Dance has always been the most collaborative of art forms. We work through and with other bodies, in a seamless dialogue of mind and matter. Often, we do not speak – we allow the core of us to radiate and instinctively start to move; to music, to images, to feelings, to impulse, to touch, to…..inputs that stream in from a myriad of sources and resonate inside us, inspiring us to create. Mostly, we do not remember where an idea starts, or where an idea ends. We are all continuum and exchange, morph and transformation, a borderless vessel of exploration and potential.
Our bodies too are more transmutable than ever before as we extend ourselves into virtual worlds, transform ourselves through meditation or simply teleport for a while in the metaverse – this fantastical world where everything is possible – kind of. Physical borders are eroding as quicky as geographical borders are redrawn and still the human spirit transcends itself over and again - towards a permanent state of the unfixed, the impermeable, the free.
What is it for an artist/an artwork to be boundary-less today? Is it expressed in the people we choose to collaborate with, the mediums we innovate inside, from where we work, or in the attempts to erode the categories that define us or something other? Isn’t art making, the very act of breaking boundaries, borders and barriers? Isn’t it a way of re-imagination and a new way of thinking? Art, then perhaps the liminal space of the in-between.
Biennale Danza 2022 will have 5 programme strands: Live/Installation, Biennale College, Collaboration, Film, Talks/Workshops.
The work and artists in our second year are in many ways uncategorisable – they all resist singular definition, as they transcend genre and medium in their work. Radical collaboration is key to their practice as the spaces between art forms merge, coalesce and transform into new and surprising direction. Their boundary-lessness opens new channels of art making and presents audiences with fresh challenges of perception and interpretation.
We are delighted to be commissioning and co-commissioning new work this year for the Festival including world premieres from Saburo Teshigawara Rocío Molina, Diego Tortelli, and we look forward to presenting many European and Italian premieres from iconic dance world leaders to emerging innovative new voices.
Let’s start with the Biennale Danza World Premiere Commissions:
From the ‘total theatre’ imagination of sculptor, dancer, designer and artistic visionary (our Golden Lion) Saburo Teshigawara, comes an intoxicating world premiere, re-imagining of a seminal Ballet Russes work Petrouchka. Versioning this classically renowned narrative, Teshigawara searches for expression on the cusp of human agony and despair - inseparable from skin and flesh.
Morphing between the feral, the sensuous, the upright, the parallel, the violent, the tender – in an astonishing explosion of physical and creative energy - the mercurial contemporary flamenco dancer Rocío Molina (our Silver Lion) stages Carnación, a battle between her volcanic body and five ecstatic live musicians in her world premiere creation.
Diego Tortelli: winner of the Biennale Danza’s first call-out for Italian choreographic talent, impressed with a questioning vision and restless curiosity. His imaginative proposal for a brand-new work Fo:NO takes us through the body via the throat for a sonic and visceral experiment in beat boxing, intricate dance and identity politics.
It is rare to experience seven top tier – auteur - choreographers sharing one programme of trailblazing dance, but that is exactly what we have with Gauthier Dance’s new evening The Seven Sins in the theatre Malibran. Aszure Barton, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Sharon Eyal, Marco Goecke, Marcos Morau, Hofesh Shechter + Sasha Waltz collaborate, inspired by their individualistic take on a mortal sin - an evening that promises to be both transgressive and fiendish.
Marrugeku make intercultural indigenous dance theatre from the northwest Australian experience, where desert meets sea, Australia meets Asia and where cultures twine and fuse. For Biennale Danza 22, Dalisa Pigram+Rachel Swain’s hard-hitting political work Straight Talk exposes Australia’s shameful fixation with incarceration in a potent cry for change.
Rudi Cole and Julia Robert’s burgeoning company, Humanhood, are making significant waves on the international dance scene, bringing together their shamanic powers with their blurring somatic choreographic language. We are thrilled to be presenting their first full-length evening Infinite in Venice, where modern physics and Eastern mysticism fuse in the human body – part performance part meditation Infinite completely upends our understanding of the theatre going experience, where here, audiences are invited to tap into the infinity we all contain within.
