1st Microfestival of Italian Contemporary Dance
Dancing for/around marche
by Rosella Simonari
May 22, 2004 -- Camerino, Pollenza, Macerata, Civitanova, Italy
It is usually the audience who waits for a performance to start. There might be problems of the last minute, a costume missing, an unexpected physical injury, a technical malfunction. During the 1st Microfestival of Italian Contemporary Dance, the other way round occurred. The four Italian Dance Companies called to perform in four different theatres of the Province of Macerata, had to wait, sometimes for more than a few minutes because the audience was the touring part of the event. Devised by Gilberto Santini, Artistic Director of Civitanova Danza in collaboration with AMAT (Association of Theatrical Events in the Marche), the Province of Macerata and the Ministry for Art and Culture, this original marathon attempted to introduce different theatres of the region to dance. Included in the incredibly inexpensive subscription for the four dance pieces, 16 euros, was the facility of a coach to allow the audience to get quickly transported form a location to the next one.
Overall it has been a great success. "We had so many subscriptions that we decided to organise a second coach" underlined Barbara Mancia, press agent at AMAT and responsible for the organisation of this event. It was interesting to note that even people from different regions of Italy were enthusiastic, a sign that dance goers are demanding new ways of appreciating dance.
The first performance was held in that small jewel that is the Teatro Marchetti in Camerino. There the Balletto Teatro di Torino presented "Slippery - friction - skipped and streatch", a series of abstract pieces choreographed by Matteo Levaggi. It is a very classical dance based work, where structured and sometimes rigid dancers performed different phrases alterning solo pieces with pas de deux and group works. The scenography was quite bare: some light coloured panels covering only half the height of the stage encased the dance on three sides, leaving the audience with a sense of reduced and possibly more intense focus on the dancers' movements. Particularly good was the pas de deux performed by a orange fur skirted Vicente Palomo and Simona Tosco dressed in a veiled black top and leotard, perfectly balanced in her [X]batmans and subsequent en pointe phrases.
The school trip taste of this event began to be really felt once the whole group walked its way back to the two coaches to depart from Camerino to go to Pollenza, where the second performance was there waiting at another small theatre, the Teatro Verdi. A totally different flavour of movement vocabulary was there to be seen. Aldes with Roberto Castello presented a satiric and, in parts, a highly committed piece of dance theatre where the constant big clock positioned at the back of the stage signified the dictatorship of Time. Along with that, the recurrent sound interruption of a bell which inevitably stopped the dancers' actions. "The Best of Possible Worlds. The Shape of Things" played on the contradictions we live in, as with the obsession the drive for mass consumption is causing. That is why it appeared as thunder in a blue sky when the once again abrupt change introduced a man hysterically walking and then running in all directions across the stage, while horrific images of September 11 projected onto the clock played in reverse as in a sadistic game of time manipulation. A challenging dance theatre work justly prized in 2003 with the Ubu Prize, a high honor in Italy.
If Aldes and Roberto Castello completely surprised the audience who sat down filled with the glacial and acid like aesthetics of the Balletto di Torino, the Spellbound Dance Company directed by Mauro Astolfi, again succeeded in displacing the audience with a high paced work of pure dance held at the Teatro Lauro Rossi of Macerata, It is a pity that before this explosion of energy there was a poetry reading which did not have much to do with the dance itself. It was supposed to melt elegantly with the poetics of the dance and it might have done so in the case of a more traditional dance piece. The poet, Umberto Piersanti, read one poem about memory, another about women's skirts and a third one about a fairy. Funnily enough, "Communicating States" was the title of the dance piece that was divided into three parts: ”Disturbed”, where the dancers articulated hysteric movement phrases, “Suspension”, where the female dancers' white and flowing frocks seemed a bit stereotypical for the contemporary based movement vocabulary, and “Inebriation”, filled with colourful costumes and samba-like moves. What was particularly interesting was the pas de trois performed by three men in the first section and the computer generated image of a figure moving in the background which was appearing between each section.
Exhausted and filled with dancing images, the audience welcomed the last performance in Civitanova at the Teatro Annibal Caro with a burst of laughs, given the surreal and Beckettsian atmosphere created by the three dancers. Kinkaleri presented "Otto" a dance theatre work characterised by the obsessive recurrence of the dancers' falls. Kinkaleri had been awarded the Ubu prize 2002 for this piece. An example: a woman stands frontstage showing her back and listening to commercial music in her headphones, while at the back of the stage a man dressed in burgundy shirt and trousers, enters the stage and inevitably falls down after walking two steps: he falls carrying a glass of water, he falls carrying two red balloons, he falls with his face on a strawberry cake after he has carefully positioned it down. The third dancer is no less enigmatic: he enters with an already mounted tent, he goes inside it and comes back with a big fish to let a camera capture his achievement. There seems to be little dance in this performance, but the repetition of falls creates a kind of hypnotic dynamics which questions the way we move, and maybe the way we dance too. A though provoking piece, an excellent conclusion to this itinerant marathon where the audience, in a way, moved as much as the dancers!
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