Studied classical dance with Anna Mascolo and danced in the Gulbenkian Ballet between 1984 and 1989. She started choreographing in 1987 and, since 1991, has become a benchmark of the New Portuguese Dance, and has been presenting her solo and group work all over Europe, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Canada, Singapore, South Korea and the USA.
Of her solo work mention goes to “Perhaps she could dance first and think afterwards” (1991), “Olympia” (1993), “one mysterious Thing, said e.e.cummings” (1996), “What can be said about Pierre” (2011), “The Caldeirão Highlanders, exercises in fictional anthropology” (2012) and “Rich Bread” (2017). Her group pieces include “Under” (1993), “For Boring and Profound Sadnesses” (1994), “Poetry and Savagery” (1998), “k(ɘ) su’pɔɾtɐ i s(ɘ)ˈpaɾɐ i kõˈtɐj uʃ dojʃ mu’duʃ i õ’dulɐ” (2002), “Until the moment when God is destroyed by the extreme exercise of beauty” (2006), “We are going to miss everything we don’t need” (2009), “The Propitiatory Practices of Future Events” (2018), “Splendour and Dysmorphia” (2019) created with Jonathan Uliel Saldanha for Festival d’Avignon, “A fright is a whole word” (2021). Mention goes as well to the project “SURREPTITIOUS (clandestine body)” conceived with Ana Borralho & João Galante, Rita Natálio and Joclécio Azevedo.
In 2013 and 2014 Mantero created the performance installations “Shadows on offer” and “More or Less, but Less than More”, this last piece presented in two different versions: one occupying the whole space of the auditorium – seating and proscenium – in 2013, and other the creation of urban vegetable gardens for the final presentation of the project in 2014. “More or Less, but Less than More” was created in partnership with Culturgest and Maria Matos Teatro Municipal, under the scope of the Create to Connect project financed by the European Commission. These projects, as well as “The Clean and The Dirty” – which premiered in 2016 at Maria Matos Teatro Municipal in the framework of the cycle “The Three Ecologies” co-commissioned by Vera Mantero with Mark Deputter and Liliana Coutinho – clearly reflect the choreographer’s concerns for fundamental issues such as the environment, economic sustainability, social cohesion and inclusion, and Citizenship. In 2018, Mantero was elected by Esglobal and Fundación Avina to be in the List of the Most Influential Ibero-American Intellectuals, devoted that year to professionals who contributed in the fields of environmental, economic, political and/or social sustainability. In 2020, created the performance-conference “Jurisplâncton”, in the framework of the research developed at the Terra Batida network (proposed by Rita Natálio/Marta Lança) – to raise awareness of our individual and collective sense of ecology, the understanding of environmental crimes, and the role of the rights of nature; this piece is later presented as “All you need is plankton”.
Her artistic work has been recognized with institutional prizes such as the Prémio Almada (Ministry of Culture, 2002) or the Prémio Gulbenkian Arte for her career as a creator and performer (2009), as well as through initiatives such as the retrospective organized by Culturgest in 2009, entitled “Month of March, Month of Vera”, or the Portuguese representation at the 26th São Paulo Art Biennial (2004) with the work “Eating your heart out” co-created with the sculptor Rui Chafes. The influential Brazilian newspaper O Globo elected “The Caldeirão Highlanders, exercises in fictional anthropology” as one of the best 10 dance pieces presented in 2014. The city of Fundão dedicated a year to the artist (April 2015 – April 2016) with the project “Passage #2”, which included the presentation of several performances, a project with local students and the recreation of “Eating your heart out” for a treetop walkway in Fundão – this new version, entitled “Eating your heart out in the trees” was presented in 2016 at Jardim da Sereia in Coimbra, for which Rui Chafes created a new sculpture, in 2019 started to be presented in theatrical venues taking the name “Eating your heart out on stage”.
Since 2014, Vera Mantero, together with Jorge Andrade and Pedro Penim, is part of the cast of the Portuguese version of “Quizoola!” by Tim Etchells/Forced Entertainment. Vera Mantero was invited by Boris Charmatz to be part of “20 Dancers for the 20th Century”, a living archive of the defining choreographic solos of the 20th century, that took place at the Tate Modern (London) and at the Paris Opera/Palais Garnier (Paris) in 2015, at the Staatsoper, Tanzkongress (Hannover) and at the Museo Reina Sofía (Madrid) in 2016, and at the IVAM – Institut Valencià d’ Art Modern (Valencia) in 2019. Mantero participates regularly in international improvisation projects alongside improvisers and choreographers such as Lisa Nelson, Mark Tompkins, Meg Stuart and Steve Paxton.
Since the year 2000 Vera Mantero has also been exploring vocal work, either singing the repertoire of different authors or co-creating experimental music projects.
She regularly teaches composition and improvisation in Portugal and abroad.
“For me, dance is not a given fact. I believe that the less I acquire it, the closer I will be to it. I use dance and performance work to understand what I need to understand. I don’t see any sense anymore in a performer specialized in a single discipline (a dancer or an actor or a singer or a musician) and I now see some sense in a performer specialized in the whole. Life is a terribly complicated and rich phenomenon and I see the work I do as a continuous fight against the impoverishment of the spirit, both mine and others, a fight that I consider essential now and always.”