Troubled but tough, unloved but unbowed, Maggie the Cat is the captivating focus of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Now, Trajel Harrell the maverick contemporary artist and acclaimed choreographer places Maggie at the centre of this dazzling and provocative work of high art and pop culture. Maggie the Cat addresses power, gender, rejection and inclusion through the prism of one of modern theatre’s most celebrated characters whilst with masterly timing and aesthetic flair, Harrell delights and surprises.
In a breath-taking collaboration between MacArthur genius choreographer Kyle Abraham, A.I.M and pioneering electronic dance music legend Jlin - Requiem: Fire in the Air of the Earth breathes startling new life into Mozart’s Requiem in D minor. Drawing from a rich variety of physical genres: classical ballet, hip-hop, modern dance, and street dance Abraham challenges Jlin to recast the iconic Mozart Requiem which she does by building her sound on a style of house dance and street dance that originated in Chicago in the 1990s. From this new dialogue a work emerges of great poignantly leading us into an exploration of grief, turbulence, and rebirth.
Developing our programme of dance ‘with inspirational life beyond the stage’ we are evolving our series of artists working at the intersections of body, technology, VR, AR, AI and science for gallery environments to be experienced durationally by audiences.
This year the genre-bending artist Tobias Gremmler famed for his collaborations with pop sensation Björk, presents Fields – A Scenographic Media Installation. Gremmler’s work powered by kinetic forces disrupts our perceptual system and trains us anew in dance appreciation. Virtual bodies, untethered spaces, celestial mechanics and air turbulences collide and intersect to reform ‘physical presence’ and guide us to participate in fresh forms of beauty and dance poetry.
Super star Virtual Reality (and real reality) choreographer Blanca Li will share her award-winning work Le Bal de Paris again at the Biennale after winning the Best VR Experience in 78th Venice International Film Festival last year. This was a must for me, for Biennale Danza 22 – an opportunity for our dance, art and family audiences to participate in this extraordinary, visionary multi form work of boundary breaking joy. Not only are you invited to the biggest ball in Paris, you get to dress up, dance yourself and give into a sensory and surreal adventure. This is an absolute must see.
Indigo Lewin, our photographic artist in residence last year, will unveil her intimate dance portraits of Biennale Danza 21 – elucidating epic encounters with our recent past. Lewin, a bright light in a new generation of radical photographers has always had bodies at the centre of her practice. In this installation, she reframes the traditional dance photography landscape and focusses in to the prosaic, the everyday, exposing and illuminating the modern rituals of the dancer and the dance in their raw vulnerability and ecstatic release.
If our Live + Installation programme is the heart of the Biennale Dance, the Biennale College is our blood supply. What then of the future art makers, the visionaries of tomorrow….
Our newly minted Biennale College Danza was a highlight of 2021, with superb young artists growing exponentially during their intensive 3 months in Venice. For 2022, we will refine and sharpen our model to provide unrivalled learning, training, mentoring, and creating opportunities for a fresh cohort of burgeoning talent. 18 young dancers and choreographers from around the world will be resident at Biennale Danza, taking class, workshops, rep and creating new work with a plethora of incredible artists and visionaries.
In a special commission this year, our Golden Lion Saburo Teshigawara will be in residence in Venice to collaborate with the College participants on a bespoke site-specific event within the Arsenale. It is a rare privilege for us to welcome this great dance master to work with the College in what will be, I am sure for them, an early career highlight. And we are very much looking forward to sharing the outcomes of this unique experience with our Biennale audiences cementing the Biennale Colleges’ reputation as a laboratory for dance experimentation.
