In five years’ time, DUDAPAIVA COMPANY has developed into a unique, international company that interprets the lively cross-over of dance and objects in a new and original form of contemporary dance theatre. Eight outstanding productions have taken us all over the world, won many prestigious awards and led to invitations from the Netherlands and abroad. Meanwhile, the company continues to investigate and perfect every possible form and level of the dialogue, and try out and present new alternatives.


The Brazilian-born Duda Paiva came to the Netherlands in 1996 and worked as a dancer with RAZ, Rogie & Company, Itzik Galili, Paul Selwyn Norton and Ron Bunzl. He soon discovered he had a love of and gift for objects and puppetry, and he decided to combine these forms with dance.

“Even as a dancer, I was searching for contact and a way to click with the audience. I worked with many different choreographers and continually tried to break down that ‘fourth wall’ between audience and performer”.

In order to break through that obstacle of the theatre’s ‘fourth wall’, Duda went in search of a new form. He found it in foam rubber objects and in the cross-over with modern dance.

“These objects come to life through the audience’s imagination. This creates precisely that intimacy with the audience I was looking for as a dancer”.

It all began with Loot, a production he created in 1998 for the CaDance festival. The challenge he encountered in this investigation turned him definitively from a performing dancer into a theatre maker. From then on, he often worked with choreographers like Mischa van Dullemen and Shintaro Oue, and with theatre maker Ulrike Quade, with whom he staged successful productions such as Dead Orange Walk and Two Old Ladies, under the name Quade & Paiva. He has had his own company, DUDAPAIVA COMPANY, since 2004.

Duda Paiva is concerned with the power of the isolated puppeteer on stage. Paiva has developed a dance technique whereby a lifeless foam rubber object can be transformed into a consummate dancing partner. He has a gift for creating a magical reality with the unusual objects he makes himself, which touches audiences all over the world. His work is also appreciated in the dance world, as demonstrated by the selection of Angel for the Dutch Dance Days in October 2005.

An essential element of the work is the material the objects are made from: an ultra-light and flexible type of foam rubber. Only this material can give both object and dancers the flexibility and lightness needed for the movement. Compared to the human body, the foam rubber objects can undergo extreme stretching and contracting. They can be thrown through the air or across the stage, and if water is added they can double in size.

“I realise that the meaning of an object is totally different to the abstraction of dance. Yet this is the combination to which I want to give life and the space to grow. It is the dance that breaks through the linear and romantic qualities of the object. Through it, I create and destroy at the same time, I foster surprise and amazement, and reveal unexpected associations – right before the audience’s eyes”.

“My work is based on dance. Dance offers a more open perspective than language. Dance lets the material breathe. It provides space for a more associative approach to a subject. The physical bond created between dancer and object allows for several different layers, making the power of body language the protagonist in the dramaturgy rather than the way of performing. On the basis of dance, I connect to objects. The movement makes the objects come to life. The dancer gets a partner to whom he has to give his own interpretation and a soul. A dancer knows what the impact of a movement is, and what the influence of tempo, rhythm and repetition is on that movement”. — Duda Paiva

In order to keep on investigating and deepening this cohesion between body and objects, Duda Paiva creates solo performances. These are the valuable laboratories in which he directly experiences the physical capacities of himself and his initially lifeless dancing partner, forming the backbone of the cross-over.

In his work with other dancers, Duda combines his findings with these artists’ specific, individual creativity and expertise. Through exercises and improvisations, an interaction is created that can never take place in solos and which makes the cross-over complete. The ensemble work provides new insights and forms, which are reflected in Duda’s pieces and which focus him and foster his growth as a maker/choreographer.

We have learnt from experience that the knowledge of dancers, theatre makers and puppeteers about the influence of objects on their movement, and vice versa, is often quite limited. In order to let them experience this technique, and experiment with it and apply it, we have developed workshops and masterclasses about dance and object: Partnering the object.

The workshops and masterclasses are based on the technique developed by Duda Paiva: Dividing the beats. Through this technique, the dancer/performer learns to achieve a dramatic and profound connection with an object. Dividing the beats ensures that the dancer/performer is inextricably linked to an object and can move it independently of his own body at the same time. It leads to a unique ‘duet in one spirit’, in which movements are both focused inwardly and projected outwardly.
The next step is to develop choreographic motifs between the object and the dancer/performer. Learning to experience and control the influence of movement, focus and coordination on the lifeless object and on the performer/dancer himself clears the way for his own creative process.

2004 The first solo performance, Angel, takes us all over the world.

2006. The second solo is Morningstar. Choreographer Itzik Galili asks Duda to create a short solo for the Noorderzon project Your Place, My Place. This leads to Hamlet Cannot Sleep - in 2008 part of his farewell tour with Galili Dance, Mirage.


2007 The performances lead to Duda receiving increasingly frequent invitations to give workshops and masterclasses. For instance, he gives a workshop at the SNDO (School for New Dance Development) in the Netherlands. From this develops Birds, a 15-minute legend performed by Javier Murugarren and Andre Mello. Javier then asks Duda to supervise his next project, Atelier, which is developed further under the wing of DPC into a performance that is presented in theatres and at festivals.

Eastern European puppet theatre companies discover the innovative influence of our work. Together, we make two co-productions: in 2007 Façade, with the Bialystok Teatr Lalek from Poland and in 2009 Love Dolls, with Lutkovno Gledališče Ljubljana from Slovenia. Both productions are still being performed there at festivals.


2008 The next important step in the development of the cross-over is taken with a second dancer on stage alongside Duda – Javier, who is graduating this year from the SNDO. The production, Malediction, is also the first to integrate video in the performance.

At the end of 2008, Duda and Yaser Khaseb, from Iran, make a ‘Proeve’ (tryout) that leads to Cloud, a production we create at the end of 2009 for the festival Dancing on the Edge.


2009 Porshia, the puppet who started it all off, reaches her pinnacle in the tour Dansclick 6, in which she is the hostess for the evening.


2009 Façade, the co-production with the Bialystok Teatr Lalek, is invited to the most important theatre festival in Warsaw. This marks a huge step in Polish puppet theatre.


2010 Three full-length productions are on the repertoire: Angel, Morningstar and Malediction. All three win various awards at foreign festivals. We also have two short productions: Porshia and Birds. There is a Dutch tour of the remake of Love Dolls.

The co-production we made in 2009 with the Slovenian LGL, Love Dolls, is the first puppet theatre performance selected for the National Theatre Festival in Maribor, Slovenia.


2011 Premiere of Bastard! at the CaDance festival NL and the Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionnettes FR.