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 Post subject: Biennale Dance Festival in Venice
PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 3:55 am 
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Last year the Biennale Dance Festival in Venice focused on dance and the city, this year as artistic director there is Karole Armitage and the theme is dance itself, that is the language of dance, the different approaches to the body in movement too often hidden by rich costumes, complicated scenes and the like. Here is the link to the English version of the programme.

http://www.labiennale.org/en/dance/

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 Post subject: Re: Biennale Dance Festival in Venice
PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2004 2:22 am 
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Here is an extract of Karole Armitage's intro to the theme of the festival titled "abcd… The Universal Grammar of the Body":

Quote:
"abcd... The Universal Grammar of the Body" is the title for the program I proposed for the Venice Biennale's 2nd International Festival of Contemporary Dance 2004. The program will be dedicated to showing the most innovative choreographers working on the language of dance itself. Much contemporary work has ignored the linguistic aspects of dance in favor of theatrical, literary or conceptual ideas. Modes borrowed from theater or literature have been used to create hybrid forms of dance that rely extensively on set and costume rather than on the body's unique metaphoric ability to create meaning.
You can find the rest at this link:

http://www.labiennale.org/en/dance/presentation/

<small>[ 19 May 2004, 04:52 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: Biennale Dance Festival in Venice
PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2004 4:14 am 
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As part of the OLD WORLD section BALLET FREIBURG PRETTY UGLY directed by AMANDA MILLER will perform a mixed bill of three pieces that testify to the different stages of her deconstructive approach to ballet.

18 June 2004 - Teatro Piccolo Arsenale - 7 p.m.
19 June 2004 - Teatro Piccolo Arsenale - 8 p.m.

PRETTY UGLY (1988, 25 min.) Italian premiere
choreography Amanda Miller
with Shane Hedges, Michael Maurissens, Michael Getman, Emma-Luise Jordan, Rebecca Jefferson, Viviana Escalé Pelliza
music Peter Scherer and Arto Lindsay
costumes and lighting Amanda Miller
production Pretty Ugly Dancecompany

PARALIPOMENA (1996, 14 min.) Italian premiere
choreography Amanda Miller
with Amanda Miller, speaker and actor Seth Tillett
music Giacinto Scelsi (excerpts from Fleuve Magique/AnaGamine, excerpts from String Quartet No. 3 movements 1, 4, 5)
costumes Amanda Miller
lighting Seth Tillett
production Pretty Ugly Dancecompany

FOUR FOR NOTHING (1997, 28 min.) Italian premiere
choreography Amanda Miller
with Emma-Luise Jordan, Flavia Tabarrini, Rebecca Jefferson, Viviana Escalé Pelliza, Shane Hedges, Michael Maurissens, Michael Getman
speaker Seth Tillett
music J. S. Bach (from the Brandenburg Concertos No. 6, 4, 3)
costumes and lighting Amanda Miller
set design Seth Tillett
production Ballett Freiburg Pretty Ugly
in coproduction with Klapstuk Festival, Belgium

In collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Mailand

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 Post subject: Re: Biennale Dance Festival in Venice
PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2004 1:55 pm 
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PRELUDE/INTERLUDE

Before entering the atmosphere of the Biennale Danza one has to enter Venice, the city with watery streets and incredible heat...especially during certain summer days, like today or yesterday when breathing and sweating was pretty much running arm in arm....

I was not discouraged by that, this was the third time I was trying to go to Venice to see some of the numerous dance events the Biennale was offering (and that it is offering, there are few more days to go till the end of July!), but a train strike once and personal problems the other time prevented me from accomplishing what I was starting to consider a mission.

Not yesterday. I managed to arrive fine and reach the nice and newly refurbished area of the Arsenale to see two interesting performances, that of the director of this festival, that is Karole Armitage's Company, and that of john Jasperse, a new promise from the US!

So tat is why this is a prelude and an interlude. Prelude as it comes before my actual reflections on the two performances; interlude because it was supposed to be between events that I did in reality not see.

...water keeps flowing, caressing palaces and boats, with a special touch for gondolas...

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 Post subject: Re: Biennale Dance Festival in Venice
PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 6:47 am 
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KAROLE ARMITAGE
'Echoes from the Street'
Venice, Teatro alle Tese, 22nd July, 2004
h 8.00 pm

The journey through the Grand Canal is mingled with heat and humidity (40 C°), still it bears the magic atmosphere of a fairy tale, time seems to have taken a different turn in Venice, not exactly lost in the past but rather with a contemporary view on long gone ages. And long gone is the armament factory, the Arsenale, famous and important since the XVI century, now turned into a series of structures for the Dance Biennale. It is a part of Venice I never ventured into, there is a tiny leather mask shop, close by an icecream shop. Tourists have not transformed this area, there is a venitian flavour absent in the rest of the watery city.

The Arsenale is just around the corner and I soon find the small Teatro alle Tese where Karole Armitage will present her new work, especially created for this festival. She has been appointed as Artistic Director and, at the same time, she presents her own work. This ambivalence does not seem to worry her. I find the 'Punk Ballerina' outside the theatre, talking with some of her collaborators. Armitage is renown for her interdisciplinary approach to dance, where popular dance and ballet are intertwined in a dissacratory manner. She seems to have looked back at her past in the work she presents as the title itself suggests, 'Echoes from the Street'.

Before the actual starting, Armitage herself appears on stage to introduce her piece. 'It is always difficult to interpret a work', she says, every time something is performed it looks different. She concludes quoting Dante's famous opening of the Inferno (Hell) with reference to her work and to the unbearable heat. The Teatro alle Tese is a cosy small sized theatre, the stage is bare except for a curtain of ropes that vertically structure and shape the three sides of the theatre. A dancer comes in, she wears a golden coloured kind of bathing suit. The music by Béla Bartók highlights the movement of her flexible body. A duet follows between two other dancers. Their body structure is well built, they are taller and more powerful in their movement quality.

