STEPTEXT, PSAPPHA, CANTATA
Rome, Parco della Musica, October 20, 2002
Pending the inauguration of the “Sala Grande” in Rome’s fabulous new auditorium (the event took place on Dec. 21st, at the presence of the President of the Republic), the auditorium’s other two halls, already opened to the public, hosted an interesting set of concerts, as well as a performance by the Aterballetto dance company.
Aterballetto presented Steptext, by William Forsythe, followed by Psappha and Cantata, two works created last year by the company’s director Mauro Bigonzetti.
Steptext, produced here by Jill Johnson, was created by Forsythe in 1985 especially for Aterballetto. Four dancers — one woman, Stefania Figliassi, and three men, Thibaut Cherradi, Valerio Longo and Eugenio Scigliano — move to the music of Bach’s Chaconne for Violin. It’s a taut, acrobatic and angular dance, with the dancers in all possible combinations. The ballerina is required to perform incredible extensions and extremely difficult steps en pointe, all of which Figliassi renders with great simplicity and naturalness.
Psappha is the archaic form of the name Sappho, the famed Greek poetess (7th century B.C.). This work features only men, who dance to percussion music by Iannis Xenakis. The instruments are set in the middle of the stage and the dancers move around them. A gong half-hidden in the wings is played by one of the dancers. The ballet ends with all the dancers playing the drums in crescendo.
In Cantata too, the music is inserted into the choreography. The score is based on traditional Neapolitan and Southern-Italian songs, played live by the AS.SUR.D four-woman band — Cristina Veltrone, Lorella Monti, Enza Pagliara and Enza Prestia. The musicians, wearing costumes similar to those worn by the dancers, sing and dance, performing simple choreographic movements together with the dancers proper. The ballet, performed by the entire company, recalls the folk dances of Southern Italy, mixed with contemporary dance. Women and their status in rural society, are the real protagonists of this work.
It’s hardly worth noting that the show is yet another confirmation — as if there were any need for it — of the very high level attained by Aterballetto, in terms of both the dancers’ skill and the intelligent choice of repertoire. It goes without saying that the audience was enthusiastic.