impressive city. From my twisted western eyes I dive freely in all the clichés and let myself go in this wave. It has been a wave of good feelings, rich and diverse experiences and happy and fruitful encounters. An inspirational month that will shape and feed the process of creating this solo until its premiere in November.

The gentleness, the smile, the civism, the sensibility and attention for the detail of all the people (strangers included) that I have encounter in this first trip to Japan made this month of creative residency here in Tokyo during Sakura Season (Blooming Cherries) an amazing experience contributing for turning the project "In the range of a wave" a very special, fulfilling and productive creative experience. Although Japan is a society full of rules, rituals and artificiality, it is also a society full of diversity and multiple identities - here all conjunctions, coexistences and mixtures seem possible. There is a simultaneous charm between the preservation of the traditional culture and a fascination for the future and the technological that appears to be very singular (and apparently contradictory) in a strongly capitalist society but where, despite everything, there is no normative logic subjected to the western monopoly creating possibilities for a kind of resistance and alternative. Although I do not speak this language I recognize in these people and in this culture(s) and in the diversity of everyday life in Tokyo a language that I feel close to and with which I feel comfortable and identify myself - despite the intense movement and traffic of people and the sometimes mind-boggling speed, here in Tokyo there is also time to breathe, smile, wait, look at the trees and listen to the birds (maybe the old Europe still has time to see a possible future here).


This first month of residency in Tokyo couldn't be possible without the financial support for Internationalization from Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (Portugal) and also with the support from the local organizations here in Tokyo - Ryoguko Bear studio and Ko Murobushi Archive, specially with the help and collaboration of Kimiko Watanabe (Ko Murobushi Archive/Shy) and Lang Craighill (Ryoguko Bear) to whom I am deeply greatfull for their input since the beginning - Obrigado!


This adventure just began. Prochaine arrêt > Residency II in Paris!

Tokyo see you in October!

Arigatô gosaimus!

Rafael Alvarez

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