Contemporary Italian Dance : the 2000s
2018 - Director : Plasson, Fabien
Choreographer(s) : Sieni, Virgilio (Italy) Giordano, Raffaella (Italy) La danse contempo italienne EN.mp4 Di Stefano, Michele (Italy) Sciarroni, Alessandro (Italy) Senatore, Ambra (Italy) Giovannini, Marina (Italy) Dell, Dewey Lucenti, Michela Cosimi, Enzo (Italy)
Author : Ada d’Adamo
In Italian contemporary dance of the first decade of the 21st century, various generations of artists coexist together: from those who contributed thirty years ago to the birth of the so-called "new dance" - as was the case in France and other European countries, to twenty-year-olds, grappling with their first creative experiences.
Italy has never established real political and cultural policies for contemporary dance and, except in a few rare cases, choreographers have never been given the run of institutional theatres.
This aside, the current outlook is lively and diversified, not only in generational terms, but also from the point of view of the variety of formats, practices, and creative processes.
In ascolto - Virgilio Sieni
In 2007, Virgilio Sieni ounded the Accademia sull'Arte del gesto, which engaged people of various ages and backgrounds (the elderly, artisans, blind people, mothers and children, etc.) in research that focused on gesture art related to each individual’s memory and experiences. He placed paramount importance on transmitting the contemporary repertory, as shown by In ascolto, choreography created as part of the « Cerbiatti del nostro futuro » project intended for very young dancers between the ages of 10 and 13.
La natura delle cose - Virgilio Sieni
In La natura delle cose inspired by De rerum natura by Lucrezio, Venus passes through three periods of life: first that of an eleven-year-old, then she becomes a two-year-old child, and lastly, an old lady. In the first scene, the lightness-of-being and divine enchantment that the philosopher talks about are expressed through the dance of four male performers who, forming a single body, support the goddess so that she never touches the ground.
Quore. Per un lavoro in divenire - Sosta Palmizi / Raffaella Giordano
In 1999, Raffaella Giordano presented a work that broke away from the creative processes of the previous decade. This performance proposes the sharing of an ongoing human experience ("in progress"), offered to the audience with an almost childlike purity. Pop music, the musical score for our daily existence, amplifies emotions; the traditional concepts of "choreography", "virtuosity", "beauty", and "performance" are shattered. The performers’ living bodies, harshly lit by fixed lights, reject technical and formal grace and expose their imperfections, as if they had been stripped totally bare.
This performative dimension foreshadows a practice that would become very widespread during the 2000s, when dance became a sort of laboratory that brought together all the other performing arts: theatre, performance, music, and productions.
otto - Kinkaleri
Kinkaleri began in Florence in 1995, defining itself as a "set of models and resources on hold in an endeavour”. The play is a scenic set-up based on the repetition of a few simple actions, like a body falling to the ground and remaining there for a given time: a corpse that becomes an object among others scattered around the stage. The initially empty performance space becomes awash with rubbish, which appears there, out of the blue, in almost total silence. The audience only hears the distant echo of a song from a Walkman that a female dancer wears while performing a few brief series of movements.
Robinson - Michele Di Stefano
Michele Di Stefano also studied outside the established system. In 1997, he founded the group Mk, which brought together a variety of personalities. A vocalist for a new wave band in the 1980s, Di Stefano became interested in bodies in motion whilst researching the qualitative impact of a concert. His work, designed for theatre and other spaces, explores the intersections between choreography and researches sound and performance. Robinson uses mechanisms from ballet to breathe life into a sequence created by amassing and showcasing bodies that are aesthetically and technically ever-so different. The resulting tension is generated by these differences, which common language does not standardize but highlight.
Folk-s - Alessandro Sciarroni
Alessandro Sciarroni comes from a visual art and theatre background. His performances address specific questions, as can be seen in his Folk-s (2012). "How long will the Schuhplattler, the famous folk dance of the South Tyrol manage to survive?" asks the artist. The reply, expressed by one of the performers at the beginning of the show: "We will continue even if only one spectator remains on the benches or only one dancer on stage; anyone who leaves these benches or this stage cannot come back". Away from its original setting, stripped of typical costumes and the traditional Bavarian musical accompaniment, the popular dance becomes a performing art gallantly taken on by six male dancers: a test of individual physical strength, as well as a dazzling and rigorous choreographic structure.
John - Ambra Senatore
Roberto Castello’s Aldes Company witnessed the first solos of Ambra Senatore, a shrewd observer of human relations, upon which she places her light yet ironic perspective. In her group performances, performers develop a dramaturgy that blends together words, everyday gestures and the choreographic partition. At the same time, they experience a state where they continually slip away from the reality of being "people who dance" and move towards the fiction of the performance. In John (2012), the rhythm and roles of the performance are dictated by the movement of several objects: small mechanical birds, spinning tops, toy cars and robots, while the audience, called upon to respond to simple questions or to operate the machinery, partially decide, through their replies, what is going to take place on stage.
Meditation on Beauty - Marina Giovannini
For a long time, Marina Giovannini was part of Virgilio Sieni’s company. With Meditation on Beauty, she examines the concept of beauty through the intelligence of the female body. A body that reveals its fragility and, at the same time, its strength, through relationships with an extremely simple stage set: three wooden parallelepipeds upon which Giovannini explores her body's ability to adapt, its precariousness and balance. The second scene is a circular dance where three performers, mutually supporting each other, seem to want to bear the whole burden of the world on their heads.
"Agile" compositional forms, such as solos or duos, are frequently produced for Italian stages.
