Ms Vânia Gala

Research project: Choreographies of Disappearance: Fugitive Choreographies and Other (Non)performances in a Time of Hyper-performativity


This research explores the potential of disappearance as a fundamental idea for choreographic performance. I will frame questions related to the potential of withdrawal, opacity and disappearance as fundamental ideas for choreographic performance in the present time. I will start by proposing to unsettle the deeply rooted presentism in choreography in line with the Aristotelian ideal of metaphysics of presence that privileges presence over absence. In doing so I am calling for choreography to consider presence as a mediated, non-stable condition and be opened to the possibilities this can provoke.

By approaching performance from this perspective I aim at filling in gaps resulting from the exploitative caesura between "Nature" and " Society" (Moore, 2015) created by capitalism. For performance to focus on this caesura, on the empty interval between "Nature" and "Society" produced by exploitative capitalism is to open up performance to other alternative performances, knowledges and even concepts often "reduced" (Glissant, 1997) or ignored. Moreover, such an approach can prove productive in revealing performance's generative capacity under a time characterized by hyper presence and a compulsion to perform. As performance becomes a core feature of hyper-capitalism could a refusal to perform or a withdrawal of the performer provide alternatives or critical stance on the way we live today? What other presences, existences, knowledges have been ignored by performance because of the ineherited division of "Nature" and "Society"? How can choreography move away from the aesthetic burden object/subject divide inherited from modernism? Finally, I ask in what ways are we not as performance artists presently endeavouring in visible resistance but accomplices in the present form of capitalism? 

  • Research degree: Practice-based PhD
  • Title of project: Choreographies of Disappearance: Fugitive Choreographies and Other (Non)performances in a Time of Hyper-performativity
  • Research supervisor: Professor John Ó Maoilearca
  • Other research supervisor: Dr Daniela Perazzo Domm


Vânia Gala is a choreographer and researcher. Gala's research, choreographies and "conversational performances" explore the critical potential of (non)performance(s), opacity and withdrawal in choreography in the present time. Her interests lie in experimental practices across performance, dance and theatre with an emphasis on notions of refusal, choreo-thinking, fugitivity, improvisation(s), dissensus and hospitality. Latest performative interventions include the give&take series at Tate Modern and Mesa para Práticas de de Pernas para o Ar at Calouste Gulbenkian Museum (2019). Collaborations as performer have involved Les Ballets C.deLaB., Constanza Macras, Sonia Boyce. As choreographer she collaborated with artists Sonia Boyce, Harold Offeh and Griot company. Commissions include Cooling Down Signs a Pan- European creation performed at Dance Week Festival (HR), D.I.D (AT), Front@ Festival (SI), Bakelit (HU). She has been awarded the Best Choreography Theatre Guide Awards - Portugal (2019) and Best Female Performance - Dublin Fringe (2005). Her work has been performed in Angola, Portugal, Norway, Germany, Ireland, UK, Russian Federation and Austria. She holds a BA in Dance from EDDC (ArtEZ) and Master of Arts in Choreography with Distinction (Trinity Laban). She is a PhD candidate at Kingston University and a PASS studentship awardee

Areas of research interest

  • Choreography
  • Opacity
  • (Non)performance
  • Performance studies
  • Theatre studies
  • Critical Studies
  • Improvisation(s)
  • Glissant
  • Performance Philosophy
  • Dance and Politics


  • Masters in Choreography Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
  • BA Dance European dance Development Centre Hoggeschool voor Arnhem (Netherlands)
  • BA Economics Faculty of Economy University of Coimbra

Funding or awards received

  • 2019 Best Choreography Award by Theatre Guides Awards Portugal
  • 2005 Best Performance Dublin Fringe Festival
  • PASS PhD studentship award (Kingston University)


Gala, V. (2012) Invited Guests In Emergency INDEX, Volume 2: 2012, UDK Press, ed. Editor: Yelena Gluzman and Sophia Cleary, 1 - 600. ISBN: 978-1-937027-12-4. United States of America: UDP Ugly Duck Press

Gala, V. (2015) Staying (A)live. Angolan Pavilion catalogue. Angola: Ministério da Cultura Angola

Gala, V. (2017) Critical Possibilities| Critical Absences: devices, machines and other hybrid associations. Trans-incorporados: Construindo Redes para a Internacionalização da Pesquisa em dança, Rio de Janeiro. Available from: <>. [Acessed: 20th April  2019]

Gala, V. (2018) How to Disappear. Critical dialogues, 10, pp.38-39 [online] Available from: [Accessed 20th March 2019]

Conference papers

2013. "(un)occupy the Body", Performance/Paper presentation at Inventing Futures Conference, ARTEZ, Arnhem (The Netherlands). 

2015 "(un)occupy the Body: session 3 on Things and the non-human. Lecture- performance. CRAL-EHESS Recherche dans Les Arts: Presentations des travaux en cours, Paris (France) 

2015 "Things go unnoticed" lecture performance. Panel performance and resistance. The Practice of (in)visibility: 4th International Critical Studies Research Group Conference. University of Brighton (United Kingdom)

2015 "No Time for Ambition" lecture performance. Institutions, Politics and Performance Conference. Athens (Greece) 

2016 "Maliciously missing: the potential of the missing performer". ACRU Symposium, Kingston University (United Kingdom)

2016 "Gone Missing: the potential of absence in choreography" Liminaridades, Género, Tradução e Performance. CEHUM Univerisdade do Minho | Braga (Portugal) 

2016 "Gone Missing: the potential of absence in choreography" (In)visible Cultures Conference. Culture, Media and Creative Industries (CMCI) Department of King's College London (United Kingdom)

2017 "Maliciously Missing: The Potential of the Missing Performer in Choreography (study II)" [performance lecture]. How to things with Practice Research Symposium, Surrey University (United Kingdom) 

2017 "Upside Down: choreography beyond the subject-object divide" [performative round-table] Beyond Application: Immanent Encounters Between Philosophy & the Arts Centre for Performance Philosophy, University of Surrey, Guildford (United Kingdom)

2017 "Upside Down: Upside Down: Choreography beyond the object subject divide". FASS Conference Kingston University (United Kingdom) 

2017 Dialogues on Dance, Philosophy, and Performance in the Contemporary Neoliberal Moment Conference Coventry University (United Kingdom) 

2017 "Critical Possibilities| Critical Absences: devices, machines and other hybrid associations". Transincorporados: Building Networks for International Dance Research Conference  Rio de Janeiro Federal University (Brazil) (Published)