‘Cinco Retratos’ [Five Portraits] is a twenty-two minute black and white looping installation made by Gabriela Alcofra and Billy Cowie, completed in 2023. It investigates the possibility of shared territory between fine art portraiture, early film and dance. Each of the portraits uses a single projected photograph superimposed on the face of Gabriela, magically transforming her into five distinct characters. Her micro-choreographed facial movements produce a variety of effects as the projected and real features move in and out of sync with each other. When aligned the composite images appear almost normal but when misaligned take on extreme distortions reminiscent of Francis Bacon portraits and Cubist imagery. The sequences explore ideas of feminine beauty, emotional expression through facial movement, and the concept of perception flipping (where the brain jumps back and forth between two interpretations of an image as happens often in optical illusions).
This presentation at Kronenboden will be the world premiere of the complete work.

Billy Cowie is a Scottish choreographer, writer and composer. He has worked for forty years in the areas of live dance, screen dance and dance installation.

In the last fifteen years he has developed a series of stereoscopic installations where it appears the life size dancers occupy the same space as the viewer. Works in this field include In the Flesh, winner of the Delegates Prize at IMZ in Den Hague, T’es pas la Seule, Edge of Nowhere and Tango de Soledad. He has more recently returned to live choreography with the ground-breaking Art of Movement. This was commissioned by the Kyoto Experiment Festival and includes real and artificial dancers who are indistinguishable from each other and was winner of the Prix du Jury at FCIDC 2013 (Festival Culturel International de Danse Contemporaine) in Algeria. Other live dance commissions which all embed the dancers in rich visual art environments (specially created by the German artist Silke Mansholt) include Art Museum Kochi (Under Flat Sky), Danza Contemporanea de Cuba (Tangos Cubanos and Danzas de Amor que se Fue), Festival B:om in Korea (Shakespeare Needs You), Fondazione Prada Milano (Attraverso I Muri di Bruma).

He has also made several award-winning dance-for-camera films including Motion Control, Anarchic Variations, Beethoven in Love and Tango Brasileiro (in collaboration with Gabriela Alcofra) and was awarded the Pearls Artist Prize at the 2023 Pool Movement Art Film Festival in Berlin.

His book Anarchic Dance was published by Routledge in 2006 and the follow up book Poetic Dance (Danza Poetica in the Spanish version) was released by Idiolect Books in 2021. Poetic Dance attempts to expound his vision for a new choreography that imbues movements with poetic elements such as rhyme, alliteration, metre, and metaphor, and replaces larger scale athletic movement with a subtler and more intimate gestural style often involving text.

He is currently touring his new trilogy Solos Extremos made for the ex-Béjart soloist Luciana Croatto.

Gabriela Alcofra is an artist, body and movement researcher, teacher and director. She has a PhD in Performing Arts from UNICAMP.
Gabriela Alcofra is the research coordinator and lecturer on the Professional Master’s Degree in Performing Arts, the undergraduate programme and the professional technical course at the Célia Helena School of Arts. She is the assistant editor of Olhares magazine, the scientific journal of the postgraduate programme in Performing Arts at ESCH.
She has a PhD and a master’s degree in Performing Arts from UNICAMP, a bachelor’s degree in dance from Faculdade Angel Vianna and an incomplete degree in Social Sciences from UFRJ.
She has been involved in research, production and creation related to the performing arts for over 15 years.
She taught undergraduate Dance courses at Anhembi Morumbi University from 2019 to 2021, and also taught undergraduate Theatre and Physical Education courses in 2020. In the same year, she supervised and directed the research for the Bachelor’s Degree in Dance, with the video dance Collective Individualities, presented via the YouTube platform during the pandemic.