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la Biennale di Venezia
Main Visual Sezione Teatro EN (new)


Compagnia Virgilio Sieni (Italy)

Sunday October 16 at 8:00 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.
Fondazione Cini (Island of San Giorgio)
Compagnia Virgilio Sieni (Italy)
by Virgilio Sieni
with Virgilio Sieni and Fosco Sieni
sound project and live electronics Francesco Giomi, Francesco Canavese (Tempo Reale)
lighting Marco Santambrogio
with the support of the Ministry for the Cultural Heritage and Activities, Regione Toscana, City of Siena – Council of Culture, City of Florence – Council of Culture
production Compagnia Virgilio Sieni, Tempo Reale
in collaboration with the 35th Festival Internazionale Santarcangelo dei Teatri
The author of some of the most significant experimentation in the field of dance, in which he has been a leading figure since the Eighties, dancer and choreographer Virgilio Sieni returns to the Biennale di Venezia after last year’s presentation of Tristi Tropici. This time, Sieni has been invited to the Theatre Biennale, like Josef Nadj, to conduct a workshop with student actors. Like Nadj, in fact, Sieni also works across several different artistic disciplines, having studied classic and contemporary dance as well as the visual arts and architecture – of which his debut with the company Parco Butterfly offers a shining example.
The leader of the Compagnia Virgilio Sieni, one of the major Italian choreographic realities and one of the groups that performs most frequently abroad, linked to several of the major theatres and festivals for his productions (Avignon, the Biennale de Lyon, Charleroi Danse in Brussels, Théâtre du Merlan in Marseilles, Scène Nationale in Marseilles), and the author of choreographic works for the principal Italian opera theatres and drama institutions (Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Balletto di Toscana), in Venice Virgilio Sieni presents Osso, one of the most singular works he has created in recent years, in which, on stage with his eighty year-old father, he engages in a dialogue composed of intimate and transfigured gestures.
“Father and son are on a journey through simple, non-domestic actions, a sort of breath-ruled ceremony of exactness – explains Sieni in the programme notes. With some effort, attention is drawn towards the incorporation and replica of the other. In this being within the same movement, the gaze turns inward, runs inside, letting that gesture and that action take hold of the context: one might say that the physical gaze revives the gesture. (…) The work takes place in three scenes that each correspond to one emotional space.
In the first scene, there is an introduction to the trial – the trial involves no more than coming close to one another, crossing a river bank together, minuscule prolegomena to feeling. The hands tremble and wave in search of cohesion.
In scene two, we enter the symbolic place of the step; here accompanied by sacred figures we complete a sequence of key actions, micro-events that refer to something else. The object passes from one hand to the other and establishes a primary but extremely subtle vocabulary: at the beginning the steps move diagonally to come forth towards one other, then to the table of tactility, letting our hands rest and coincide with the bust positioned as if before a musical instrument, finally to the table of ancestral objects where the eye, the gesture of the arm, the rotation across the bust play counterpoint to the dynamics of lyrical approaches.
Scene three, in the end, appears as a physical channel where the bodies and the steps again are exchanged, as the void advances, signs of recognition that coincide. These men, faced with their body, severely examine ever-unfamiliar details, they fill with light”.
“My father came from a rural background, from the olive groves of the country, and for a long time he managed a grocery store founded in 1955 in the suburbs of Florence, at the Isolotto – says Virgilio Sieni – when two years ago I asked him if he would help me on stage with simple constructions of gestures. He said yes, and remarked that I could have asked him earlier, and placed his body at my disposition. (…) Ours is a ballet in three scenes, in a counterpoint with actions of the memory, with glances and mimics that have something to do with our life”.
From an interview with Virgilio Sieni by Rodolfo Di Giammarco, La Repubblica, 5 December 2007
In the kingdom of dancing anthropology, the reverberation of the son in the father and vice versa is a clear and cathartic look in the mirror. We might recall the solos created by Mats Ek for his mother Birgit Cullberg, transformed into an eighty-year old Baccante, or the old amateur bodies brought onstage by Pina Bausch. But that’s not important. In Osso what counts is the presence of the father and son in the flesh (precisely), and in the rejection of psychology, the gestural austerity which reveals, with some irony and knowing candour, mysterious fragments of autobiography. There is the sense of a relationship that was not a comfortable one. But misunderstanding, filial tenderness and fatherly domination melt away and cancel each other out with playful composure – hooray for the theatre – surrounded by balls, circles and golden lights.
Marinella Guatterini, Il Sole 24 Ore, 1 November 2009

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