A dip in an all-female festival, just to not be forgotten. Scruple perhaps excessive: "Civitanova Danza", run by the Amat circuit of the Marche region and designed by Gilberto Santini, has always given premieres, courses held by the highest levels of the Ballet of the Teatro alla Scala, the Paris Opéra and famous modern choreographers. Yet, it did not want to miss the appointment with its audience and its twenty-seventh edition. Gritting its teeth, between decrees of distance in the audience and on stage, the festival managed to give us a showcase of the great diversity existing in the feminine gesture and composition.
Four shows distributed every other day (from 5 to 11 August) have almost always filled the two hundred "ministerial" seats of the Teatro Rossini in Civitanova Marche, which contains more than eight hundred theatrical armchairs. Silvia Gribaudi and her award-winning Graces have been chosen to baptize the all pink cameo; since 2018, the debut date, she has been traveling around the world with this pièce, winning acclaim and smiles. Yes, because the Turin-based Gribaudi has been exploring for ten years the feminine identity, her stereotypes, her unconfessed idiosyncrasies, fondling especially that comic side that is certainly not usual among women-creators of dance. Just at "Civitanova Danza" she debuted with R. osa- 10 exercises for new dance virtuosity, a show dedicated to Claudia Marsicano, an exceptional performer with a body conspicuously massive but no less agile and expressive that collapsed, on easy music, any preconceptions about the ideal feminine body in contemporary dance.
In 2016, that exploit brought Gribaudi close to the Ubu Prize. Two years later, her poetics, strengthened by the collaboration with Matteo Maffesanti (director and video-maker), had more strongly included the male genre. So Graces, inspired by the naked Three Graces, embraced and sculpted in a single marble block, life-size, by Antonio Canova and in two versions (1814-1817), were ideally delivered to three male performers: Siro Guglielmi, Matteo Marchesi, and Andrea Rampazzo. They arrive on the stage in pants and socks, and they come out barefoot and golden briefs. The choreographer who acts as a cicero and master of ceremonies soon joins them, flirting not so much with the names of the three Canova’s neoclassical wonders but with what their names mean: splendor (Aglaia), joy and happiness (Eufrosine) and prosperity (Talia). Gribaudi in a black, almost bathing suit, does nothing but thank the public - on the other hand, her salamelecchi have to do with the title of the play - inciting them to find synonyms of that joyful and rich gift of goods that the "Graces" emanate, while the lights rise and fall against the light.
Little by little the three "male Graces" begin to show their academic virtuosity on various music that does not exclude a well-known waltz by Strauss. Time is suspended; joy involves and at the end, repeating itself, it turns a little into melancholy. Moreover, the distance precludes a real contact of the bodies and the show, stopped for a while, cause Covid-19, is not yet in full shape. After little jumping like horses in unison, comings, and goings of decorations placed in the less elegant points of the body, all ends anyway in musical. What we have most admired are the winking and sneaky gestures of the choreographer-interpreter; her winking at the audience so that it becomes involved; her true-fake not knowing what to do. And also that way of managing her own body with relaxed euphoria… while the potential male virtuoso will soon be perfect.
The second performance of the "Quartetto in rosa" was delivered to the well-known Carolyn Carlson, or rather to two of his most faithful Italian performers - Sara Orselli and Riccardo Meneghini - preceded by Guillaume Perret, a good saxophonist to whom Carolyn has assigned a virtuoso solo introduction, as well as wanting him as the musician of the first two dance pieces. In The Seventh Woman, a variant of the later The Seventh Man, and dedicated to the flexuous mastery of Orselli, she mostly sits sur place under a cone of light from which her long arms and no less long hair, in physical dilations, would like to escape. The only difference, compared to the festival "Eden for a spectator" by Tanz/Bozen-Bolzano-Danza, where this solo has already been presented (in reduced form, to our memory), is that from the grating hang three chairs full of jackets and shirts. They will serve the talented Meneghini, in the last part of his solo, when uncertain between continuing to wear a red shirt or a beige jacket, he will end up trampling all the clothing, sitting and waiting for a decision that we do not know if it will come.
Inspired by the poem The Seventh by Attila József (1905-1937), a tormented poet of the Hungarian Revolution, who died perhaps suicidal at the age of 32, The Seventh Man, involves his interpreter on his bareback in an up and down of tension, absurd speed, and stasis. The abysmal tangle of existential obstacles should all be there, in that giving and receiving very little; in the storm, incipit of his physical story, and in the sometimes hot heat of the sax by Perret that also peeps out from a theatrical fifth. The movements are no longer jerky, wary, and broken as in the first gestures of Carlson. Even here they are long, and the arms seem to want to approach the hostile world. If the final undecided, disappointed, unarmed will is very clear in the composition, the plethora of gestures that lead to the conclusion stumbles on the beauty/perfection of the interpreter who does not show off himself, and naturally proposes himself to the public, as if he had not struggled, or didn’t move at all… If Carolyn exceeds, perhaps in the heat of making us know, through these two solos the power and sensitivity of Attila József, a poet not very well known, his interpreter shines in any case and with superb nonchalance.
