The Dance section of the Venice Biennale was established in 1998, as a result of the reform law of the Biennale that year. The American dancer and choreographer Carolyn Carlson was appointed director for the four-year period 1999 to 2002. Before 1998, dance performances presented at the Venice Biennale were part of the Music program.
The shows presented at the Biennale between 1999 and 2002 were part of thematic sections that took place between May and October within the DMT program (Dance Music and Theatre, the three performing arts sections of the Biennale). For this reason, the term ‘festival’ was not used to give a name to the events of the Dance section in the period 1999-2002.
Biennale Dance 1999
On July 30th, the Teatro Verde on the island of San Giorgio was reopened with the premiere of Parabola by Carolyn Carlson and Gianni De Luigi.
From September 28th to October 30th, a further 13 female solo shows were presented in the Solo Donna program at the Teatro Goldoni:
28 September: Marie-Claude Pietragalla - Let the Grass Grow; Don't Look Back
1-2 October: Kazuo Ohno - Celebration (Kazuo Ohno anthology); The Dead Sea
4 October: Mui Cheuk-Yin - Awakening in a Dream; Eulogy; Elsa Wolliaston - Le prix, la porte
6-7 October: Barbara Martinini - Morgacqua; Helena Pikon - Lilith; Malou Airaudo - Jane
10-11 October: Nina Hyvärinen - Il freddo dell'acqua; Sabine Kupferberg - Silent Cries; Carolyn Carlson - Il vuoto dell'acqua; Carla Fracci - Il tempo dell'acqua
13 October: Anna Sariola - Susano-Wo; Rina Schenfeld - Silk; Talia Paz - La parola dell'acqua
14 October: Raffaella Giordano - Fiordalisi
15 October: Caterina and Carlotta Sagna - La Testimone; Esercizi spirituali
17 October: Eva La Yerbabuena - De la cava; Dal puente; Salpica; Salinas; A mi niña Manuela
20-21 October: Compagnie Marie Chouinard - Solos 1978-1998
23 October: Alarmel Valli - Shankara Srigiri; Kayamalar; Thillana
25 October: Madhavi Mudgal - Mangalacharan; Batu; Dheer Samire; Pallavi; Jagannathashtakam; Moksha
29-30 October: Susanne Linke - Flut; Wandlung; Solo from Über Kreuz; Solo 1999 from H2O
The third section of Carolyn Carlson’s project included the training of new dancers at the Accademia Isola Danza, that was created in the facilities of the Fondazione Cini on the island of San Giorgio: the Biennale opened the first modern and contemporary dance academy in Italy, that trained dancers from various countries for a period of four years. An extraodinary group of teachers included major figures in the world of dance, such as Jorma Uotinen, Raffaella Giordano, Elsa Wolliaston, Jean Cristophe Paré, and Dominique Mercy, to name but a few. Since the summer of 1999, young dancers took part in works directed by Carolyn Carlson that were presented in Venice and in a few other major cities in Italy and in Europe.
Biennale Dance 2000
The shows took place at the Teatro Verde of the Fondazione Cini (San Giorgio island, Venice):
28-29 June: Sankai Juku, Unetsu (The Egg stands out of Curiosity)
6-7-8 July: Carolyn Carlson, Light Bringers (world premiere)
14 July: Kodò, Mikazuki-no-Yoru
18-19 July: Batsheva Dance Company, Wara - dance marathon
22-23 July: Kudsi Erguner Ensemble, The ceremony of the Whirling Dervishes
28-29 July: U Theatre, The Sound of Ocean
6-7 September: The sacred dance of Tibetan Monks; the Padmasambhava ceremony and the Tcham dance
The Accademia Isola Danza continued its training program: Carolyn Carlson was assisted by Simona Bucci, and about fifteen teachers gave classes: these included Patrick King, Larrio Ekson, Joan Woodbury, Henry Smith, as well as the Italians Caterina Sagna, Michele Abbondanza and Antonella Bertoni, as an example of Carolyn Carlson’s ability to develop new talents.
Biennale Dance 2001
The Shakespeare & Shakespeare festival ran March 2nd to 8th: this was a multidisciplinary project that involved all sections of the Venice Biennale in a mutual tribute to Shakespeare’s work. Nigel Charnock’s Virus was among the world premieres in this project.
In 2001, most of the program took place between June and July, with the addition of a Josef Nadj world premiere in September.
