La Biennale di Venezia

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Biennale Danza 2018: on stage from 22 June to 1 July

The 12th International Festival of Contemporary Dance is titled To breathe: a strategy, an act of subversion and directed by Marie Chouinard.

Dance, Theatre, Music. From June through October La Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta, becomes an international festival of live performance and a centre for training and research in the programmes of Marie Chouinard, Antonio Latella, and Ivan Fedele.

The 12th Festival

On stage in Venice from June 22nd to July 1st, the 12th International Festival of Contemporary Dance, titled To breathe: a strategy, an act of subversion and directed by Marie Chouinard, spans the wide horizon across which choreography is developing today, highlighting the dynamics and evolution of the figures of dancer and choreographer.

It will feature Meg Stuart, winner of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement and a pioneer in improvisation projects which have distinguished her work and influenced many artists, who brings to the Biennale the Italian premiere of Built to Last; and we will see the union between the postmodern dance of Deborah Hay, a precursor of the American “counterculture” gathered in the Judson Dance Theater, and the perfection of the Cullbergbaletten dancers, the finest expression of modern ballet, together for Figure a Sea, to the music of another great experimenter, Laurie Anderson.

There will be the contemporary flamenco of Israel Galvàn, who in FLA.CO.MEN revitalizes a centuries-old tradition that is embedded in his DNA (he is the son of bailaores), and is not afraid to revolutionize the elements of a highly-codified dance. There will be the “choreographic concerts” of Frédérick Gravel, with his collective of actors, dancers and musicians, adrenalin-charged performers for the Italian premiere of Some Hope for the Bastards, an example of the distinctive fusion between indie rock and contemporary dance. The intersection between dance, music and theatre also underpins the work of Jacques Poulin-Denis, composer and choreographer, and the author of Running Piece, a work for dancer and tapis roulant, to be shown in its European premiere performance at La Biennale.

The grade-zero of dance is represented by Xavier Le Roy, one of the pioneers of anti-choreography, which ranges from conceptual operation to ironic gesture. Le Roy presents the world premiere of Le Sacre du Printemps, an almost-cult solo that he reinvents, refracting its gestures between three female dancers. Working in the same direction is Danish choreographer Mette Ingvartsen, whose piece To come (extended) will have its Italian premiere performance in Venice, performing alongside Jan Ritsema, Bojana Cvejic, Xavier Le Roy himself, and Boris Charmatz. Ingvartsen is the author of a “choreography expanded” to the most extreme point of immateriality, in which the body loses its usual dominating role, and becomes an object among objects.

This choreographic area, in which the sphere of perception prevails over technical skill and feeling is a key element, also includes Italian choreographers Francesca Foscarini and Irina Baldini, each with extensive experiences abroad. They have both come to Venice with a diptych: Vocazione all'asimmetria and Animale, an original new piece, for Francesca Foscarini; for Irina Baldini 7 ways to begin without knowing where to start, which made her the revelation of the Biennale College – Choreographers last year, and Quite Now in its world premiere performance.

Choreography as a social experience, a common space shaped by performer and spectator together, guides the work of Faye Driscoll, winner of a Bessie Award and a Doris Duke Artist Award, who comes to Italy for the first time with Thank you for Coming: Attendance, the first chapter in a series of works “made for and with the public”.

Expressive energy and vitality blow in from another continent, from Cape Verde with Marlene Monteiro Freitas, whom the Biennale has acknowledged as a new talent with the Silver Lion award: Bacchae – Prelude to a Purge, presented by Freitas in its Italian premiere performance, is an original reinterpretation of the tragic myth by Euripides, performed by twelve dancers and musicians from her company.

Twenty years after the anthology of her early creations, Les Solos 1978-1998, presented at the Biennale in 1999, Marie Chouinard continues with the idea of dipping into her own repertory with her company. To be shown as a world premiere at the Biennale, Solos et Duos (a working title) is a retrospective of about thirty solos and duets, “a new choreographic collection, a reinterpretation of these short forms that become independent, but follow in the wake of a long and deep creative process that developed over the span of forty years” (M. Chouinard).

Biennale College - Danza

The transmission of the contemporary repertory, the analysis of choreographic technique that focuses on a specific method every year (in 2017 Forsythe, this year Chouinard herself), personal interpretation and elaboration are the subject of the activities of the Biennale College for dancers and choreographers. The goal is to promote new talents by offering them the opportunity to work closely with the masters to develop creations: the outcomes of the two intensive programmes dedicated to the art of dance and to the art of choreography will be performed as part of the 12th International Festival of Contemporary Dance.

The 15 dancers selected this year, all between the ages of 18 and 23 (8 Italians, 2 Australians, 1 Dutch, 1 Greek, 1 Israeli, 1 from Singapore), at the end of three months focused on training and interpretation, will perform the 24 Préludes de Chopin by Marie Chouinard and a new creation by Daina Ashbee conceived for the Biennale College (29 June).

The masters of the College dedicated to the dancers are: Judith Koltai (Authentic Movement), Gaby Agis (Skinner Releasing Technique), Tom Koch (Alexander Technique), Ami Shulman (Feldenkrais), Linda Rabin (Continuum) for the somatic approach or awareness of the body; the dancers from the Compagnie Marie Chouinard for the study of contemporary technique and research into movement.

The three choreographers under 32 selected by Marie Chouinard will present three free and original creations around 20 minutes long (1 July). After a preliminary phase studying the creative process of a master, this year it's Marie Chouinard's, the three choreographers will work for 6 weeks on their own creation with 7 professional dancers. In the various phases of research, elaboration, and realization of their creations, the three choreographers will work with experts Isabelle Poirier, maître de ballet of the Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Guy Cools for the dramaturgy, Simone Derai for direction.

Some of the phases of choreographers’ and dancers’ work will be open to the public inside the 16th International Architecture Exhibition.

Spaces and Initiatives

Encounters with the invited artists and film screenings concur to delineate this year's programme founded on the idea of dance “as nourishment for the mind and for the intellect more than as a pure aesthetic object” (M. Chouinard).

There are 22 performances in the programme, including 5 world premieres, 1 European premiere, and 5 Italian premieres.

What’s new

A new feature of the 2018 Festival is the accreditation of “spectators in residence”, which will make it possible to enjoy the full range of events in the Festival of Dance Music and Theatre with the presence of tutor who will guide them in a dedicated experience through the performances and artists of the festivals, encounters with the protagonists and opportunities for dialogue and exchange. The accreditation to one or more of the Festivals may be purchased starting March 15th at the special price of 35 € for each event.

The call for “contributors in residence”, to be published within the next few days, is addressed to young Italian graduates ages 35 and under, and is structured as a process of research on the field with participation in the festival and studies in the Historic Archives of the Biennale. It will be tutored by professionals and supervised by the Directors of the Departments.


We would like to thank the Ministry for the Cultural Heritage and Activities for its significant contribution and the Regione del Veneto for its support to the programmes of the Dance Music and Theatre Departments of the Biennale di Venezia.

The Goethe Institut has contributed to the production of one event featured in the Dance Festival: Built to Last by Meg Stuart.


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