Prodigal Sons

Words: Patrícia Barnabé

Daniel Costa Neves

director of photography, Berlin

He studied Still Photography for Advertising and Fashion and began photographing theatre and dance, as well as concerts and creating beautiful portraits of musicians, some of whom he met at the Dead Combo albums. But “there was something ‘magical’ about the works of the great masters of cinematographic photography, seeing how their tools designed the films on which they worked and how they expressed the director’s vision. His work clearly emphasises the drama and suspense (depending on the goal) of a scene, using the light, the camera and a close collaboration with every moving part. I soon knew that this is where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. It just seemed like a natural choice: I could explore new territories in the complex world of the moving visual language.” He took his next steps with the renowned Portuguese director, Edgar Pêra, and worked as an assistant to directors of photography Vilmos Zsigmond (The Deer Hunter, The Black Dahlia), José Luís Alcaine (Volver, Áltame!), Vilko Filac (Underground, Arizona Dream), Javier Aguirresarobe (The Road, Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and David Tattersall (Star Wars: Episodes I, II & III). He started giving classes, and today teaches Cinematography in Documentary Filmmaking, associated with the DocLisboa documentary film festival, founded the Moving Out production company that has received several awards for its documentaries and fiction, and is the director of photography for such well-received films as José e Pilar by Miguel Gonçalves Mendes, Estive em Lisboa e Lembrei de Você by José Barahona, O Verão by João Dias, and many more. He has also worked in advertising and has been responsible for videoclips and video art for musicians, including the video for Dead Combo’s beautiful Povo Que Cais Descalço, and for Mazgani and Joana Sá, as well as for visual artists such as João Pedro Vale, Nuno Cera, Rui Toscano and Pedro Diniz Reis, all the time continuing to win awards. The search for new visual languages ended with him “collaborating with artists, software programmers, activists, researchers and journalists focusing mainly on the role of the image in the world of artificial intelligence”, he said. “It is a field that is in constant and rapid expansion/mutation, and which makes us question each day such things as the ‘sense’, ‘purpose’ and ‘meaning’ of an image today. Within this exploratory universe, I would highlight the work I have developed with the artists Trevor Paglen, Holly Herndon and Mat Dryhurst.”
Instagram: @danielcostaneves
Youtube: littlepeople23

Sara Serpa

singer-songwriter, New York

Photo: Vera Marmelo

Already at the age of seven she was sitting at the piano in the Amateur Music Academy before going on to the Conservatoire. On the way, her mother realised that she sang while playing the piano and put her in a choir, which took her to festivals outside the country and to discover her instrument of choice. The strict nature of piano lessons made her feel like a “strange creature” at the age of 11. She lost interest. She studied Painting at the Fine Arts academy for two years: long enough to realise it was not for her. She then took a course in Social Insertion and Rehabilitation and spent some time working among a number of groups on social issues. “It was very interesting”, she recalls. This social and humanist awareness has shaped some of her current music and performances. Discouraged by “not having contemporary music schools that are more in tune with reality”, she signed up to Hot Clube. “It transformed my life radically: booking rehearsals and sessions, taking part in summer courses.” As she had some musical baggage, she began to outline new goals, to explore jazz, improvisation and experimental, which became her home. “It was a whole language that was new to me, but I thought: ‘I can do more!’.” From then she started using her voice, exploring its different filigrees and hues, and making her own music. “It was an intellectual challenge, and since my instrument is my body, I had to overcome physical obstacles in order to sing.” She convinced her parents that music was her destiny and took a summer course at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and then a master’s at the New England Conservatory of Music before going to New York, where she has lived for the past 12 years. In the city of difference and the possible, she has worked with a number of musicians, including award-winning pianists Danilo Perez and Ran Blake, as well as with Ingrid Laubrock, Erik Frielander, John Zorn, Nicole Mitchell, André Matos and many more. She has also worked with the We Have Voice Collective alongside musicians and thinkers who promote gender equality in the arts. She teaches at The New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music and at New Jersey City University. Her beautiful voice has appeared on nine different records. Recognition, on Biophilia Records, is out in June 2020. It combines film and live music with Zeena Parkins (harp), Mark Turner (saxophone) and David Virelles (piano), a work that traces the historical legacy of colonialism, occupation, racism and their contemporary scars. Immediately recognised by the press, she was voted Number 1 Rising Star — Female Vocalist in the DownBeat Magazine Critics Poll in 2019, while The New York Time has described her as “a singer of silvery poise and cosmopolitan outlook.”
Instagram: @saraserpamusic