à elle vide - Dewey Dell
Dewey Dell, is a company founded in 2007 by four twenty-year-olds. In their first work, two characters emerge from the total darkness of the stage: a rooster and a scorpion that seem to have come straight out of a comic strip. The red rooster performs jerky movements, while the white scorpion has an elegant, arrogant attitude. In its more recent works, the company has continued to draw inspiration from the imaginary world of comic strips. It went as far as designing "inflatable" bodies in Marzo, produced offhand-in-hand with Japanese visual artist Yuichi Yokoyama.
Il sacro della primavera - Michela Lucenti
Michela Lucenti proposes total theatre which focuses on strong ethical trends. It is hardly a coincidence that her company is called Balletto civile. In Il sacro della primavera the original rite of sacrifice of a young virgin is seen as a metaphor for the condition of young artists from the Italian dance scene: a generation tired of waiting, overwhelmed by the demands of a market that constantly requires something new, and aware that everything has already been done by their predecessors. The mix of frustration and repressed energy is illustrated through repeatedly falling bodies, literally thrown onto the stage, in the frenetic wardrobe changes, in the aggression of the Stravinsky partition, continually violated by the audible incursions of a DJ, and from shouts and snippets of conversation from the performers.
Calore - Enzo Cosimi
Even a term like "repertoire", which in the 1980s was synonymous with "old" and "behind-the-times", has now taken on a new meaning for contemporary dance. The RIC.CI project (Reconstruction Italian Contemporary Choreography – Eighties and Nineties) created and directed by critic Marinella Guatterini, has shed new light on important works such as Calore, a cult piece that catapulted a very young Enzo Cosimi in 1982, into the Post-Avant Garde Roman theatre world. Calore showed the euphoria of discovering sex, an irreverent taste for excess, and the ingenuity, play, and irony of a language that moved freely inside and outside codes, blending high and low-level language citations. In 2012, the reinterpretation of the show by four young performers offered the occasion to rediscover the totally intact atmosphere of rage and fury of the original.
In more depth
Books and chapters
ACCA, Fabio, LANTERI, Jacopo. Cantieri Extralarge. Quindici anni di danza d'autore in Italia 1995-2010. Rome : Editoria & Spettacolo, 2011. 208 p. (Spaesamenti).
AGAMBEN, Giorgio. Che cos’è il contemporaneo ? Rome : Nottetempo, 2008. 28 p. (I sassi).
AGAMBEN, Giorgio, Lucrezi. « Appunti per una drammaturgia », in La natura delle cose di Virgilio Sieni, Firenze, Maschietto Editore, 2011, 40 p. (Il gesto).
CAROSI, Massimo. Movimenti urbani : la danza nei luoghi del quotidiano in Italia. Rome : Editoria & spettacolo, 2011. 152 p.
D’ADAMO, A. Spazi per la danza contemporanea. Rome : Editoria & spettacolo, 2009. 192 p.
DI BERNARDI, Vito. Virgilio Sieni. Palerme : L'Epos, Palermo, 2011. 87 p.
DI STEFANO, Michele, MORGANTIN, Margherita. Agenti autonomi e sistemi multiagente. Macerata : Quodlibet, 2012. 96 p.
FANTI, Silvia. Corpo sottile : lo sguardo sulla nuova coreografia europea. Milan : Ubulibri, 2003. 269 p.
GRAZIANI, Graziano. Hic sunt leones : Scena indipendente romana. Rome : Editoria & spettacolo, 2007. 368 p. (Spaesamenti).
GUATTERINI, Marinella. L'ABC della danza : la storia, le tecniche, i capolavori, i grandi coreografi della scena moderna e contemporeana. Milan : Mondadori Electa, 2008. 192 p. (Illustrati. Guide cultura).
KINKALERI. 2001-2008 : la scena esausta. Milan : Ubulibri, 2008. 191 p. (I libri quadrati).
PONTREMOLI, Alessandro. Drammaturgia della danza : percorsi coreografici del secondo Novecento. Firenze: Euresis, 1997. 170 p.
PONTREMOLI, Alessandro. « Danzare l'incarnazione : note sullo spettacolo Quore. Per un lavoro in divenire di Raffaella Giordano », in FIASCHINI, F., La lotta di Giacobbe : Inquietudini della fede nella scena contemporanea, Pise, Titivillus, 2013, 152 p.
PROVVEDINI, Claudia. Le parole del corpo : il teatro fisico di Michela Lucenti/Balletto Civile. Pise : Titivillus, 2012. 112 p. (Altre visioni).
SENATORE, Ambra. La danza d'autore. Vent'anni di danza contemporanea in Italia. Turin : UTET Università, 2007. 225 p.
SIENI, Virgilio. Trois Agoras Marseille : l’art du geste dans la Méditerranée. Firenze : Maschietto Editore, 2013. 144 p. (Il gesto).
TOMASSINI, Stefano. Enzo Cosimi : Gruppo Occhèsc, Compagnia di danza Enzo Cosimi. Arezzo, Toscane : Zona, 2002. 144 p.
Ada d'Adamo is an independent Italian researcher. She has written and edited volumes on dance and theater of the twentieth century, including the monographs Danzare il rito (Bulzoni, 1999) and Mats Ek (L'Epos, 2002) and the interview Emio Greco | (The Epos, 2004).
Text and bibliography selection
Maison de la Danse
« Contemporary Italian dance : the 2000’s » Course was launched thanks the support of General Secretariat of Ministries and Coordination of Cultural Policies for Innovation