Collaboration: Times Arrow
In 2021, we reminded our audiences that dance is inherently collaborative with projects that enlivened and interacted with sites in the Architecture Biennale and appeared informally for audiences to encounter accidentally. Our collaboration with the Biennale Archive to celebrate Ismael Ivo was a special highlight and a new collaboration with the Archive is planned for this season.
In September 1972, the bold experimenter Merce Cunningham staged a seminal dance Event in Piazza St Marco, Venice during the 35th International Music Biennale. 50 years later, we pay tribute, celebrate and evolve the pioneering legacy of Cunningham in a collaboration between the Biennale Archives, Biennale College, and The Cunningham Trust.
Atomising the original Cunningham Event and creating a processional site-specific performance of Cunningham’s work, on and beside the canal, repertory from the iconic St Marks work will be taught, rehearsed and re-distributed by Jeannie Steele and Daniel Squire – two seminal dancers of the Merce Cunningham Company and performed by 16 dancers of the Biennale College. The costumes of the performers have been designed by Matthieu Blazy for Bottega Veneta, continuing the line of exquisite Cunningham cross-artform collaborations. The Cunningham ‘atoms’ will be danced on floating stages and journey through key locations to ‘sail’ into the Arsenale where an outdoor 45-minute danced Cunningham Event will emerge.
Extending this spirit of collaboration, we will offer a rare opportunity to see Cunningham’s last collaboration on film with the celebrated British visual artist Tacita Dean - Craneway Event.
In installation form, Dean’s Craneway Event offers a film portrait of late choreographer Merce Cunningham as he leads his dancers in three days of rehearsal for one of his dance “events” in the former Ford Assembly Plant in Richmond, California. The plant’s expansive windows allow shifting light and views of the San Francisco Bay to play a role alongside the dancers, complementing their movements. Completed just months after Cunningham’s passing, Craneway Event is a poetic homage to the avant-garde master.
Indeed, dance on/in film is an important and revelatory part of our programme again this season and represents a powerful artistic and social force. From thrilling new forms of animation to intimate documentaries the range and breadth of work is astonishing. Biennale Danza 22 will profile film work from the festival artists, major releases from established makers as well as raw experimental visions.
Curated conversations and discussion opportunities to meet artists and to understand more personally their work and their artistic vision – this depth of interaction is central to our festival each year and a reflection of our commitment to widening access to the incredible talent and experience we have invited to Biennale. We will be continuing our in-conversation mentoring programme through the Biennale Archive’s ‘Writer in Residence Programme’ nurturing a new group of young dance journalists and curators and providing them with unparalleled opportunities to practise their craft in real world, public situations.
Our Workshop and Masterclass programme gives members of the public and dancers of a range of abilities, opportunities to work physically in the studio with festival artists. Through sharing their technical, repertory and creative practise - body to body – we hope to stimulate, challenge and engage. Each artist performing or presenting work in the Biennale Danza 22 will offer a workshop for a broad range of participants during our festival itself. This workshop programme allows a diverse audience of professional and non-professional dancers to experience live the incredible physical worlds of our Biennale talent and to enjoy the power of dance in action.
In actively supporting a new generation of dance makers, Biennale Danza will continue the two commissioning programmes aimed at nurturing emerging work for the future. The first dedicates resources to the Silver Lion awardee; the second, in the form of a commission awarded to an Italian Dance Maker to include financial and artistic support as well as a commitment to present the commissioned work in the subsequent Biennale. Application for the 2023 commission will open later in the year.
Thank-you Bottega Veneta for once again supporting our vision and programme for Biennale Danza 2022. Not only in the championing and advocacy for the work of incredible artists around the world that we invite to Venice but equally for the creative dialogue and collaboration we have been able to share in realising our own artistic projects together. It is a real pleasure to work towards something greater.
Our Boundary-less Biennale invites you to experience dance, dancers, choreographers, composers and artists who are truly threshold disruptors. They choose to operate in these liminal spaces of the in-betweens or in collaborations that are unexpected, often provocative, and profound. Biennale Danza 22 embraces you into their startling worlds.