Little by little other dancers walk in through the ropy curtains in an alternation of pas de deux, solo pieces and group phrases, all characterised by Armitage sense of space and excellency of body articulation. Little by little the ropes emerge in their luminouscence as the tiny lights that run all along each rope begin to be turned on. A starry atmosphere is created. Soon the structured body movements leave space for a different contamination with dancers performing street dance and voguing pieces. With regard to the voguing the mind immediately runs to the much celebrated 1990 Madonna video 'Vogue' choreographed by Armitage herself.

'Echoes from the Street' is a nice piece of dance. It well builds the tension between the different fragments and the dancers' performance is of the highest standard. However, the mingling of structured, 'high' and street dance does not seem to have been sufficiently reworked. Furthermore there is a falling into stereotypes of gender and racial roles, especially in the duets, where men interpret the sustaining function and women that of the ballerina in classical dance. Even in the pas de deux between men, this role is reinforced in the choice of the smaller man in the role of the woman and of the bigger in that of the male dancer in ballet. In the Indian flavoured section an Indian tiny dancer gains the central role performing yogalike positions wearing a red version of the bathing suit costume. Armitage highlights the importance for dance in terms of its 'linguistic aspects', criticising those who 'borrowed from theatre or literature' to create a work. On one hand this is a kind of discourse that attempts to utilise 'the body's unique metaphoric ability to create meaning' as she says in the presentaion of the Venice Biennale. On the other hand it risks to fall into a solely aesthetic approach where the claim for the purity and universality of the dance language leads to discrimination and stereotypes. The latest researches in Dance Studies suggest that it is important to contextualise dance within its cultural milieu. Whether the dance in question is abstract, narrative or theatrical, there is the need to locate it in its historical, sociological, cultural background. I personally found 'Echoes from the Street' interesting and visually entertaining. In spite of that, I felt dissatisfied by the above mentioned dated and stereotypical aspects.

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 Post subject: Re: Biennale Dance Festival in Venice
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2004 8:03 am 
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'JUST TWO DANCERS' BY JOHN JASPERSE
Teatro Piccolo Arsenale, Venice, 22nd July 2004
h 9.30 pm

Two stretched lacy pieces of cloth segmenting the stage in width, a slant clearly defined 'v' shaped retro touch of white against a dark coloured background. And ordinary mirrors handed over to every single member of the audience as soon as we get in the Piccolo Arsenale theatre. Our eyes still filled with the Armitage's glitter and street style in her 'Echoes from the Street'. The shift into this air conditioned larger space is nice and refreshing. After a few minutes one notices that the stalls are fractured, in their linear rows, by a set of mini stages scattered around in a discomposed manner.

Karole Armitage introduces John Jasperse by saying that he represents one of the most innovative choreographers in the US dance panorama. Then the performance begins and a sense of inadequacy overcomes the audience: all the lights are kept on. Chris Peck and Regina Sadowski, the two musicians, sit on the left handside of the bare stage, Jasperse and Juliette Mapp enter the stage but do not stop there, they move forward towards the mini stages among the discomposed audience: a sacred border is being dissolved, an invasion of privacy permeates the air. They take two chairs and sit in front of each other. Their hands meet and get intertwined together. Soon they move to different platforms, their distance grows in spite of their mirroring movements. At this stage the audience guess what to do with the little mirrors. Mapp is at the back of the whole theatre and if one intends to keep the frontal posture he/she has to use the mediation of the mirror to catch her dancing.

It is interesting to note that I refrain from using the 'I' pronoun or the impersonal to present this piece, I do feel a sense of collettiveness within this performance, I do feel engaged as a 'we' and not as an 'I'…The lights are still full on, I exchange a quick glance with the blond lady who sits beside me, after a while the mirror reveals to be a kind of trick, she decides to employ it to check out her make-up, Mapp and Jasperse are moving at an unsustainable slow-motion. He wears a long sleeved shirt of a grey purple shade and a pair of grey trousers. Juliette Mapp a purplish top with a skirt of the same colour, both add a retro flavour to the retro visual impact of the lacy cloth on stage. A lacy curtain is in perpetual motion in the back, where Mapp is now moving, a fan produces an artificial suspended wind.

The dance articulation is fragmented and discontinuous, they move again together in the front platforms endlessly jumping with their feet in parallel. The sound of the electric violin played by Sadowski is replaced by a more commercial hip-hop, it sounds like the Beastie Boys. They scream hysteric screams, he goes in the back mini-stage to perform a nevrotic 'dance of the fly-killing'. I use this expression to illustrate his attmpt to catch something in the air, his arm movements soon grow into a frantic shaking of the upper body. He seems to be wanting to fly himself, as Armitage had suggested in her quick introduction.

'Just Two Dancers' is an unusual kind of performance. It is interesting for what Bertold Brecht used to call the 'alienation effect' it produces in the audience. You are constantly aware of the structure framing the piece, because some of the given for granted 'rules' of theatre are broken, such as the dancing between, or I should say above, the audience or even the use of lights which are not devised to focus on the dance in its own terms as they leave the choice open. Given the involvement of the audience I wish there had been a bigger stimulation, maybe with a more active use of the little mirrors on the audience's part. Last but not least, the dance vocabulary was not very engaging, the slow movements phrases combined with the repetition of very simple steps resulted in an impoverished and flat deconstruction. A real pity as both the two dancers seemed to have magnetic potentials.

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