52 Portraits

Research output: Practice-Based and Non-textual ResearchPerformance



52 Portraits is a practice based research investigating those modes of collaborative practice and embodied knowledge in dance which might take place across what are usually perceived as aesthetic or hierarchical divides. The project asks what the choreographic might be and in which ways choreographic knowledge, thinking and embodiment might be shared in common or not, between contradictory origins and methodologies. The project invited 52 individuals or duos to make a short gestural dance in response to a minimal formal invitation, filmed by Hugo Glendinning and overdubbed by composer Matteo Fargion with songs drawn from verbatim interview, detailing autobiographical and artistic/philosophical/political thoughts. The diverse group of participants invited had all worked in some way before with the three curators of the project, reflecting the often unacknowledged but complex web of relationships and cross currents of influence that exist within the ecology of the dance field. The films were released one a week throughout 2016, and are now touring as a two hour cinematic screening. 52 Portraits proposes an accumulative collaboration which privileges individual difference and autonomy. It seeks to fulfil the demand of performance theorist Gurur Ertem that 'art go visiting'.

Ramsay Burt has written the following of this collective diversity of the 52 Portraits project, as part of his ongoing dance performance blog: 'Is it a portrait or a self-portrait? Each sitter performs as her or himself, they have suggested the music, and supplied bits of their autobiography. But the lyrics are sung in the third person. The movement material is presumably their own but seems to come from a repertoire of moves that are common to all the portraits and have resonances with previous pieces by Burrows and Fargion – like the video Hands and the performance Both Sitting Duet. Maybe they are assisted self-portraits.' 

Professor Ramsay Burt, School of Arts, De Montfort University



- Project website: www.52portraits.co.uk

- Production credits:

Choreography and performance: Kwame Asafo-Adjei, Flora Wellesley Wesley, Hetain Patel, Betsy Gregory, Robery Cohan, Antonio de la Fe, Gillie Kleiman, Tim Etchells, Vicki Igbokwe, Stefan Jovanović, Marquez&Zangs, Siobhan Davies, Kloe Dean, Namron, Eleanor Sikorski, Botis Seva, Dan Daw, Claire Cunningham, Wendy Houstoun, Jonzi D, Alexandrina and David Helmsley, Brian Bertscher, Lucy Suggate, Andros Zins-Browne, Zenaida Yanowsky, Theo Clinkard, Chrysa Parkinson. William Forsythe, Mette Edvardsen, Crystal Pite, Mette Ingvartsen, Seke Chimutengwende, Emilyn Claid, Igor&Moreno, Liz Aggiss, Alesandra Seutin, Ramsay Burt, Deborah Hay, John Scott, Annie Hanauer, Mary Prestige, Kenneth Tharp, Daniel Linehan, Gaby Agis, Eleanor Bauer, Karl Jay-Lewin, Betsy Field and Mary O'Mahoney, Katye Coe, Chisato Minamura, Colin,Simon&I, Claire Croizé and Étienne Guilloteau, Francesca Fargion, Hugo Gledinning, Jonathan Burrows and Matteo Fargion

Music performance: Francesca Fargion and Matteo Fargion

Direction: Jonathan Burrows

Music: Matteo Fargion 

Film: Hugo Glendinning

Production: Lucy Clarke Bishop for Sadler's Wells Theatre

Commission: Sadler's Wells Theatre

Timescale: one portrait released each week throughout 2016

Online viewing figures: 58.3k unique visitors

Live cinematic screenings: 

Light Moves Festival Limerick, Ireland, 3rd November 2016 

Sadler's Wells Theatre London, 25th January 2016

Xing Bologna, Italy, 28th/29th January 2018 

Pact-Zollverein Essen, Germany 3rd February 2018

Hebbel Theater Berlin, Germany, 4th March 2018

Black Box Teater Oslo, Norway, 11th/12th March 2018

Kunstfestspiele Hannover, Germany, 20th May 2018

Artium Basque Centre-Museum of Contemporary Art Vitoria, Spain, 22nd November 2018

International Dance Theatre Festival, Lublin, Poland, November 16th 2019

S’ALA, Sassari, Italy, 2020 (date to be confirmed)

- See also Jonathan Burrows, Towards a Minor Dance, by Daniella Perazzo Domm, published by Palgrave MacMacmillan, 2019

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Dance Performance Collaboration

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