Josef Nadj with eight dancers coming from different African countries; Hervé Koubi, the French-Algerian choreographer with his multi-ethnic company and the Jewish-Egyptian vocalist Natacha Atlas; Marco D’Agostin from Italy; Americans Pam Tanowitz – dancer and choreographer - and Simone Dinnerstein, pianist, accompanied by Pam Tanowitz Dance; Olivier de Sagazan, the French artist from Brazaville; the Basque dancer Iratxe Ansa who with Igor Bacovich from Italy form Metamorphosis, based in Madrid; Rone, a champion of the French electronic scene, with the artistic collective (La)Horde: Marine Brutti, Jonathan Debrouwer and Arthur Harel who has been the head of the Ballet national de Marseille for a year; Oona Doherty from Northern Ireland and Germaine Acogny from Senegal. These are the artists of a live performance scene that has no borders, resonant with the forms and content of the world. Radicals, as McGregor defines them, the expression of an incisive dance that, compelled by the urgencies of the world, speaks to our time.
Djino Alolo Sabin, Timothè Ballo, Abdel Kader Diop, Aïpeur Foundou, Bi Jean Ronsard Irié, Jean-Paul Mehansio, Marius Sawadogo, Boukson Séré – from Congos, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso – are the eight dancers that, strong of the richness of their different backgrounds, – spanning from traditional dances, wrestling, rap, ballet and acrobatics – give Josef Nadj’s “movement theatre” new limph. Everything is a source of inspiration for the Hungarian artist, one of the most eclectic personalities of the international scene, who with the new show Omma, tells a story about sharing and transmission, inviting us “to look beneath our eyes to better see deep inside ourselves”.
Hervé Koubi borrows from the mosaic of the ancient Mediterranean cultures of his Algerian roots: rituals, melodies, stories and traditions that he mixes spectacularly with the language of breakdance and hip hop, permeated by the sensual energy of his 15 dancers. A return to the origins united with the new knowledge of the body, in a combined sense of belonging or being uprooted, also inspires Koubi’s latest work Odyssey. The new piece celebrates femininity in its encounter with masculinity through the score of the dancers’ movements, as it meets the fusional score of sounds by Natacha Atlas, the international Jewish-Egyptian vocalist who blends pan-ethnic echoes with the rhythms of European electronics.
One of the newest figures on Italian stages, where he has appeared as a choreographer since 2010, Marco D’Agostin has presented his works across Europe ever since, winning a Ubu prize in 2018 as best performer under 35. Following his appearance in last year’s Biennale Danza, D’Agostin returns this year with Best Regards, a solo in the caustic spirit of Nigel Charnock to whom it is dedicated. An impossible letter “to someone who will never answer”: to the prematurely-departed creator of one-man shows that stepped beyond the limits of performance, in a brazen and impetuous blend of theatre, dance and political cabaret.
The formal rigour that has developed from a long and unrelenting reflection about dance has made Pam Tanowitz one of the leading choreographers of the new millennium, in the repertory of the major dance companies, and in Italy for the first time for La Biennale. With an overarching understanding of dance, from Balanchine to Cunningham via Viola Farber, Tanowitz uses all the tools offered by past and present dance to disassemble its mechanisms and recreate them in new forms. New Work for Goldberg Variations – in its European premiere for Venice – was created jointly with pianist Simone Dinnerstein: a new work on a piece that has been a challenge for musicians and choreographers and where here, the limpid architecture of the dancers seems to cast new light on the quintessence of emotions expressed by Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
Dance as a stage prop is the original approach of the painter, sculptor and performance artist Olivier de Sagazan. Created in 2001, Transfiguration – in which the body of the artist is transfigured under layers of clay – is an extreme work that is constantly expanding, intersecting dance theatre and the plastic arts. It has been performed over 300 times in 20 different countries and counts over 6 million views on YouTube. The evolution of the work over the past decade has intensified the performance aspect: de Sagazan shifted the perspective by distributing the performance of the civil servant in suit and tie who disfigures himself into a monstrous creature, among six dancers. This led to the creation of a new production, in which «the effect of the group, along with its instinctive way of moving gives these masked bodies a strangeness and a power I could never have imagined. In them I saw the embryo of incredible paintings and over time it became clear to me that there was something I had to do, like a painter with his paints and his brushes. Paint with bodies covered in mud which look like sculptures» (O. de Sagazan). From one residency to the next it became La Messe de l’Âne, a reference to the medieval Feast of Fools, which will have its world premiere in Venice.
It is an “artist’s nude” that is progressively revealed to the eyes of the spectator in the work by the Basque Iratxe Ansa – an independent artist who studied with Cranko and worked with the companies of Forsythe, Kyliàn, Duato, Ek, Naharin, McGregor, Pite – and by the Italian Igor Bacovich, who trained at the Accademia di Danza in Rome and later at the Codarts in Rotterdam. Al desnudo is a dynamic workshop that begins with a classical duet then grows into a limpid process of deconstruction that reveals the pattern and mechanisms of creation as it comes into being. The original duo merges with the notes of the Violin Concerto no. 2 by Philip Glass and the music of Johan Wieslander and with the lights and images, a combination of live-streamed and pre-recorded material by Danilo Moroni.
Radical is the battle cry of Room with a View, a joint work by Rone and (La)Horde. It is the cry of rage and suffering of a generation that rallies the power of the group against the sense of catastrophe, with its battles and conflicts, violence but also the vitality of rebellion. An irrepressible and adrenaline-filled performance with bodies flying, jolted by the pulsations of the sounds sculpted by composer and producer Rone, surrounded by a horde of ravers who survived the collapse of civilization. The focus is on a political vision of dance that gives prominence to the choreographic forms of popular rebellion – from raves to traditional dance to the Internet jumpstyles – nurtured by the thinking of Alain Damasio, the science fiction author, and his battle of the imaginary.
With a dance that is informal in its themes and its modes, Oona Doherty, a new name in European dance and the Silver Lion recipient of this year’s Festival, will bring to Venice Hard to be Soft – A Belfast Prayer. She has made the unorthodox choice to portray the cross-section of a community, her childhood community in Belfast with its horizons limited by cultural, social and religious constraints. Doherty captures the daily-life dimension of the working classes, which are virtually absent from the dance stage, their violence and vulnerability, their quirks, stereotypes and vices, as well as their courage, strength and energy.
Somewhere at the Beginning is the solo in which Germaine Acogny, the pioneer of contemporary African dance and the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the Festival, comes to terms with her own past, the roots that are the starting points for our entire lives, embodied in the archaic figures that accompany her. Having left Africa, lived in exile in Europe and then returned to her native land, Acogny’s work is also a dialogue between the West and the African continent, about the search for identity that is never something granted or acquired. The German-French director Mikaël Serre chose to express this play of memory with an intimacy aimed at avoiding the oversimplifications of ideology.