The Stone, the Sorrow

Daniel Matos is premiering his new contemporary performance piece in Faro in May. Through his latest creation, he explores the notion of our changing perceptions of our parents through the analogy of an abandoned quarry.

Daniel Matos is an innovative choreographer and joint creator of the Lagos Pedra Dura festival, which was featured in the November issue. He is also part of a creative team that operates under the brand CAMA.

During COVID, he saw a report about the abundance of abandoned quarries in Portugal. There are around 750 open quarries that cause an environmental problem and safety issues. The journalist referred to them as “an open wound in the landscape”. This information came at the same time as an artistic desire to create a piece about his parents. So, Daniel linked the analogy of a quarry to family. “Families are like little quarries that look perfect from the outside, but we have to deal with lots of things that are never fixed,” explained Daniel.

Two years ago, Daniel was invited by Rui Horta, the director of O Espaço do Tempo in Alentejo, to take a month’s residency to work on a new piece. Starting in December, Daniel was able to work on his idea and develop a relationship between the two concepts. As he comes from a classical ballet school in Lagos, he proposed  choreographing a classical composition. Daniel decided to work with music by Debussy: ‘Prélude à l’après-midi d’un Faune’. Known in English as ‘Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun’, it was inspired by a poem by Stéphane Mallarmé. Debussy’s work later provided the basis for the ballet Afternoon of a Faun.

Daniel’s work contains fantastical imagery, in which each performer is half human and half goat, contrasting with stripped-back scenography. The scenery is intended to mirror the shape of a quarry, sites of human extraction, which reflects the concept of family, where relationships undergo the processes of wear and tear, abandonment and reconstruction.

Daniel commissioned the digital composer João Galante to create an original score based on Debussy’s work. In Roman mythology, the faun was a creature that was part human and part goat, and this sparked Daniel’s realisation of how, in childhood, his perception of his parents was mythological, with him viewing them as superheroes. Only when he grew up, could he see them as human, with wills, desires and failures. His new work shows how to take our parents out of the realm of a mythological place and how to develop a new way of perceiving them.

“The work is like a bedtime story – but it is a story for my parents. They used to read stories to me a lot at bedtime, but now I tell them the story,” explains Daniel.

The piece is performed by Lia Vohlgemuth, Elia Pangaro and Joana Simões with artistic collaboration from João Catarino. João is a videographer and visual artist who has documented the whole process. After the performances, they will work together to create an audio media publication about the artistic process.

The Stone, the Sorrow may turn out to be the ‘philosopher’s stone’ in Daniel’s artistic quest to uncover hidden truths through dance.

The show premieres on 4 May at Teatro das Figuras, Faro, followed by a performance in Lagos on 25 May at Centro Cultural


Faro –

Lagos – at Centro Cultural de Lagos 

For the article on Daniel Matos and the Pedra Dura Festival go to:


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