Both the dancer’s C.OR.E working demonstration and the theatre students, Devising Grid working demonstration lead the audience through a traveling performance that took place all over the villa! Below theatre student, Rebekah Dawn, shares her thoughts on the dancer’s C.O.R.E performance. Check back in later this week to read about the devising performance.
Secrets Revealed in Site Specific Work, Part 1
Upon the second Saturday at the villa godiola, the students are off on their weekend tours and I listen to the land. The light, steady, mountainside breeze brushes my skin and ushers in the dry, sweet smell of olive and pine. The dense sloping foliage is aglow in the afternoon sun, its heat radiating like a warm hug. The cicadas hum a constant concerto and the doves chime in intermittent coos. In all my travels, I have never heard the earth sing so loud and sweet.
As I witness nature’s very own show at the uninhabited villa, I reflect on the performances that have taken place here the past two weeks. Among these were two site specific pieces, one created by the dancers and the other by some of the physical theatre actors. Both pieces were enchanting and haunting in turn, and it was wonderful to see the multitude of ways the spaces in the villa could be used. The following is the first of a two part blog reviewing each piece.
The first piece, “Sorry, I’m Not Myself Today,” was created by the dancers under the choreographic direction of Wagner Moreira and Helena Fernandino. The culmination of the first week of the program, it was inspired by the adjustment period in which the collaborators were immersed, and explored the liminal spaces of personal identity during times of transition. This made it truly immersive, coming out of the artists’ own experience in a new time and space, made for an audience undergoing a parallel experience, and set where we all reside, study, and recreate.
There were many things I loved about this piece. For one, it made the villa come alive. I was ushered into relationship with nooks and crannies of my new habitat that I may not have noticed otherwise. As the piece progressed through the living spaces, sleeping spaces, recreation spaces, working spaces, and outdoor spaces, I was impressed with how well each segment of movement fit the space in which it was set. There was nothing illogical or extraneous about how each space was used, and nothing that smacked of the gratuitous pursuit of avante garde classification. Each segment of movement was intricately, deeply, and thoughtfully linked with the space. It was as if the space itself had called out for a certain representation, and the makers of the piece merely answered the call.
Another striking component of the piece was the use of large sheets of light, thin plastic. The plastic served as both a concept in and of itself, as well as a catalyst for choreography. Sometimes the plastic was hanging from a balcony or being manipulated off of the roof. Sometimes it was being danced under, over, on, or with. Sometimes it was wrapped around railings or lamps or bodies. The plastic was primarily a visual and auditory stimulus, but in many moments it was also a tactile sensation. Most impactfully, the plastic struck me as a metaphor. It reminded me of artificial ambitions, consumerism, ecological destruction, false pretenses, and exfixiation. At the same time, it was beautiful as it danced in the wind and uplifting as it caught a gust that would otherwise be invisible.
Another fabulous aspect of the piece is the impact of the imagery in the space. I will forever associate certain spaces with the correlating events that occurred therewithin. For example, the upstairs of the main villa has a long hallway off of which eight different dorm rooms are based. This hallway terminates at a large window that opens fully and is guarded by a balcony rail. This space featured a dancer running back and forth down the hallway trailing a sheet of the plastic above her head that spanned its full length. The spectators were positioned on either side of the hallway, and as the dancer split us down the middle, we felt the breeze and heard the light crinkling sound created by the rushing plastic. On her final round trip down the hallway, the dancer launched herself on to the railing, mysteriously anchoring her lower body while her upper body doubled over the rail. We all gasped for fear that the momentum would send her tumbling over the side, and yet she was as secure as the railing on which she rested. Now every time I walk down that hall and see that railing, I think of that moment.
Perhaps my favorite part of the piece was the final scene, which took place on the Teatrino rooftop terrace. The terrace offers a breathtaking view of the town of Arezzo, and against the backdrop of the Tuscan sunset it’s a force to be reckon. After all arrived on the terrace, the audience was guided one at a time to lay side by side in the middle of the roof. The dancers then joined the audience in this supine position, and choreographers Wagner and Helena rushed an enormous sheet of plastic over us like a river. They ran back and forth a few times doubling the plastic over on itself, the plastic creating a soothing wind and lightly caressing our skin. It was as if they were bestowing a blessing on us, giving us the full sensorial experience of this object that we had just witnessed in various interpolations for the past hour. In an abstract way it reminded me being underwater, and so it was as if they entire audience was undergoing a collective baptism of the central concept of the piece. This haunting conclusion penetrated down to my spirit, and I was moved to tears. I will always remember the beautiful spirits of these choreographers, which they so generously shared.