Clai Fonseca

Clai Fonseca feels she is a paradox, both simple and complex at the same time. She defines her profession as a “Co(s)mic Ballerina“ and she talked with us about her childhood on the streets of Faro.

Who is Clai?

This is a difficult question to answer. I feel like a paradox: simple and complex at the same time. But let’s explore!

I put my foot and the ground and I am following my own path, which is the course of life, although here and there I keep insisting on taking other types of courses for gaining new certificates. The best courses were free. I receive with a greater or a lesser pleasure all the wrapped and unwrapped gifts of life that are offered to me to learn and fulfill myself. But what does it mean to fulfill? And what is the purpose of that? So much is said about the meaning of it, the meaning of life, and what we are doing here.

Respond by living! It seems simple, but we behave like living dead so many times, waiting for the “storm” to pass so we can finally start living.

It can be said that I am from Algarve, born and raised in this land called Faro. My family is also from here, from Lagos, Monchique, Moncarapacho and Mina de São Domingos. It was destiny that wanted me to be born here, to grow, study, and work here until now. Roots. Even if I am from here, the roots are from everywhere. I am a daughter of this land, at the same time from the earth and from the stars, as we are all made from the dust of the stars. At least I like to see myself like that and see all of us in this composition.

I remember myself walking as a pilgrim. I boarded myself on communication, on journalism, always trying to explain what the world was made of and always wanting to understand it. I wanted to change the world, maybe this is why I chose business communication in the end. Advertising is the perfect world for metaphors and imagination; the perfect setting for you to explore creativity and follow the transformation of an idea to a manifestation. I love following the mix of shapes, colors, and textures and giving them meanings, trying to explain what they say, how they feel. I was always sailing in the world of imagination, delighted about everything there is to learn there; I watched how a drawing can become a piece of furniture, a book, a billboard, an exhibition, a stand, a website, or a gift. And even if 14 years of practice helped me learn a lot about materials, formats, and papers, there was never a single day that I was not surprised by something new in a world full of new possibilities. I was so delighted! Even today the world of forms, colors, and poetry calls me, surprises, and fascinates me.

Coaching, reiki, meditation, arts, shamanism, astrology, mental images, family constellations, neuroscience were some of the disciplines that I’ve been adding to my path.

I recently defined my profession as a Co(s)mic Ballerina, because in real life needs to be danced in an exchange of both given and received steps. And life also needs us to say “yes” to everything that happens without having to classify it as good or bad.

Who am I? I am an explorer, a walker, a dancer.

What would you like to do when you grow up?

When I was a child, I said I wanted to be a teacher, a dancer, and a lawyer. As I grew up, I was none of that in a literal sense. However, I am a life dancer, teacher, and student of law for myself. I defend myself from my enemy and I reach agreements and negotiations so that I can live in greater harmony and balance.

I have the feeling that the more I grow, the more I feel like a child. I no longer have the need to conquer and change the world as I had in my 20s. When I reached my 30s, I realized that more important than “to have” is “to be” and enjoy life. I care less and less if others will approve it or call me crazy. I support myself more and more, so I am not addicted to others’ support. And this gives me the freedom to be a child in an adult body, to explore and experience life and it allows me to fail and fall. I answer for my actions, I have the ability to be responsible and the autonomy to assume and be who I want to be, even if that being is changing at every moment.

So, I want to remain a child; a magical child who is surprised by the blessing of life, who considers everything to be sacred, who has faith in humans, who opens up to life, who ventures, laughs rejoices, and cries as well.

What is the first thing on your mind when you think about Faro?

I love all styles of music and in every moment, there can be a song that describes me. But let’s try: Madonna was my childhood diva during the 80s, for her eccentricity, sensuality, and femininity. I would choose the song “Like a Prayer” because it defines my vision of life too: life is a mystery and a prayer asking to be lived with the heart.

Amelie’s song, J’y suis Nunca Allé by Yann Tiersen also touches me and is another one of my favorite songs that reminds me the sky’s not the limit and allows me to fly and explore more and more possibilities.

Michael Nyman’s Piano soundtrack is another song I love, that penetrates the depths of an emotion tearing me up, strengthening me, and giving me tears and courage. All of them are food for my being.

What would be the soundtrack of your life story?


What is the place in Faro you are most connected to? Why?

I spent my entire childhood on the street, in the downtown area. My mother had the Clube Naval restaurant in the middle of the Marina. From morning to night, I was spending my time between boats and fishing, cycling through the Marina and the Manuel Bivar Garden. Downtown was literally an extension of my home. I was wandering freely on the streets without having an adult supervising me. I was the only girl among the boys, my brother, and my older cousin. We went to the morning cinema in Santo António. The children’s library in the Old City’s museum was another of my favorite places, I was visiting it in the afternoons, especially on hot summer afternoons, when the freshness of this old house was having a special charm.

There were certain rituals, the soft eggs I was always buying at the barge of Eva Hotel’s pastry shop are one of my favorite cakes even today. The arrival of shellfish gatherers coming to sell their daily catch. Riding the rowing boats in the middle of the dock alongside the club’s boatmen. Taking a boat trip with the restaurant’s customers. There were some nights with a stage in the middle of the docks and artists like Tonicha, Marco Paulo, and others animating the summer and the city. Every day I was making friends with the new kids who went there for lunch or dinner with their families. I went shopping for jewelry at the stalls placed on Marina’s edge and everyone was calling me by my name.

We were joking that if we cross the train line, we cross the country. It was also one of our favorite places for fishing with a hook, a fishing rod, bread, and a plastic bag. And when the high tides came and the Marina flooded, what a tasty bath happened on the docks that time!

Even today they are the most special places for me: the Marina, the Old Town, Rua de Santo António. They remind me of my childhood, the freedom, the connection to the sea, the water, the roots, and the belonging feeling.

© Photos by Ana Monteiro.