Mónica Lima

dancer, New York

Photo: Luís Barra

“Music was what most inspired me to start dancing. When I was just four I loved classical music and, unusually, it was me who asked my parents to send me to ballet lessons.” When she was 10, her family moved from Aveiro to Lisbon, and on her teacher’s advice she auditioned from the National Conservatoire’s School of Dance “a year later than normal and when there was only one vacancy, so my expectations were low, but I got in”. She studied there for seven years, and in her final year attended a lot of auditions and sent videos to other schools and companies in other countries and applied for a grant from the Gulbenkian Foundation, which she got. “I was very lucky.” She was accepted by the Joffrey Ballet School in New York. “It has always been a significant city to me, not only in my specific area, but across all the arts. I decided I should take a risk.” She started on the Joffrey trainee programme, but was looking for a bigger challenge while the school’s young company was looking for three more girls”. It was when she was chosen for the Joffrey Concert Group that she began “to get an idea of what it is like to have the commitments and lifestyle of a professional dancer”. She worked with several choreographers and went on tour for the first time, but her ambition was to make the leap into a professional company. She was 20 when she joined the New York Theatre Ballet. “I remember the audition like it was today. There were a lot of girls and, again, my expectations were very low. I was there because I wanted a contract, but also because I wanted more experience of this kind of audition. I enjoy the process and give little thought to the result, so anything positive that happens is also a nice surprise. Everything good that has happened to me in this career has been by surprise and unexpected.” Her artistic inspirations are Margot Fonteyn, Merce Cunningham and Pina Baush, as well as Matisse, Picasso, Pollock, The Smiths, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith and David Bowie. She loves being in New York and says that the past three years in the company have been “the most demanding on all levels”. She starts every day with a ballet lesson at 10am, and then rehearses until 6pm. After that, if she is not performing in a show, she teaches, “which is my passion”; and if she is performing, “marking out the spacing on the stage, rehearsing with lights and everything that might interfere with my performance. I always like to take 15 minutes to be alone and to concentrate before going on stage.” What moves her is her refuge in the studio where she gets inspired by her colleagues. “I can explore my personality and forget all of the bad things in life.” Once more, it is “a profound passion for the process. I love being on stage, but I like to rehearse, to improve and to overcome my own obstacles.” In the longer term she hopes to explore her more contemporary side and to get more involved in projects that “both help and support socially and economically disadvantaged children and which find solutions to problems.”

Marcelino Sambé

dancer, London

I was four when I first went to the Alto da Loba community centre in Oeiras, “I was naturally inclined towards dance, and it was a class only for girls, they were African stars”, he recalls. “My father had immigrated from Guinea, and the African dances gave me a connection with that continent. I always felt super comfortable dancing, and it was then that I developed a love of dancing and for the stage.” At the age of 10, while still attending this centre, the psychologist Maria Coelho Rosa suggested he audition for the Conservatoire, which he entered without so much as blinking and, from a very early age, stood out for his natural talent and unusual flexibility. “I travelled the world with the Conservatoire. It was hugely important for my development as a dancer and as a person.” While there he met the dancer Telmo Moreira, “which was very important, especially for black dancers. I was a loud and energetic young man, and he helped me concentrate.” He then entered a dance competition in the Algarve, which he won that year and the next. In the third year he competed in the famous Prix Lausanne, which is renowned for connecting schools with students. Through it he won a scholarship to the Royal Ballet School in London. “It was my dream. I always thought my ballet would be Russian, but when I first arrived in London and saw that diversity, I realised that it was there I would grow as a dancer and as a person, with all my heart, and then it is also a city full of artists and close to Lisbon.” Why ballet? “Because one day I saw Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet performed by the National Ballet Company, and my first instinct was to do the splits”, he laughs. “The flexibility came naturally to me, and I felt super connected. It is a very difficult dance that is never perfect. It is a constant struggle.”

He was 16 when he arrived in London to start his course in technique at the Ballet School. “There was a class of 30 boys, all highly talented and different, which inspired me greatly.” Then, at the end of the second year of a three year course the Ballet director offered him a contract: “Wow! At the age of 18 and out of nowhere I had achieved my dream!” He began with solo parts “on the enormous stage at the Opera House you can’t mess up”. His rise through the company was meteoric and was the principle dancer by the end of his fifth year. “It was very quick. Only 5% of dancers make it to the top. That was a year ago, and I still feel this fantastic glory and energy! But I also want to know how to use my position to make a mark in the world of dance, to show what it means to be a male dancer and to bring about greater diversity. It is a huge responsability, but I want to open the theatre doors to whoever wants to come in, to all those people who never believed they could enjoy dance. To be a company director and to connect the world.” With this in mind, he has collaborated with brands like Louboutin, he has launched a “cool and interesting” range of training shoes with the Opera House, and Molton Brown. He has also been on the cover of Attitude magazine and has featured in Town & Country. He continues to win prizes, and Forbes magazine has named him one of the 30 most talented young people in Europe. “I want young people to see me as an example”, he added. In relation to the George Floyd tragedy, Marcelino created “a short video in my studio. I am not good at expressing my feelings with words, so I danced. It has touched a lot of people, which is what I wanted it to do.”
Instagram: @marcisambe

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