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Pietragalla Compagnie - 'Souviens toi...'

Frames of a Past Remembered

by Rosella Simonari

July 17, 2005 -- Teatro Rossini, Civitanova Marche, Italy

The second appointment of the Civitanova Danza Festival 2005 was the latest work by the Pietragalla Compagnie, "Souviens toi…" (remember), a piece mainly made of duets between Marie-Claude Pietragalla herself and Julien Derouault. The theme is the melancholic and surreal aspects characterising the act of remembering. This is clear since the opening where Derouault literally appears on stage, back centre, enclosed in a transparent plastic ball. He slowly moves his torso and unrolls his arms while shifting towards the centre of the stage.

This intro sets the oneiric atmosphere which continues in the first main frame of the performance. A frame made of a Van Goghian blue sky, a curtain moving on stage back left, a white boat flowing on stage front and a crimson red dressed woman interpreted by Pietragalla. She walks; she opens her white flowered umbrella; she takes off her high heeled red shoes and her dancing/remembering officially begins. Her movement approach is made of a perfect command of classical and contemporary techniques, with pirouettes and wide battements distorted by a recurrent anxious movement of her arms.

The journey into memory takes a more game-like turn when Derouault enters the stage as a sailor character. He wears a striped t-shirt and dark three quarter length trousers. He jumps and moves around until he meets Pietragalla. They get to know each other via the two big plastic balls they exchange with each other -- one yellow, one blue. Bouncing with them, throwing them away. A game that makes full sense once a series of black and white photographs are shown on a white curtain-like screen that appears in the middle part of the stage. Remembering often acts in a tricky manner, you distort images until proportions dissolve and a ball you used to play with when you were a child becomes a huge, round, coloured object you can almost rest on.

A second main frame is introduced after this. Derouault lies on a green carpet on stage, back right. The lights are focused on his figure and on that green square.  All the rest of the stage is in complete darkness. This seems to be a more melancholic and introspective side of memory, the one that digs down into the deepest realms of the human mind. The movement phrases are more hysterical and performed standing on place. Pietragalla enters wearing a white gown and perfomes a solo as well as a duet with Derouault.

To this second section, others follow. The melancholic twist becomes at times tragic and at times comic. Mimed sections with a clownesque touch alternate with slow and fast paced dance phrases, while the showing of photographs is replaced by the projection of filmed sections.

Even though the choreographic devices sometimes lack power and inventiveness, the technique ability of the two dancers is excellent and it is a pleasure to watch. "Souviens toi…" is a piece full of pathos, it is dedicated to Pietragalla's father whose recent death deeply affected her. And, the Civitanova Danza audience was quite affected by her display of delicacy and lyricism. They applauded a long and intense applause and, among some of them, one could see a tear dropping from their eyes.


Edited by Staff.

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