Creations for the Biennale – Dance and Music productions
5-6-7-8-10-11 June: Carolyn Carlson, J.Beuys Song (world premiere)
22-23-24 June: Tero Saarinen, Kaze (world premiere)
28-29-30 September: Josef Nadj, Petit psaume du matin (world premiere)
Creations for the Biennale – Dance and Music commissions
14-15-16 June: Massimo Moricone (choreography) - Giovanni Mancuso (music), Faustus Circus (world premiere)
15-16-17 June: Monica Francia, Antonio Montanile, Francesco Scavetta (choreography), Luigi Ceccarelli (music), Three Italian solos: Regina - Quduò - Live* (world premiere)
4-5-6 July: Laura Balis and Cinzia Romiti (choreography), Michael Galasso (music), La scala del fuoco
9-10 June: Pounamu Kai Tahu, Maori dance
28-29-30 June: Angel Royas and Carlos Rodríguez, Furia
5-6-7 July: Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Rain
11-12-13 July: Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Les préludes de Chopin; Le cri du monde
11-12-13 July: André Simard, Échos
Accademia Isola Danza. For the third year, great masters of contemporary dance were the leading figures of the training project for young dancers directed by Carolyn Carlson: 300 applications received, three days of auditions organized for 175 dancers from all over the world, 30 grants awarded. The 2001 session of the Accademia Isola Danza took place from May 2nd to September 28th. Besides Carolyn Carlson, new teachers at the Accademia included Jean Cébron, Susan Sentler, Jennifer Muller, Caroline Marcadé, and Nigel Charnock, to name but a few.
Biennale Dance 2002
On March 15th, 16th and 17th, Carolyn Carlson presented her new show Waltz thru Time at the Teatro Malibran, featuring Carolyn Carlson and Larrio Ekson with music by Gavin Bryars and René Aubry.
A series of male dancers solo performances, SoloMen, was presented in May, so as to mirror the female series Solo Donna of 1999. The program ended in September with a further two world premieres.
7 choreographers – New dance commissions for the Biennale (Teatro Fondamenta Nuove):
2 and 4 May: Simona Bucci, Di ombre cerchiati gli occhi / Luca Zampar (tra) / Cristiana Battistella, Wege / Antonio Montanile, Punto con fondo
3 and 5 May: Silvia Traversi, SPES Sentimentalismi Per Esperti Sentimentali / Davide Rocchi, "A Trumpet Sounded" / Alessandra Vigna, Une chambre dans le désert, et
New dance commissions for the Biennale (Teatro alle Tese):
2-3-4 May: Enzo Cosimi, Hallo Kitty! *
13-14-15 September: Caterina Sagna, Relazione Pubblica *
20-21-22 September: Gilles Jobin Dance Co., Under Construction *
SoloMen (Teatro Piccolo Arsenale):
3 May: Benoît Lachambre, Délire défait
4 May: Andrew De Lotbinière Harwood, Sens cible; Instinct
7 May: Ismael Ivo, Mapplethorpe *
11 May: Roberto Castello, Il migliore dei mondi possibili - parte II * / Alessandro Certini, Testimone Modesto * / Nicola Laudati, La muta *
14 May: Wu Zheng, Follow * / Fabrice Lambert, Le rêve * / Yuval Pick, Cotton Crown * / Yutaka Takei, Kan (Prisoners of Freedom)
16 May: Jorma Uotinen, A letter of a dead man * / Hara Kuorelahti, A Blind Moment *
19 May: Ivan Wolfe, Electricboogiebutoh * / Urs Dietrich, Camera del cuore * / Frey Faust, Emissary *
23 May: Mark Tompkins, Hommages
25 May: José Navas, Haman/Navas Project
28 May: Jordi Puigdefabregas Serra, "Solo señor" / Domingo Tejada Moreno, Labyrinths * / Doug Varone, After You'veGone; Nocturn; On the Field of Destiny / Frédéric Seguette, Shirtology
2 June: Tero Saarinen, Hunt / Johan Silverhult, Tal *
6 June: Josef Nadj, Le journal d'un inconnu *
9 June: Nigel Charnock, Frank *
21-22 June: Raghunat Manet (choreography) and Didier Lockwood (music), OmKara
25-26 June: Vagabond Crew, Chienne de vie!
29-30 June: Accrorap, Anokha (La danse des dieux et des hommes)
(Teatro Verde della Fondazione G. Cini)
25-26-27 June: Cas Public, Courage mon amour *
1-2-3 August: Pappa Tarahumara, Ship in a view
(Teatro Piccolo Arsenale)
* world premiere
Now in the fourth year of activity, the Accademia Isola Danza became the hot spot for dance training and a unique experience in Italy. Nine dancers who attended the masterclasses over the years joined the Biennale Dance Company and took part in all of Carolyn Carlson’s creations of that period. 29 dancers were admitted in 2002, chosen among the 400 ones who applied for an audition. Teachers of the 2002 session included José Navas, Susanne Linke, Hélène Blackburn, Ivan Wolfe, and Sonia Rafferty.