The "Evening Carlson" also brings in vogue Mandala (2010), which at least in Italy was always interpreted by Orselli. Inside and outside that ensō, that circle of flowers, that rectangular white drape stretched out at the center, focuses the Zen Buddhism of which Carlson is an adept. Drawing an ensō is part of the Zen pictorial art, and moves those who draw it towards enlightenment: osmosis with the universe, here conveyed by the mostly rotating movements and music, this time by Michael Gordon (Weather, part 1). As she turns, outside the circle, the impeccable dancer opens her arms several times, but also stretches them out towards the sky. The music is in turmoil and subsides when she returns into the mandala. By now she has led us to a spirituality that might not even be ours, and so do not involve us so much, but this time with gestural thrift. In the end, the music, increasingly dim, becomes wind and she, who several times had placed his hands on his face, stops.
Instead, five mysterious characters dressed in a black habit, tight to the waist, and with a hood that hides their faces, enter from the still-lit audience, with light and calibrated step at the time of a clattering. These protagonists (three female dancers and two male dancers) of Towards the species, by Claudia Castellucci could be monks; ghosts of an archaic world that comes from far away. Certainly, they are the spokesmen of the most original and exciting show of "Civitanova Danza n° 27". They come on stage without disruption and here, between dark beige drapes tending to yellow, hang three not easily recognizable characters. One is the Russian philosopher, mathematician and presbyter Pavel Aleksandrovič Florenskij (1882-1937) with an intense activity also dedicated to art (space, time, rhythm, iconography), but only re-emerged from the KGB archives in 1991; there is also the former Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci, considered one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century, and finally the composer Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992).
All three direct the attention towards the studies, the intellectual temperament, but not only, and the current musical predilections of Claudia Castellucci: choreographer, teacher, playwright, founder, in 1981, together with her brother Romeo, Chiara and Paolo Guidi of the theatrical group Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio, now only Socìetas for the different artistic developments undertaken by their founders. To Claudia, on October 16, the Venice Biennale Danza will deliver the "Silver Lion 2020", while her Company will interpret Physics of bitter communion on the Catalog d'oiseaux (Catalog of birds), composed for piano (1956-1958 ) by Messiaen. The other portraits are less tied to the author’s contingent activity, but in it they are permanent. Towards the species unfolds in the space with capillary attention; the extended arms of the beginning and then elongated towards the public end by concentrating the group in the center and by their taking by the hand. Taking off their hoods, the five reveal their different personalities wrapped in the music (appropriate and beautiful by Stefano Bartolini), built on some canons inspired by the metrics of Greek poetry but also by horse movements.
No didactic enslavement of the dancers in those little jumps from foals in unison; let alone in that gesture that leads them to join their pointed arms bending towards the ground to form mysterious triangles. The abstract choreography refers to gestures that could be of ancient and contemporary origin: circles, feet shod in boots that bend only on one side, forcing the viewer not to lose anything of the complex, but hypnotic advancing towards a confrontation of a face to face couple, towards an outstretched arms like guns, and a stretched out on the ground in the proscenium, the face offered to the public. Music is inside the bodies and any technical virtuosity is cleverly hidden, but how much precision in the sudden appearance of one colored fabric, similar to a double-sided flag, stretched like a laundry cloth, folded and refolded, with long strips that fall and are thrown back or forward. Towards the species is an interpretable title, but everyone can extricate themselves as they like in its meanings. Here count the acts, the construction, and that magnificent and sudden final port de bras of a male interpreter that comes from nothing and leaves its mark. The grace and delicacy that were of Comăneci do not yet belong to all the interpreters: to reach them it takes years of study and work; unanimous, however, and resolved by all the dancers are those meaningful moments of stasis and transition between one gesture and another, necessary to make the dance "live", indeed "the ball" with natural elegance, in a "here and now" that leaves you astounded.
Introduced by a still aphasic studio (titled Pedro) by Laura Gazzani, a young local dancer to encourage, Towards the species has been without ifs and buts the most captivating show of this edition of “Civitanova Danza”, and therefore more appreciated by the public. Many spectators enjoyed themselves thanks to the playful I Bislacchi by Monica Casadei but as pure and well-danced entertainment. With this "homage to Fellini" on Nino Rota’s music, mostly taken from La Strada, the "Pink Quartet" of the festival ended. Just resumed in Split, and in running no one knows where, I Bislacchi is a sort of "cult ballet" for the Artemis Danza Company, directed by Casadei with unchanged vitality since 1997. Can you believe that this Fellinian show, born in Mexico in Guadalajara in 2008, has never stopped traveling the world, sometimes accompanied by a movie with the animated drawings of the same Fellini, narrated by Tonino Guerra! Requested everywhere, and interpreted by the many dancers who have alternated in the ranks of the Company (now its headquarters is the city of Parma), the play shows an entrepreneurial ability of Italian dance that finally (also Silvia Gribaudi teaches) seems to have taken wings.
Monica Casadei, usually, brings in return to its guests (with Traviata, Tosca X, The Barber of Seville, in dance form and many other pieces) that Italian flavor whose I Bislacchi, with its lights and its super-colorful costumes, is a simple example, now perhaps too much, but radiant. Acrobats dressed in full length and fully dressed, and swanky in a tutu/bathing suit and flowered caps fit together and arch in a truly bizarre whim. Perhaps in this "circus" that many times repeats the poignant music of the encounter between Gelsomina and Il Matto, the choreographer - who remembers being introduced as a child, under a circus tent by Giulietta Masina - has transferred the nomadism of her own Company. We start from a triple Ginger and Fred (there are six dancers) with precious double steps and corolla-like rotating solos; then in a sort of second part without interruption we continue to the Amarcord baths, sprinkled with shadow games, of color and an insidious “Gradisca” perfume.